Created By: DennisDunjinman on August 21, 2013 Last Edited By: DennisDunjinman on September 24, 2013
Troped

Teachers Out Of School (one final hat needed)

Our teacher? With a LIFE of his or her own?

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Kids spend most of their day inside school, under the tutelage of a teacher. The class tends to develop a relationship with their teacher, but they always believe that their teacher is nothing more than just their teacher.

At the end of the day, kids go home. Do teachers go home? Of course not! Teachers are teachers. At the end of the day, teachers just get switched off and locked in a storage closet. Or they spend their summers sleeping in their vampire coffins until vacation is over, where they will rise up to suck the life out of their students the next year.

With this thought in mind, it comes as a real shock when the kids meet their teacher at home, or in the grocery store, or even on a date. It's almost impossible to conceive that they have a life outside of school, unless they're taking a break in the Mysterious Teacher's Lounge, where who knows what amazing and secret things teachers are doing in there.

There is also some element of Contractual Purity involved, as to quote the Teachers article, "one of the first things that Education programs drill into you is never to be seen doing things that your students aren't old enough to do (with the possible exception of driving a car), for fear that it may affect your credibility as an authority figure."

Compare Parents as People, and Villains Out Shopping for when antagonists are encountered on unexpected mundane excursions. If the students are out of school, see Shouldn't We Be in School Right Now?. If the teacher still acts like a teacher when school is out, the teacher is a Non-Giving-Up School Guy.

This trope is about the myopic perspective of the teacher's students who don't realize their teacher has a life outside of school.

Examples

Literature

  • My Teacher Lives at School is a children's book about kids trying to prove their teacher well, lives at school. Towards the end of the book the students are taken on a bus trip to the teacher's house and they learn teachers do in fact have lives.

Live-Action TV

  • The Cosby Show episode "Mrs. Westlake". In a previous episode Theo Huxtable was assigned to the toughest math teacher at his school, Mrs. Westlake. In this episode Doctor Huxtable invites Mrs. Westlake and her husband to dinner, much to Theo's dread. However, outside the school environment she turns out to be quite charming.
  • The children's sitcom Microsoap was about a family which was going through a divorce. It had an arc where the children's father dated the son's teacher. The kid and his classmates suspected she was an automaton.
  • Cookie led an after-hours school tour in Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide. The "scariest" part of his tour was the part where he showed what the teachers do after-hours: they have their own rap group!
  • Mr. Feeny from Boy Meets World lives next door to the main characters, but that hasn't stopped him from being their teacher in every grade level they progressed throughout the seasons. Living next door only meant he could teach them life lessons they otherwise wouldn't have learned at school.

Newspaper Comics
  • Grand Avenue. In the strip for September 17th, 2013, Gabbie expresses disbelief that her teacher had such a busy summer vacation. The teacher angrily asks her is she thinks that all teachers do is teach, that they live at school and all they do in their spare time is grade papers.
  • Calvin and Hobbes: At one point Calvin's parents mention seeing his teacher Ms. Wormwood at the supermarket. Calvin remarks that he just kind of assumed that teachers slept in coffins all summer.
  • In an early Zits strip, Jeremy and Hector see one of their teachers coming out of a Victoria's secret store. They immediately race off to post about it on the internet.

