Teachers out of School

From Kindergarten/1st-grade to 12th-grade, kids spend most of their day (at least six to eight hours) at school, under the tutelage of a teacher of some kind. The class tends to develop a relationship with their teacher, but they typically never see their teacher as anything 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 often comes as major shock when the kids see their teacher outside of school—such as at home, at a grocery store, or even out on a date. It's almost impossible for students to think that teachers actually have lives outside of their jobs, unless they're taking a break in the Mysterious Teacher's Lounge, where who knows what amazing and/or 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 that their teachers have lives outside of their jobs.


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    Comic Strips 
  • Grand Avenue: In the strip for September 17, 2013, Gabbie expresses disbelief that her teacher had such a busy summer vacation. The teacher angrily asks her if 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: In one strip, Calvin's mom mentions seeing his teacher, Ms. Wormwood, at the supermarket. Calvin, surprised to hear this, remarks that he just kind of assumed that teachers slept in coffins all summer.
  • In an early Zits strip, Jeremy and Hector see a female teacher of theirs coming out of a lingerie store. They immediately race off to post about it on the Internet.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • A subplot in Mean Girls involves the protagonist's inadvertent sabotage of Ms. Norbury's reputation. A lot of other characters don't quite understand that teachers are also people.
    "I love seeing teachers out of school. It's like watching a dog walk on its hind legs..."

  • My Teacher Sleeps In 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 outside of their jobs.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Harry winds up interacting with his teachers outside of school fairly often, especially after the Second War starts in the middle of the series. He notes that it was particularly odd when he once saw Professor McGonagall show up in Muggle clothes.
    • In another book he wonders how weird it is to think of Dumbledore outside of Hogwarts, and has an amusing mental image of him lying on a beach, rubbing suntan lotion on his long, crooked nose.
  • Junie B. Jones goes through this in Junie B. Jones is Not a Crook when she sees her teacher at the grocery store testing out a couple of grapes for quality-check and thinks that she's stealing.
  • Remembering Mrs. Rossi is a novel about a grade-school teacher, Mrs. Rossi, who dies while seemingly still in the prime of her teaching career. In the novel, the students in her class write a book called "Remembering Mrs. Rossi," each with their own personal reminisces of her, and give the book to her young daughter. At the end of the novel is the book itself, which features a couple instances of this. One of them is a poem by a boy named Peter which includes the lines "Hey, Mrs. Rossi! I saw you / That time at the market / Yikes! Teacher in the market! / Hide! Duck! Spy! / Spy on Mrs. Rossi." Another is a story called "Neighbors" from a boy named Drew in which he reveals his secret - that Mrs. Rossi lives in the same apartment building as him. He never even knew that she was a teacher until he became a student in her class. He was worried that the kids in his class would find out and call him a teacher's pet, but they never did find out, and she never told. And, of course, the teacher's daughter, Anna, is a living example of the fact that teachers have lives outside of school and would have never grown up with this type of thinking.
  • In Andrew Clements's The Landry News, the teacher Karl Larson recalls a teacher he had when he was a kid, a seemingly perfect woman named Mrs. Spellman with perfect hair, flawless cursive, and gold stars that were valued by even the toughest boys. Then, while out on holiday on Memorial Day, he saw on her the beach with her family, wearing a swimsuit that didn't hide any of her midriff bulges or purple veins and her husband pointing at a cooler and asking her "Hey, Mabel, hand me a cold one, would you?" Shocked, he in an instant realized that the Mrs. Spellman he knew at school was mostly a fictional character, created both by her and in his mind.
  • In a Horrid Henry story in which Henry's family goes to a French restaurant, he is amazed to see his teacher Ms Battle-Axe sitting at the table nearby. Then it gets even more confusing for him when he sees his teacher's mother barking at her over her table manners.
  • In the YA novel The Cat Ate My Gymsuit, Marcy is surprised to learn her teacher has a first name.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Cosby Show episode "Mrs. Westlake". In a previous episode, Theo gets assigned to Mrs. Westlake, widely considered to be the toughest math teacher at his school. In that same episode, Dr. Huxtable invites Mrs. Westlake and her husband over for dinner, much to Theo's dread. However, Theo discovers that Mrs. Westlake is actually really nice and quite charming outside of school—as an added bonus, it turns out that Theo got an 89% on a math exam that recently took place in her class.
  • Subverted in the Doctor Who episode "School Reunion". When main characters are sneaking around a suspicious school at night, Rose says that she used to think that teachers sleep at school. A moment later...
    The Doctor: [pointing at the ceiling, where "teachers" sleep in their true alien form] Well... They do.
  • 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.
  • iCarly has an episode dedicated to this, where the group tries to figure out what Miss Briggs, their Evil Teacher, does outside of school. Freddy brought the trope up earlier in the episode by pointing out, "You never really think of teachers having lives outside of school," and Sam admits that she always assumed they just slept in the teacher's lounge at night.

