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Teachers Out of School

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Ah, the innocence of youth...
"Spinelli's story could be true, I mean, teachers ARE human, therefore logically they must eat, sleep, and presumably shop."
Gretchen, Recess

From the beginning of elementary all the way up until the end of high school, kids spend a large part of their day (usually around six to eight hours) in/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. School is their home! After all, they're already at school when the students arrive and are still there after the students leave, so they obviously must never leave the building themselves. 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. For most students, it's hard for them to think of their teachers actually having 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. Other than brainstorming new ways to make students' lives miserable, of course.

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."

This trope is not universal, however. To people who live in smaller communities, children seeing their teachers outside of school is much more normal.

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. If the teacher is a student's relative, see Embarrassing Relative Teacher.

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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    Anime and Manga 
  • A variant happens in Bloom Into You. Yuu, Touko and Sayaka are holding a meeting with Koyomi at a local cafe when Riko, who's Yuu and Koyomi's homeroom teacher and assistant advisor for the student council, walks in. Riko is less than happy to see her students at the cafe, since she's in a relationship with the female proprietor, and she's worried that the students will find out.
  • Subverted and zig-zagged in Great Teacher Onizuka, where one of the conditions of Onizuka's employment is that he has to live at the school (he's not forbidden from leaving when he's off duty though). The students are all teenagers, so they've outgrown the expectation that teachers don't have a life outside of school.

    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 that takes place during Calvin's summer vacation from school, his mom mentions seeing his teacher, Miss 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 his best friend, Hector, see a female teacher of theirs coming out of a lingerie store. They immediately race off to post about it on the Internet.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Wandering Son fic Reunion, one of Kanako's 4-year-old students questions her about what she does after class. She thinks that Kanako sleeps at the school.
  • Skyhold Academy Yearbook focuses much more on what the teachers do when they're not teaching than on the activities of the students. The academy is a Boarding School, so the teachers actually do live there (and so do the kids, at least most of the time); in fact, it's a minor plot point in a few of the earliest installments that a couple of the teachers are going to be living there permanently, which opens up the possibility of having the school open year-round.
  • In Goldstein, Yehudah has to stay at Hogwarts an extra day (since the train home runs on Shabbat) and winds up eating dinner alone with the teachers. He stays quiet while they all talk about their personal lives, which he finds a little surreal.

    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.
  • Miss Malarkey Doesnt Live In Room 10 has a student discover his teacher not only doesn't live in Room 10, but also lives in the same apartment complex as him.
  • 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.
    • Rowling would note that every professor at Hogwarts goes home for the summer with the exception of Dumbledore, Hagrid, and Filch, who live at the school full-time.
  • Junie B. Jones goes through this in Junie B. Jones and Some Sneaky Peeky Spying 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.
  • This Is Not a Werewolf Story: The first time that Raul's father fails to pick him up from boarding school for the weekend, Dean Swift stays at the school with him. The second time this happens, he actually brings Raul home with him, though this goes rather badly when each of his teenage daughters get up to child-unfriendly activities. (Raul loved it, though.)
  • In the Robin Hill School book Summer Treasure, the girl Hannah goes to the beach with her mother. She goes off searching for treasure and is shocked to find her teacher, Mrs. Connor, wearing a swimsuit and sunglasses and with her hair not in its usual ponytail. She is even more shocked to learn that Mrs. Connor has a husband and shouts at Mrs. Connor that she should be at school, only for Mrs. Connor to tell her that she's not at school all the time. She admits that she thought teachers lived at school all the time, having dinner together, watching a little TV and then putting on pajamas and sleeping together in bunk beds. Mrs. Connor disabuses her of this notion, then the two play together on the beach for a while.
  • Matilda wonders whether anybody thinks about a teacher's life outside of school, when Miss Honey invites her to her cottage. As they walk there, Matilda is surprised that Miss Honey lives in a very rural spot, and is astonished to discover that her cottage is tiny, and incredibly basic, with no running water, electricity, or even a bed.
  • Slug Days Stories: In Duck Days, Lauren is surprised to learn that her third grade teacher Ms. Allen rides a mountain bike. She thinks that teachers are supposed to drink coffee in the staff room and put stickers on worksheets.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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.
  • In The Cosby Show episode "Mrs. Westlake", Dr. Huxtable invites Theo's math teacher, Mrs. Westlake, and her husband over for dinner—Theo expects the worst, especially because Mrs. Westlake is widely considered to be the toughest math teacher at his high school (to the point of being called "The Dragon Lady"). However, during the dinner, Theo's surprised to see that outside of her life as a teacher, Mrs. Westlake is actually pretty friendly and reveals that Theo actually did pretty well on his math test (he got 89%, which would be a B+).
  • Doctor Who: "School Reunion" subverts it. When the 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!