Western Animation

  • An episode of Recess starts with Spinelli discovering not only that Ms. Finster goes out shopping like a normal person, but that she's a friend of her parents.
    • Another episode was about the main six discovering that their homeroom teacher, Mrs. Grotke, had a secret double life.
    • Recess: School's Out subverts this trope, because the characters are fully aware that their teachers get a summer vacation as well, and T.J. says he intends to T.P. the golf course that Principal Prickly regularly attends.
  • Lloyd in Space featured a robot for a teacher named Mrs. Bolt. Her class thinks of her as just a machine that makes their lives miserable, until one episode where her husband chose to invite her class over for a party. Lloyd was surprised that Mrs. Bolt had a life outside teaching, and a husband.
  • Averted in Teacher's Pet, where the teacher was the main character Leonard's mother, and title character Spot/Scott's owner. She regularly embarrassed him in class but there were occassions where he would exploit it.
  • On Arthur when Mr. Ratburn's ceiling collapses and he temporarily moves in with the Read family, Arthur's little sister DW is confused.
    DW: So, the school roof fell in?
    Mr. Ratburn: No, the roof to my home.
    DW: But you're a teacher - The school is your home.
    Mr. Ratburn: Teachers don't live at school, D.W. We have houses just like you.
    DW: The world seemed so simple before this moment.
  • Occasionally inverted on The Magic School Bus. Just because Mrs. Frizzle's class isn't in school doesn't mean they can't still have a field trip. Luckily, Mrs. Frizzle doesn't mind being visited by her class after school hours.
  • The Simpsons: Inverted for most of the time in the case of Principal Seymour Skinner. Even though he's a Green Beret and Vietnam War veteran, he's still probably the dullest person in whole of Springfield. When he's not in work he thinks of working, he lives with his mother, and he thinks a class trip to a box factory is exciting enough to do more than once. Even his more badass moments just depict him as a Non-Giving-Up School Guy. However, this trope gets Zig-Zagged in the season five episode, Sweet Seymour Skinner's Baadasssss Song: After Skinner loses his job, Bart gets to know him outside of work. Even though Skinner is as boring as ever, Bart still manages to befriend him.
  • Hey Arnold! had the teachers go on strike. Because of the strike, the kids rejoiced that they could spend their days out of school, but found that the teachers all had found temporary jobs at all the places they liked to hang out. The kids return to school to avoid the teachers, but are evicted by Principal Wartz and tells them every day the strike goes on, they cut days from summer vacation. That's when Arnold vows to end the strike as soon as possible.
Community Feedback Replies: 55
  • August 21, 2013
    Bisected8
    • The children's sitcom Microsoap (about a family which was going through a divorce) had an arc where the children's father dated the son's teacher (who he and his classmates suspected was literally an automaton).
    • An episode of Recess starts with Spinelli discovering not only that Ms. Finster goes out shopping like a normal person, but that she's a friend of her parents.
  • August 21, 2013
    randomsurfer
    On Arthur when Mr. Ratburn's ceiling collapses and he temporarily moves in with the Read family, Arthur's little sister DW is confused.
    DW: So, the school roof fell in?
    Mr. Ratburn: No, the roof to my home.
    DW: But you're a teacher - The school is your home.
    Mr. Ratburn: Teachers don't live at school, D.W. We have houses just like you.
    DW: The world seemed so simple before this moment.
  • August 21, 2013
    DAN004
    "At the end of the day, teachers just get switched off and locked in a storage closet. Or they spend their summers sleeping in their vampire coffins until vacation is over, where they will rise up to suck the life out of their students the next year."

    I find this kind of description kinda disturbing... o_O
  • August 21, 2013
    KingZeal
    Sometimes results in a Teacher Student Romance if She Cleans Up Nicely.

    I support a rename to Teachers As People. The current name can be misunderstood for a number of reasons.
  • August 21, 2013
    Mauri
    Since playing the literal as "automatons" as in robot like it can lead to the cases like: A: The Jetsons: Where it varies from an actual robot to a machine that inputs the knowledge into the children. Not recalling everything though. B. Doctor Who: Specially in "School Reunion" where the teachers are in fact aliens that turn the children into the coders of the universe or something like that.
  • August 21, 2013
    dragonquestz
    Wait. Is this trope just about the perception? If so, it needs a better name.
  • August 21, 2013
    AgProv
    An example from other than teaching involves vet James Herriot. He relates many instances where Yorkshire farmers would visit out of surgery hours for treatment of minor ailments to their animals, convinced they were not interrupting anything important and the vet would be automatically available 24 and 7.The idea the local vet could be married with a normal family life had never, ever, occured to them. Herriot recalls how one late-night farmer shouted into the surgery cellar for him. When asked why he'd shouted into the cellar, the farmer mumbled something about "well, I was sure you'd be sitting up late reading and learning, like.Clever professional man like you." James Herriot concluded the man must have thought he lived in a sparse monk's cell in the basement, or that vets were part of an austere quasi-monastic order needing little food, sleep or sustenance.
  • August 21, 2013
    DennisDunjinman
    DAN 004: I think I heard that description as speculation between episodes of Arthur, which was already given as an example. The kids in the live-action segments made up stories of what they thought teachers do after-hours.
  • August 21, 2013
    Larkmarn
    A: I love this trope.

    B: Current name is the exact opposite of the trope, since it seems to imply it's about teachers that are 24-hour teachers.