    Video Games 
  • Persona 5 gives us the Temperance Confidant Sadayo Kawakami. However, she's a bit of a subversion. As it happens, she has extra debts to pay outside of her usual ones that force her to take on a Maid Service job to get enough money to keep up with the demands, which severely limits having a free life outside school. Only after getting to the root of the problem is when the Protagonist is able to set her free from her dead student's greedy guardians demanding compensation for feeling inferior socially that she is able to brighten up and cherish her life as a teacher.

    Western Animation 
  • Recess:
    • An episode 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. Gus is particularly surprised to hear this, since he assumed that teachers just sat quietly at their desks whenever school wasn't in session.
    • Another episode is about the main six discovering that their main teacher, Miss Grotke, has a secret double life.
    • Recess: School's Out subverts this trope, because at this point, 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 features 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 chooses to invite her class over for a party. Lloyd is surprised that Mrs. Bolt has a life outside teaching — and a husband (despite the fact she goes by "Mrs.").
  • Averted in Teacher's Pet, where the teacher is the mother of the main character, Leonard, and owner of the titular character, Spot (or Scott). She regularly embarrasses him in class but there are occasions where he'd exploit it.
  • On Arthur, when Mr. Ratburn's ceiling collapses and he temporarily moves in with the Read family, Arthur's little sister D.W. is confused.
    D.W.: So, the school roof fell in?
    Mr. Ratburn: No, the roof to my home.
    D.W.: 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.
    D.W.: The world seemed so simple before this moment.
    • Of course, this trope is played with when the cast was first introduced to him, as they were curious as to what Ratburn does outside school, believing it to be something bad. It turns out Mr. Ratburn was skilled in crafting puppets and marionettes.
    • This ends up being averted later on, as Arthur doesn't mind sometimes asking him for favors outside of school. Ratburn's craft in puppetry ended up being a Chekhov's Skill in a later episode, when Arthur and D.W. needed his help fixing an old doll.
  • 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 outside of 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 a Vietnam War veteran, he's still probably the dullest person in all 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, who tells them that the longer strike goes on, the more days they take out of summer vacation. That's when Arnold vows to end the strike as soon as possible.
  • Most of the time, Mr. Lancer of Danny Phantom is a Non-Giving-Up School Guy. When Danny holds a garage sale to earn money, Lancer buys an electric razor, prompting a mocking statement from Tucker about his apparent lack of hair. He also invokes this trope to motivate students into pitying him by discussing his sister who lives too far away to visit, but is really just him in drag.
  • Clarence reacts with shock and confusion when he sees his teacher Ms. Baker on a blind date in a restaurant. He apparently thought she was a robot who never left the classroom and got charged after class was over.
  • Subverted in Invader Zim, because according to some bonus material, Ms. Bitters never leaves school — the building was actually built around her. Of course, this doesn't fit with other statements about her.