19 Ways Teaching Was Different in the ’90s

If you close your eyes, you can almost hear the whirring of the overhead projector fan.

Paired image of a Tech Deck finger skateboard and three denim dresses

Vibe with me here.

It’s 1993. You wake up, put your hair in a claw clip, fluff your bangs, and throw on an oversized sports jacket (don’t worry, it goes with your high-waisted pleated pants). You pour yourself a bowl of Waffle Crisp while catching the end of a Jenny Jones rerun on the tiny black-and-white TV in your kitchen. You hop in your Chevy Corsica and jam out to your Whitney Houston cassette.

You’re on your way to teach in the ’90s.

Whether or not you can actually remember being in the classroom in the 1990s, here’s how teaching was different in this golden (and hot pink and aqua) age:

1. You had to keep track of software and resources on CDs and floppy disks.

CD roms and floppy disks scattered on top of graph paper

2. You decked out your classroom in Garfield posters.

A poster with Garfield promoting reading

Source: eBay

3. Students had to wait until they got home to tell their parents the flagrant injustices you’d committed.


But they’d usually forget them by lunchtime.

4. Your entire professional life was either printing, writing upon, or cleaning transparencies.

An overhead projector in a classroom

“It’s on the ceiling” was the ’90s version of “You’re on mute.”

5. You found the Superman “S” drawn on every classroom surface at the end of the day.

A drawing of "the superman S" popular in the 90s

Source: Instructables

6. TVs were wheeled in on carts and had to be requested in advance.

An old TV on a cart with wheels in a classroom
Source: Reddit

If your class heard those wheels squeaking down the hallway, they knew their day was about to get a whole lot better.

7. Classroom management came in the form of scratch ’n sniff stickers.

Scratch 'n sniff stickers from the 1990s
Source: Imgur

What did the robot one smell like?

8. You took up notes instead of phones. (If you could get them open.)

Folded notes from the 1990s

9. Progress reports actually functioned as progress reports.

And you didn’t have to document six phone calls home before putting a grade below 90 on them.

10. You shudder now thinking of what your students were looking up on “The World-Wide Web” without firewalls or filters of any kind.


11. You went around stunting in one of these get-ups.

Dibs on the one on the left.

12. You didn’t have to think about assigning un-Googleable homework questions.

Ask Jeeves wasn’t great at linear algebra.

13. School funding apparently depended on cereal box tops.

Coupons from General Mills' Box Tops for Education promotion

Source: Listia

14. You were constantly confiscating Tamagotchis, Game Boy Advances, and Tech Decks.

Finger skateboard known as Tech Deck

Source: Amazon

15. You rushed to the cafeteria a little faster than you’d like to admit on rectangle-pizza day.

Smiling school lunch lady holding pizza cut into rectangles

Craving a piece of that rectangular goodness? Here’s a copycat recipe!

16. You had to literally pry your students away from Kid Pix and Oregon Trail.

Screen shot of computer drawing program Kid Pix Screen shot of computer game Oregon Trail

Sources: Wikipedia and Know Your Meme

Want to jump back in time? You can still play around on Kid Pix and try your luck on the Oregon Trail!

17. You knew there was going to be a mutiny when you brought this bad boy out.

Brainquest trivia cards used with students

Source: Brain Quest on Amazon

18. You’d crack open a refreshing beverage between classes.

Snapple dispenser machine

Sources: Pinterest and Reddit r/Nostalgia

19. Dress-code violators rocked JNCO jeans and Bart Simpson T-shirts.

Two people wearing JNCO jeans of the 1990s T-shirt with Bart Simpson skateboarding and yelling, "Eat my shorts!"

Sources: Throwbacks and Pacsun

Whether you feel more “Good Riddance” or “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” about your ’90s teaching days, I hope you enjoyed this little stroll down memory lane. (Feel free to listen to either song in your portable CD player.)

What do you remember about teaching or learning in the ’90s? Let us know in the comments!

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19 Ways Teaching Was Different in the ’90s