Being Ms. B

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Apr 01 2012

In which there is a secret life of teachers

Here is a universal truth about children: they are all baffled and fascinated by the lives their teachers live outside of school.

Here is a universal truth about adults: we don’t grow out of it.

After high school, I underwent the modern rite of passage of becoming Facebook friends with my former teachers.  To this day, at least three of them regularly pop up on my newsfeed.  I get to eavesdrop on the Actual Existences of these icons of my youth (and better still, read the commentary of their teacher pals).

It’s fascinating.

By the way, if you’re reading, oh-former-teachers of mine… I am so, so, so sorry.  I think I must have been an irritating, albeit well-behaved, child.

In any event, my perpetual fascination informs me that maybe, just maybe, my students share that fascination for me and my life.

Thank HEAVENS for the State of Missouri and it’s convenient, “you can’t be Facebook friends with your teachers/students” law.

Instead, I field these questions on a weekly/daily/hourly basis:


  • How old are you?
  • Do you go with ________ (fill in male teacher)?
  • Why don’t you go with _______ (fill in male teacher)?
  • Are you going to dance with _____  (fill in male teacher) at the sixth grade dance?
  • What color is your car?
  • What kind of car do you drive?
  • Which car in the parking lot is yours?
  • Why did you leave New Jersey?
  • Why did you leave Chicago?
  • Did you like eighth graders better than us?
  • How old is your brother?
  • Did you really have pet dinosaurs when you were our age?
  • Are you married?
  • Do you have kids?
  • Do you want kids?
  • How many kids do you want?
  • Why did you cut your hair?

Here is the perpetual dialogue:

Child: “Ms. B, [insert personal question here]?”

Me: “I answer personal questions at 3:30, after school.”

Child: “But I won’t be here at 3:30 after school!  I have to catch my bus!”

Me: “I guess you can’t ask me a question then.”


Und so weiter.


Rarely, occasionally, my curious children will not only be present at 3:30, but they will also remember that they have burning questions needing to be asked.  And yes, I do actually answer them.   And yes, the question is always, “How old are you?”

Shockingly, when given the information, they don’t spread it like wildfire through the student body.  So yes, the majority of my students still think I’m somewhere between 27 and 40, and yes, the majority of them strongly believe that I am romantically tied to any number of my male colleagues, and yes, they are all fixated on the fact that I cut my hair three months ago.

Plus, they still buy my dinosaur stories.

I hope they always will.

6 Responses

  1. Jessica

    On the spur of the moment, I told one of my students that I was 107, and now that’s my answer and I’m sticking to it. When they ask me how many children I have, I say “63″ and none of them have yet connected that to the number of 8th graders in the school (also 63… hmm…).

  2. Pre-service teacher

    As a future teacher it is good to know that you don’t always have to make up random excuses for questions like those. It will make it a lot easier never answering personal questions to my students especially if they ask questions like yours that i don’t want to share.

    • katb

      “I do ______ at 3:30 after school,” is the best line ever. It also works for, “I argue with students at 3:30 after school,” or, “I listen to excuses at 3:30 after school.”

  3. Michelle

    I turn the “how old are you” question into a math problem…”I’ve been teaching for x years and spent y years in college”…amazing how many of them can’t do it, must be bad math teachers out there. I am going to steal your 3:30 idea…must try that!

    • katb

      Michelle, it also works for inappropriate questions. My 12 year olds like to ask things like, “What’s an orgasm?” (they clearly already know the answer). Problem solved by a simple, “come ask me at 3:30. Oh you don’t want to do that? Then I guess you’re not really curious…”

  4. Jessie

    I want a pet dinosaur!

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