25 Times Teachers Feel Like They’re Breaking the Rules

Even when they totally aren’t.

Breaking the Rules

Sometimes people break the rules (sneaking a bag of candy into the movie theater, anyone?!) But sometimes, you do the right thing and still feel like you’re breaking the rules! We asked on our WeAreTeachers Facebook group what people have done that feel against teaching rules, but actually aren’t. There are hundreds of responses, but here are the 25 that resonated with us the most.

Going against the curriculum

Many teachers felt they were breaking the rules by veering off standards or the given curriculum. Even for a small bit of arts and crafts.

“Doing a read-aloud even though I was told not to because it didn’t cover the standards 🙄” —Susan H.

“Allowing students quiet time to read a book of their own choosing.” —Chris C.

“Veering off of my stated lesson plans when the kids need more time on a subject than I had budgeted for.” —Bev K.


“Teaching without the use of textbooks!” —Rebekah S.

“Doing a craft or extra little art project because it doesn’t align with the standards.” —Samantha W.

“Speaking the same language as your ELLs to help them learn the concepts.” —AS Laura.

Putting students first

Putting the mental health and your students first shouldn’t seem like you’re breaking the rules, but teachers often felt that way.

“Making decisions, those that suit my students best in my classroom, rather than rigidly sticking to the ‘plan.'” —Carol TW.

“Letting kids retake the test until they get a grade they can be proud of.” —Paige L.

“Treating students with respect. I’ve had so many colleagues who refuse to apologize or admit when they’ve wronged a kid, and it’s a real plague.” —Lee C.

“Comforting a teenager when they’re crying. A child, through tears, asked me for a hug. I heard myself say, yes, but we will have to move to where the cameras can see us. 😢” —Sophie C.

“Taking care of student emotional needs before academics.” —Maria C.

“Loving and making my LGBTQ+ students feel safe…” —Kimberly P.

Letting kids be kids

Letting students be kids often felt like it was going against teaching rules.

“Allowing them to talk in the library. It’s loud. I don’t actually care. I feel like I should care, but only because it annoys others. It doesn’t bother me at all.” —Kerry N.

“Just going out to play when we have had a hard time, teacher included.” —Roslyn E.

“Noise, chatter, laughter, clapping, sitting on the floor, moving tables and chairs—lots of different things happening in a shared space.” —Mel K.

“Having a loud classroom for certain activities.” —Clay K.

“Eating with kids in the room, and allowing kids to have a snack during class.” —Gretchen F.

Being human

Teachers are definitely superheroes, but we don’t have to be superhuman!

“Being human. I once had the privilege of working in a unit based on shared humanity for staff and students alike. The atmosphere was so different. It felt like a small miracle.” —Simenon H.

“Being vulnerable in front of your kids. Being willing to admit that you don’t know something, that you made a mistake, that you have feelings.” —John B.

“Being honest with students—we always feel we have to put on a front for them. Actually, they often respond with compassion and understanding if you’re upfront and explain you are not feeling well, it’s been a bad day or you haven’t quite got the lesson perfect because of circumstances.” —Natalie H.

Taking time for yourself

We all know that teachers take their work home with them, but what if we didn’t?

“Not actually planning during my planning time.” —Melissa P.

“Not touching my teacher bag at home!” —Jessica T.

“Taking a day off without feeling guilt. When I take a day off, and I’m out somewhere, I’m constantly looking around to see if there is anyone I know so I can ‘explain’ why I’m out of school.” —Melissa D.

Being comfortable

Taking time to go pee is viewed as breaking the rules? We need to fix that!

“Being able to breathe and using the bathroom when you need to use the bathroom, not when you have a break.” —Lori T.

“Wearing comfortable clothes to teach in!” Lauren W.

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Plus, teachers share their proudest moments of their careers!

25 Things Teachers Do That Feel Against the Rules ... But Aren't!