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Educator Articles


Mystery Month

By Kathy Jordan

On the first day of November a bowl of dogfood, a bottle of sinus medication, and a toy canoe appeared in the front hall showcase at our school. November was Mystery Month, and mystery books were being featured and read in the media center. Posters advertising mystery books filled the halls.

What were the strange objects that had appeared in the showcase? If you're a super sleuth, you've probably already guessed they were clues to the identities of our school's "mystery teachers."

Each day of the week a new clue was added on each shelf of the teachers' one, two, and three. By Friday the showcase held a strange collection of items. A bowl of dogfood, lipsticks, needlepoint, "The Secret Garden," and a duck decoy represented the mysterious identity of teacher number one. A toy canoe, a jigsaw puzzle, "Island of the Blue Dolphins," a yogurt container, and a picture of an airplane were clues on the second shelf to mystery teacher number two's identity. The third shelf contained sinus medicine, a tennis ball, a bowl of Cheerios, a latch hook rug, and a ukulele to hint at the identity of mystery teacher number three.

The entire population of the school became involved in solving the mystery teachers' identities. The mystery became the talk of the teachers' lounge, the school hallways, and many dinner tables around our town. There were no ballots. Students and teachers were encouraged to be private detectives and keep their opinions to themselves. They would "win" if they could figure out the teachers' identities by Friday, and their reward would be the satisfaction of knowing they had solved a mystery.

On Friday biographical sketches of the three mystery teachers were read over the intercom. The sketches incorporated the significance of the clues and concluded with the name of each mystery teacher.

We continued the mystery teacher activity until all the teachers in our building got a turn. The activity definitely helped teachers get acquainted with one another and also helped students get to know their teachers. It caused the teachers to become more human in the minds of the students, and it created a greater degree of connectedness among everyone in our building.