“I’ll Never Do That Again!” 25 Spectacular (and Relatable) Teacher Fails  

“… yada, yada, yada, we had to call the fire department.”

Two photos of teacher fails

One thing (among many) I love about teachers: We’ll try anything.

Sometimes it’s a win. We might plan a multicultural festival, bringing in food, games, and traditions from around the world. Or have a historic dinner party where students learn about a historical figure and have to debate, in character, on a variety of topics.

Other times we find ourselves mummifying a chicken right before spring break. Building birdhouses with power tools, oil-based paint, and glitter. Kindergarten chess club with no parent volunteers.

The bright side? There is no losing in teaching. Only learning. And hopefully laughing.

Take a look at what our teacher audience said they will never do again.

Creative lessons gone wrong

1. “Indoor hot-air balloons.”


“Tissue paper, glue sticks, Bunsen burner canisters … yada yada yada, we had to call the fire department.”

—Sue L.

2. “Wind erosion experiment using sand and straws … you get the picture.”

—Monica R.

3. “Puppet show project!”

“Had kids rewrite a folktale into a play and then perform it with puppets. Holy moly, those were the l o n g e s t plays I’ve ever seen.”

—Sarah S.

4. “I brought some cattails to school so the students could see the seeds.”

“We had cattail fluff floating all over the place. It’s amazing how far they float in a building! I wouldn’t do that inside the building again, lol.”

—Renee J.

5. “Creative writing just after reading them a Halloween story.”

—Heidi T.

6. “I thought it would be fun to paint with mustard for the letter ‘M’ week …”

“Ohh nooo!!! The smell!!! This was preschool, by the way.”

—Jonie G.

Media mishaps

7. “I showed a YouTube video about the Gingerbread Man without previewing it first.”

“The baker ended up eating the head off the talking gingerbread man. The kids were traumatized.”

—Emily G.

8. “I showed a video with Elmo and Julia Roberts talking about sharing.”

“Someone dubbed over it, and Elmo is talking to Julia and all of a sudden he says, ‘Elmo says F*** you!’ I have not shown a video I haven’t prewatched since then. Twenty phone calls to parents that night. I wanted to die.”

—Allison D.

9. “Showed the kids the video of a timpanist accidentally beaning a fellow percussionist with a flying drumstick when I was presenting the timpani as an instrument.”

“Halfway through class. We did not manage to do the second half of class.”

—Siobhan M.

These seemingly innocuous practices

10. “Using glitter.”

—Melanie G.

11. “Exercise ball seats.”


—Michael G.

12. “Musical chairs.”

—Brandi N.

13. “Rhyming the ‘uck’ word family!”

—Bonnie M.

Rookie mistakes

14. “Giving up coffee.”

—Allison L.

15. “Giving out my personal cell number to parents.”

“NEVER AGAIN. ‘Janet’ couldn’t even hold off until after I got up from my Thanksgiving dinner to ask about an assignment Little Timmy made an 80 on.”

—Kaitlin B.

16. “Writing words in shaving cream on our desks …”

“… which got interrupted by a surprise fire drill.”

—Celeste A.

17. “Tie-dye with pre-K.”

—Barbara D.

18. “Unsupervised hot-glue gun …”

—Sarah G.

19. “Ant farm. First grade.”

“I am positive you know what happened!!!!!”

—Kathy H.

20. “My husband once ran a kindergarten chess club.”

“He still talks about it regularly and not in a good way!”

—Kayla C.

Miscellaneous fails

21. “Drawing a rocket on the whiteboard.”

—Jessica G.

22. “Never teach a class of 25 beginning percussionists again.”

“That’s 50 drumsticks.”

—Diane D.

23. “Elf on the Shelf. I’m Jewish and had no clue how it worked.”

—Jessica R.

24. “Hamsters.”

“Never again will I have hamsters. I thought I bought two males. Nope. It was a male and female. They reproduced and then ate their babies. I’m traumatized for life. Never again.”

—Altered E.

25. “Years ago my school asked teachers to decorate their door for Dr. Seuss Week.”

“I decided to do The Foot Book. Painted the bottom of my students’ feet making footprints on bulletin board paper. Didn’t realize that the smell of their feet would make me gag. That was the last time we painted feet.”

—Annette T.

And my personal favorite: regrets in advance

“Tomorrow I’m doing a bottle-flipping experiment—I may have regrets!”

—Patty M.

We never learn, do we? : )

Looking for more articles like this? Subscribe to our newsletters.

Ever wonder what things teachers will never do again? From lesson fails to media disasters, these mishaps will have you rolling.