7 Ways Teachers and Actors Have A Lot in Common (Minus the Salary, Of Course!)

2 min


When I’m not teaching, one of the many things I like to do in my free time is act. I’m constantly auditioning at local community theaters and there was always one thing that struck me as odd:

Why aren’t there more teachers at this audition? I mean, if teaching isn’t the closest profession to acting, then I’ve been doing one of those two things wrong my entire life.

So, for drama nerds and teachers alike, here are 7 ways that teaching is a whole lot like acting.

1. Opening night jitters


As an actor, you audition, you get the part of your dreams, and you spend months crafting a brilliant performance. Then, the time comes to put it all together, stand in front of a live audience and dazzle them. It’s tense, nerve-wracking, painful, exciting and vomit-inducing. Teachers get this exact same feeling the night before the first day of school.

2. Developing your character

Any actor worth his/her salt knows that the key to a good performance is deciding who your character is. How do they emote? What are their personality traits? What’s their motivation? Teaching is no different. Before you walk into that classroom on the very first day of school you need to decide who you’re going to be. The cool laid-back teacher with the snarky one-liners? The high energy maelstrom of excitement? So many choices.

3. Knowing your audience

How you teach depends heavily on who you teach. Obviously, you’re not going to be firing large doses of sarcasm at a class full of kindergarteners. And you absolutely don’t want to hold hands and sing kumbaya with a bunch of emo middle schoolers. Read the room and adjust accordingly.

4. Staying in character


Just like an actor knows they must be “on” every time they walk on that stage, teachers know their “performance” starts the minute that bell rings. When your class clown shouts out a wildly inappropriate (yet hysterical) comment, you need to reach down to your inner DeNiro and keep a straight face. If you turn into Jimmy Fallon every time something funny happens, your classroom will devolve into Amateur Night at the Improv.

5. Putting on your best performance

Broadway actors do 8 shows a week. 8 long, tiring shows each and every week, and guess what? They’re not always at their best. But from your seat in the audience, you’d never know. Same goes for teaching. Stomach bug? Headache? Bladder on the verge of eruption? It doesn’t matter. You must deliver a top-notch performance no matter what.

6. Learning to improvise


No matter how many rehearsals you have or performances you have made it through, sooner or later something will not go according to the script. Talented actors know how to roll with the punches and keep the scene going at all costs. Teachers also have an amazing ability to navigate through a sea of fire drills, observations, and other assorted distractions, to keep their audience classroom entertained.

7. Post-show depression

No matter how much fun it is to stand on stage and pretend to be someone else, acting is hard. You have to memorize mountains of information, deal with hordes of people telling you what to do, and spend countless hours putting it all together. Even still, when a show closes you’re sad to see it go. Teachers feel the same way on the last day of school. Saying a wistful goodbye to the student that just spent 9 months terrorizing your classroom and bidding a fond farewell to that group of students that still don’t know how to multiply fractions.

That’s because deep down inside we may complain about the process, but we love every minute of it.


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David Rode

Veteran Legend

I'm currently a Middle School Math Teacher which means I'm also a glutton for punishment. Honestly though, I am keenly aware that Middle School is basically the worst 3 years in the life of a child, so it's my mission to make it suck less. I'm also a musician, a community theater, Dad to two amazing children, and I don't get a lot of sleep.

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