15 Everyday Incidents That Make Even the Strongest Teachers Cry

Pass the tissues, please.

Why Teachers Cry at Work

Teachers are warriors, but even the strongest among us are subject to bad days (and a whole lot of tears). Whether the source of our stress is an unsuccessful lesson plan, intense parents, rowdy students, or just bad luck, we’ve all had moments when we want throw up our arms and sob. Here are some of the top reasons teachers cry at work. 

1. When the teachers’ lounge is out of coffee …

When You Need Coffee

Caffeine: the lifeblood of teachers everywhere. Without this essential chemical, even Matilda’s Miss Honey can become a Ms. Trunchbull. A coffee shortage in the teachers’ lounge can be just as bad as a library without books.

2. When technology fails you …

When Technology Fails

The only reliable thing about classroom technology is how unreliable it is. Nothing grinds our gears—or triggers tears—like faulty technology, and if we had a nickel for every time a PowerPoint wouldn’t load, the copy machine jammed, or the printer ran out of ink, our summer vacations would be much more extravagant.

3. When you get a paper cut while handing out lesson plans …

Papercut in the Classroom

Just because you’re teaching a class of children doesn’t mean you don’t feel like a child yourself from time to time. You never outgrow the pain of papercuts and they never stop appearing at the most inopportune times. Nothing makes a grammar worksheet fun like a smear of blood on the corner.

4. When a student tells you they hate your class …

Literarlly Hate You

It’s impossible not to take it personally when a student tells you they hate your class or the subject you teach. This usually results from their own lack of confidence in the subject, but every conscientious teacher will choke up a bit when they hear those words.

5. When your yogurt explodes in your lunchbox …


Spilled Yogurt

We love a healthy serving of dairy. And there’s nothing quite as soul-crushing as a soggy, yogurt-covered lunch. If you’re lucky, the rest of your meal will be tightly sealed and protected from yogurt-ageddon, but we all know that when it rains (yogurt), it pours.

6. When you make 30 copies of the wrong worksheet … 

Crying in the office

On the off chance you do get the copier to work, you may be so tired or distracted in the morning that you make 20 or 30 copies of the wrong materials—or worse, copies of your grocery list. If that’s the case, prepare for a question concerning the Trader Joe’s cheese puffs and Two-Buck Chuck on your list.

7. When you have to stay late to grade papers … 

Staing Late Crying

Q: If 25 students have 4 pages of homework each, how many pages does their poor teacher have to grade?

A: 100 pages.

100 pages of grading x 1 very tired teacher = tears galore

8. When lesson planning consumes your weekends …

I Have No Life

When one unit ends, another begins. And just like that you find yourself wearing the same pajama pants from Friday evening to Monday morning. Hello, Domino’s Pizza delivery; goodbye, social life.

9. When helicopter parents give you unsolicited teaching advice …

Listen Up

Ah, parents. They can be your best volunteers and your worst critics—after their children, of course. It’s all too common for misinformed parents to call with unwelcome teaching advice. While they may have the best intentions, few of them have teaching degrees or have even attempted to teach long division to a class of bored fifth graders.

10. When your classroom is too small for the number of students you have …


… And you bang your shin or hip on a desk while moving around the room. Bite your tongue, teachers, and pop a window. Unless …

11. When your classroom has no windows …

Darkness in the Classroom

There are few things more depressing than being shut inside on a beautiful spring day when you can’t even see the grass or flowers or, heck, even the rain showers outside. Sure, the great outdoors can be distracting for students, but no teacher loves feeling trapped in their own classroom. Unless, of course, that teacher is Professor Dracula.

12. When you get chalk all over your dark pants … 

Cover Up

You’re deep in your zone, scribbling the quadratic formula or theory of relativity on the board, and make the unconscious move to wipe your sweaty palms on your beautifully dark pants or skirt. We’d say “facepalm” if it wouldn’t result in a chalk-covered forehead.

13. When your students point out a wardrobe malfunction … 

Wardrobe Malfunction

Open flies, inside-out blouses, skirts tucked into tights—oh my! Kids can be absolutely brutal when it comes to pointing out adults’ flaws, and teachers are the perfect targets. Be sure to give yourself a once- or twice-over each time you leave the bathroom.

14. When after-school faculty meetings make you miss the latest episode of This Is Us …

This Is Us

Admittedly, this is a bad example because who doesn’t cry during every episode of This Is Us? But falling behind on your favorite series, no matter what it is, is always a tragedy.

15. When you spend three weeks on a topic, and your students don’t remember anything about it …

Make Me Cry

It’s incredible how quickly students can forget what you’ve taught them—if they ever retained the information at all. Even the best teacher can feel invisible at times like this and second-guess their existence. But take heart, fellow teachers. For every tear-inducing moment, there’s something to laugh about later on—or at least a few GIFs to express just how you’re feeling.

What are the other moments that make teachers cry? Come and share in our WeAreTeachers Chat group on Facebook.

Plus, the craziest teacher nightmares.