Teaching Profession

Bruh, Teachers Are ‘Low Key’ Trying to Stay on Top of Student Slang

Keeping up with today’s slang is a no small feat, but teachers are trying
By Tanyon A. Duprey — July 01, 2024 2 min read
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“Lit,” “da bomb,” “bruh,” and “yeet” are terms many of us might have casually said during our formative years. With time—and age—these popular sayings get replaced with the next generation’s preferred innovative vocab, which leaves the aged-out among us scrambling to keep up or reserved to accepting our newfound “senior status.”

For teachers, this language gap can be an occupational hazard, as they may have a hard time following the conversations in their classrooms from day to day when they aren’t up to speed on evolving slang. But some are doing their best to stay on top of the latest entries to the Urban Dictionary. Nearly 40 percent of teachers oppose the banning of slang in the classroom, with 36 percent believing that normalizing slang can reflect respect for students’ cultural identity.

Here are a few ways that teachers are asking questions, quietly observing-and-learning, piecing together context clues, and sharing “as told to” lessons from their students on social media, all in the name of getting hip.

A Q&A helps anyone learn fast

Asked and answered is a classic format that can help anyone make progress in any subject. This interviewer asked teachers around their school what slang words were the most challenging to figure out, then followed up by enlisting a willing student to get teachers up-to-speed.

Another example comes from a teacher on TikTok, who asked her students what was in or out when it comes to older slang words.

@houseofhighlights The kids new there slang. 😭😂(Via @Trina Nguyen)?#teacher #student #funny ♬ original sound - House of Highlights

‘Low key’ taking notes

Some teachers preferred an observe and report back approach. This middle school teacher gave some insight to his TikTok audience on words he’s been learning from his students.

This special education teacher took the more methodical approach, writing down every “new” word he heard from students for a week. His dedication added a few more words to this ever-growing list that the masses are trying to keep up with.

@mr_lindsay_sped I am proud to say I knew 23/24. I have no clue what #fanumtax is and I don’t think they to either! Someone help a brother out? Also quick PSA: #gyat does not mean Get Your Act Together…. #genalpha #slang #genz #middleschoolslang #teach #teachersoftiktok #teacherfyp #fyp ♬ Hip Hop Background(814204) - Pavel

New slang dropping all the time

Some teachers take to X (most definitely better known as Twitter by us older folks) to share their successes at using the latest slang, interesting ways they’ve discovered new entries, and even the surprising places that these words have shown up. A few highlights:

Flipping the script

A few educators decided to match their students’ energy, with one teacher (and comedian) making up his own words to add to Gen Z slang. Spoiler alert, a few have caught on nationally.

Finally, for those wanting to completely Uno reverse their students, a collective at Bored Teachers created a whole list of teacher slang to get you started. Here are a few of the especially niche entries:

Chopper

Definition: chopper = helicopter (parents)

Use in a sentence: Josh’s parents are total “choppers“, it all makes so much sense now.

Gray-gray

Definition: Spending all night or all weekend grading papers.

Use in a sentence: My weekend was “gray-gray“!

SWAY

Definition: Summer, Where Are You?

Use in a sentence: Today was a rough day… “SWAY“!

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