    C:
    • Calvin And Hobbes: At one point Calvin's parents mention seeing his teacher Ms. Wormwood at the supermarket. Calvin remarks that he just kind of assumed that teachers slept in coffins all summer.
  • August 21, 2013
    Bisected8
    What about Educators Have Everyday Lives or Teachers Out Shopping (since it's pretty much the same situation as Villains Out Shopping from the perspective of the child)?
  • August 21, 2013
    foxley
    In an early Zits strip, Jeremy and Hector see one of their teachers coming out of a Victoria's secret store. They immediately race off to post about it on the internet.
  • August 21, 2013
    DragonQuestZ
    The name should indicate that it's about the perception kids have.
  • August 21, 2013
    paycheckgurl
    My Teacher Lives at School is a children's book about kids trying to prove their teacher well, lives at school. Towards the end of the book the students are taken on a bus trip to the teacher's house and they learn teachers do in fact have lives.
  • August 22, 2013
    Arivne
    Live Action TV
    • The Cosby Show episode "Mrs. Westlake". In a previous episode Theo Huxtable was assigned to the toughest math teacher at his school, Mrs. Westlake. In this episode Doctor Huxtable invites Mrs. Westlake and her husband to dinner, much to Theo's dread. However, outside the school environment she turns out to be quite charming.
  • August 22, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Western Animation
  • August 23, 2013
    Bisected8
  • August 23, 2013
    ChunkyDaddy
    I think the name should be All Teachers Live At School since the trope is not about teachers, rather about the perception that kids have that teachers do not have life outside of school
  • August 23, 2013
    Larkmarn
    Again, that just sounds like instances where they actually do have no life outside of school.
  • August 23, 2013
    DennisDunjinman
    This is one of those tropes that's best treated as a subversion rather than a straight example.
  • August 23, 2013
    Bisected8
    Lark, I think you're getting a bit bogged down on the idea that a trope's title will always be taken literally, rather than referring to the perceived situation at the heart of it.

    In this case, it's highly unlikely that anyone reading will be actually under the impression that teachers live at school. Ergo it's very easy for the reader to make the leap that this is about children thinking teachers live at school rather than teachers literally living at school.
  • August 23, 2013
    Larkmarn
    Trust me, people will take titles literally. Could be about how teachers are so impoverished that they have to sleep at the school or something, and there's nothing in the current title about how it's perceptions. I don't see why we wouldn't nip it in the bud and have an accurate title. Remember, Clear Concise Witty.
  • August 23, 2013
    acrobox
    What about Off Duty Teacher, like an off duty police officer?
  • August 23, 2013
    Larkmarn
    I like that.
  • August 25, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^^ Thirding that one.
  • August 25, 2013
    Chabal2
    Definitely Truth In Television. There is also some element of Contractual Purity involved, as to quote the Teachers article, "one of the first things that Education programs drill into you is never to be seen doing things that your students aren't old enough to do (with the possible exception of driving a car), for fear that it may affect your credibility as an authority figure."

    Fourthing Off Duty Teacher.
  • August 25, 2013
    AgProv
    Film
    • In Claude Chabrol's atmospheric psychological thriller Le Boucher (The Butcher), the story revolves around a spinster schoolteacher in a remote village in rural France, who really does live over the shop, in a flat tied to her job, immediately over the village schoolroom. Helene (Stephane Audrane) took the job to retreat from the big city after a messy love affair, and ten years on has settled into a dull uneventful life revolving around her job. She is settled and happy in a place where not very much happens. Until a new village butcher arrives and a series of shocking murders happen... Helene is seen to make herself available to her pupils 24 and 7, even providing personal tuition in the evenings, as she has nothing much else in her life.

    Gods damn. It's written Helene, but with an acute accent over the first "e" and a grave accent over the second "e".
  • August 25, 2013
    DragonQuestZ
    I still say the title doesn't work. It's about the perception kids have, and that hasn't been in any of the titles.

    How about Kids Think Teachers Live At School. It's long, but it's sure as hell isn't ambiguous about the trope. If we can say that in fewer words, fine, as long as it still states the perception part.
  • August 25, 2013
    DAN004
    ^ Can't think of anything shorter, but I'm upping that one.
  • August 25, 2013
    DragonQuestZ
    And unfortunately Shocked That Teachers Have Lives is no shorter, although still clear.
  • August 25, 2013
    DennisDunjinman
    Something wrong with Teachers Out Of School?
  • August 25, 2013
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ Again, that just states that teachers don't do things out of school, not that kids think teachers do nothing but live at school.
  • August 25, 2013
    DennisDunjinman
    No, it says that teachers aren't always in school. Plus "out of school" partly implies that the teachers are doing something they're not expected to.
  • August 25, 2013
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ 1. It could be mistaken for teachers playing hooky, among other things.

    2. The description is far more narrow than the title states.

    3. The laconic line explains the trope better than the title does.
  • August 25, 2013
    Bisected8
    I would argue that while it could, it should be obvious to most people what it's about, and for the few that it isn't, they'll be able to work it out. Plenty of titles rely on the assumption that the reader can infer what they mean after all.