    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. The player character can also run into Kawakami at the fishing pond during one summer outing with Ryuji.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Double Homework, the protagonist and Lauren run into Ms. Walsh at a nightclub on their first date. They are shocked, especially since Ms. Walsh told them earlier that day that she was going to a school board meeting to try to get reassigned to another class.

  • In Bad Machinery, Mildred meets her teacher Mr. Beckwith at a farmers' market - much to his horror, as he believes this would lead to losing his students' meager respect, especially from Mildred.
    Mr. Beckwith: (to Mrs. Beckwith) Why do you think I wear dad's old glasses and a dead man's suit to work? They can't know you're human. The kids got to think you're a mad old ROBOT.

    Western Animation 
  • Recess:
    • The episode "Weekend at Muriel's" starts with Spinelli discovering not only that does Miss Finster go out shopping like a normal person, but that she's actually an old family friend of her mom's side of the family. Gus is particularly surprised to hear this, since he assumed that teachers just sat quietly at their desks whenever school wasn't in session. Then Spinelli ends up spending the weekend at Miss Finster's apartment while her parents go out of town.
    • Another episode is about the main six discovering that their main teacher, Miss Grotke, has a secret double life as a stage magician.
    • 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, especially the title character himself, 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 Ms. Frizzle's class isn't in school doesn't mean they can't still have a field trip. Luckily, Ms. 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.
  • Kim Possible typically only has one teacher at the school, Steve Barkin, which makes it even stranger when they do see him outside of school. Kim and Ron even wind up on a double date with him and a temporarily turned good Shego, and when Ron gets a job at Smarty Mart, he learns that Mr. Barkin also works there (school is for the benefits, but Smarty Mart is apparently where his heart is).
  • Elinor Wonders Why:
    • In the premiere episode, "Ms. Mole's Glasses," Ari is astonished when the class's teacher, Ms. Mole, says that she's going shopping, and later admits he thought teachers lived inside the school. Elinor thinks this is goofy, asking where Ms. Mole would sleep if she lived inside the school.
      Ari: You mean teachers sleep, too?! Mind blowing!
    • In the story that immediately follows the above, "Elinor Stops the Squish," when told that it's Ms. Mole's birthday tomorrow, Ari expresses surprise that teachers have birthdays.
  • In "The Big Birthday Hiccup!" from Butterbean's Cafe, Cricket is surprised to learn that principals have birthdays.
  • Phineas and Ferb: Discussed in the special "Summer Belongs To You!", when Candace admits to feeling ambivalent about seeing her crush Jeremy hanging out with other kids while he's on vacation in France.
    Candace: You know when you know someone and you see they have another life away from you and it feels weird?
    Phineas: Like "when you see your teacher at the grocery store" weird, or like "when someone you've known for a long time starts wearing a cowboy hat" weird?
    Candace: The... the first thing weird.
    Phineas: That's good, because I was thinking about getting a cowboy hat.
  • In "School Starts Tomorrow (Operetta)" from Pete the Cat, Grumpy believes his eyes are playing tricks on him when the kids all go to the Mega Mart to shop for back to school and he spots their old teacher Ms. Burrow out shopping.
    Grumpy: My eyes must be playing tricks on me, or that's a teacher out of school!
    Ms. Burrow: Yep, it's me! Out in the world! Cause I shop like you / Get my hair cut too / I'm buying food 'cause I eat just like you / I'm just a teacher out of school!
  • Ghost Force: When the main characters chance upon Professor Pascal when the latter is making fireworks for Central Park's Fourth of July celebrations, Andy is surprised that teachers have lives out of school.


Video Example(s):


"Just a Teacher Out of School"

In "Back to School (Operetta)," the kids of "Pete the Cat" are shocked to discover their teacher from the previous year, Mrs. Burrow, out shopping in the Mega Mart. It becomes the subject of a song number.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / TeachersOutOfSchool

Media sources: