This is another post from Esther, who taught in her own alma mater after seminary.
When I taught eighth grade English, my two little sisters were in fourth grade and second grade. Before Purim, when classes traditionally “play shtick” on their teachers, my students seized on this situation to have some fun.
They asked the fourth grade principal for permission to take my sister out of class for the period when I’d be teaching them. The principal agreed.
They shooed me out of the room and proceeded to ask my sister a long list of questions about me. This was a common summer camp or youth group game known as “sisters” or sometimes “mothers and daughters,” and currently being used on the show Separation Anxiety.
I stood out in the hallway, waiting. When I peered in through the window on the door, I saw my students all huddled around the teacher’s desk at the front of the room. I wasn’t sure if I should be apprehensive or amused.
After a while, they called me back in and asked me all the questions.
That was when some of my habits became public knowledge. When I said I legitimately had no idea what to say was my favorite food – I’ll eat just about anything – my sister persisted with hints, eventually saying “you ate a whole bar last night!” So yeah, my students got to find out that I regularly ate entire bars of chocolate – all twenty-four pieces at once.
I may have blushed a little.
They also pointed out to me that my answer of purple as my favorite color made no sense, because almost all my clothes were some shade of brown. (Yes, they closely watched what I wore every day.) My sister did answer that correctly, though, and said my favorite color was purple.
It was definitely an eye-opener for all of us. After that, I briefly tried buying clothing that weren’t all neutrals. And my students got to see me a real human being, if only for a short time.
I don’t remember what colors Esther was wearing when we met. But I’ll be paying attention next time.
This reminds me of a teacher I had in seventh grade. She was “in the parsha” as they say, and had the most extensive wardrobe I have ever seen. After a few weeks of no-repeated outfits, I started keeping score in the front of my notebook. Over the course of the year, I think she wore 30 distinct outfits. I later learned that she had lots of sisters, so maybe it wasn’t all her own.