10 Things That Only Happen When You’re Being Observed in Class

Can we fast forward through this, please?

Teacher Observation Fails That Happen to Everyone

No matter how good of a teacher you are, the day a member of the administration chooses to observe your class can be the most stressful of the year (and that’s including exam season). For some reason, the universe seems to be out to get us on the days our performances matter most, and no matter how hard we try, things never go according to plan. Read on for WeAreTeachers’ oh-so-relatable list of teacher observation fails that happen to everyone.

You arrive late.

Maybe it’s Monday morning, and you forgot to set your alarm over the weekend. Or perhaps your kids were throwing Polly Pockets around the kitchen instead of getting ready for school themselves. Maybe you hit traffic for the first time since you moved to this town. You might be Miss (or Mr.) Punctual 364 days of the year, but today you’ll roll in late, sweaty, and incredibly flustered.

Someone starts a fight.

Yes, your students are always perfect little angels. But today is different. Maybe it’s the pop quiz on a Wednesday morning that has your kids mutinying against you in a way they never have before. Or maybe it’s just the way the planets are aligned today. Where’s that white flag when you need it?

You lose your lesson plan.

Didn’t you take out your notes over coffee at Starbucks? Or maybe Panera Bread? Is your lesson plan in the trash with cold coffee and bagels, or did you simply leave it on top of your car as you were preparing to head into school this morning? And if so, what bewildered passerby witnessed that pile of papers flutter to the ground and into the gutter? So many unanswered questions, so little time to improvise.

You discover profanity drawn on classroom furniture.

Nothing says “I’ve got my class under control” like an obscene drawing on your desk, bookcase, or other piece of classroom furniture. With any luck, the Sharpie will come off with enough elbow grease. With even more luck, the administrator will suddenly remember that they have a dentist appointment at the same time as your class.

A student brings up an embarrassing detail from your personal life.


Whether you ran into a student outside of school, left your phone out in plain view, or let slip some detail of your personal life that is better left a secret, odds are that your student will bring up whatever personal matter they know about you in front of the authority figure quietly taking notes in the back of your classroom.

The projector doesn’t work.

In the whole wide world of predictable catastrophes, nothing is more certain than the fact that technology will fail you when you need it the most. After all, you learned this when it came to printing your term papers in college. Online quiz? Forget about it. SMART Board lesson? Totally out of the question. Today’s PowerPoint presentation is just as likely to happen as you getting through the day without crying.

An angry parent shows up to chat with you in person.

You and this particularly well-meaning—we hope—parent are well acquainted by now, but until today your interactions have been reserved to heated emails and phone calls. Today they decide to show up in person to discuss Brian’s grades, and it’s about all you can do not to slam the door on them.

You’re elbow deep in the never-ending *insert your least favorite subject here* project.

Is it a homemade volcano that has you covered in paint and baking soda? Better yet, how about animal guts from the dissection project you swore would only take two days? Top that off with the smell of formaldehyde, and this is shaping up to be a messy and disappointingly unproductive day.

Your kids forget everything you taught them over the last few weeks.

Nothing like a little rapid-fire question session to impress the administration, right? Be prepared for a symphony of cricket chirps when you ask your students to name the three phases of matter, recall the central theme of To Kill a Mockingbird, or list the original 13 colonies.

You have a wardrobe malfunction.

A chalky handprint on the butt of your black pants, a coffee stain on your white shirt, a run in your tights, or—God forbid—the hem of your skirt tucked into your waistband. No matter how hard you try to dress to impress, your students will undoubtedly point out a humiliating wardrobe malfunction. And based on how your day is going, your kids will likely document this foible on Snapchat. Is it Friday yet?

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Plus, Pinterest fails that are so bad they’re good

10 Things That Only Happen When You’re Being Observed in Class