    Furthermore, I fourth Off Duty Teacher for the following reasons;

    1. The literal interpretation of the title covers the "teacher having a life outside teaching" part.
    2. The only people who would recognise a teacher as being "off duty" are their students (even said students' parents wouldn't have any trouble getting their head around the idea that a teacher has a life outside their job). Thus that part is very easily inferred.
    3. For most people the idea of a student realising their teacher exists outside of school is what would come to mind for precisely the same reason this trope exists; it's Truth In Television and it's what comes to mind when an "off duty" teacher is brought up.
    4. Even if some literally minded person doesn't understand it, there's not really much scope for them to misuse it; The few works which focus on teachers lives outside of school will almost inevitably have this trope anyway.

    As long as the majority of readers can work it out (and for the reasons above, I think they can) there won't be a problem. Viewers Are Morons is as bad an idea here as anywhere else, after all.
  • August 25, 2013
    DragonQuestZ
    "it should be obvious to most people what it's about, and for the few that it isn't, they'll be able to work it out"

    That is disproven by years of trope repair on this site. You can't defend a title on a "should".
  • August 25, 2013
    DAN004
    Let me say it again: This trope comes from the student's perspective, not anybody else's, and that the students are tend to be naive (e.g elementary schoolers). Or at least that's what I can get from Mr. Dragon Quest Z.

    Question is, do we really need that perspective?
  • August 25, 2013
    DragonQuestZ
    Well do we at least have a general trope for how kids think adults live?
  • August 25, 2013
    Bisected8
    ^^^ Could you clarify what's wrong with my reasoning?

    As far as I know, while a great deal of tropes have been misused because of their names, there are plenty of tropes which have names which need more or less the same amount of inference that have done OK (Villains Out Shopping and Parents As People to name a couple which came up in this YKTTW).
  • August 25, 2013
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ The part I quoted was just making an assumption that, again, has never been a valid defense for a trope name. Years of misuse of tropes has shown that people on this site often assume title=definition. This is also the reason for Fast Eddie's motto Clear Concise Witty (in that order).
  • August 25, 2013
    Bisected8
    In that case, I think there's been a misunderstanding. I know that full well.

    I wasn't saying that "people'll be able to guess what it means", I was saying that "there's no room for misinterpretation here" and then made my case (which I assumed was what you disagreed with).
  • August 25, 2013
    DragonQuestZ
    Well Off Duty Teacher can seem like a teacher that's taking a vacation, or suspension, not merely off for the day.
  • August 25, 2013
    Bisected8
    Well a teacher that's on vacation or been suspended would still be an example of this trope (the reason why they're off duty isn't part of the definition, after all).
  • August 25, 2013
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ Still looks like teachers are doing something other than teaching, when that is only half the trope. The trope is that teachers are off duty, and kids are surprised because they think that doesn't happen.
  • August 26, 2013
    DAN004
    Kids Remark Of Teachers Lives? "Kid's Remark of Teacher's Lives"
  • August 26, 2013
    Bisected8
    ^^ OK, let me put it another way; can you think of three examples of teachers being portrayed outside of their job which doesn't fall into this trope (which is where any misuse will come from)?
  • August 26, 2013
    DragonQuestZ
    ^ Just about any show or work in higher schools, that has any focus on the teacher, will often show them doing stuff. Since the kids are above grade school, this trope will not come into play, but will be mistaken for this.

  • August 26, 2013
    AP
    • In Maicchingu Machiko Sensei, the students often visit their teacher at her house (usually when she's in the bathtub because it's just one of those animes) and go on adventures with her.
  • August 27, 2013
    Bisected8
    ^^ In that case I'll concede the point.
  • September 17, 2013
    Larkmarn
    Given school's back in session, I'd say this is an appropriate time to bump.
  • September 17, 2013
    DennisDunjinman
    I feel I've said everything about this trope that needs to be said right in the description. Any more examples?
  • September 17, 2013
    spacemarine50
    Does this include when the plot involves the teacher, but the heart of it isn't in school?
  • September 17, 2013
    DennisDunjinman
    It depends on how involved a teacher is in the lives of their students, and how much the students know about what the teachers do when they aren't in school.
  • September 24, 2013
    Arivne
    Newspaper Comics
    • Grand Avenue. In the strip for September 17th, 2013, Gabbie expresses disbelief that her teacher had such a busy summer vacation. The teacher angrily asks her is she thinks that all teachers do is teach, that they live at school and all they do in their spare time is grade papers.
  • September 24, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    this is publishable with this number of examples?
  • September 24, 2013
    DennisDunjinman
    It takes at least three examples to publish. Right now there's fifteen.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=8sqf6ze4z2wd73nompwmz0i9&trope=TeachersOutOfSchool