12 Circus Acts That Teachers Perform On a Daily Basis

3 min


You know the saying, “Not my circus, not my monkeys?” Well, for teachers, it turns out, this IS our circus and these ARE our monkeys. Teachers are educated professionals who are overworked and underpaid. We work at a circus every day for peanuts. It’s only fair we should get the free popcorn and travel. My thought is, the next time the circus comes through town, any one of us could freshen up our resume with our actual skills and apply for any of the following positions:

1. Juggler

Gif Circus show, 3 people juggling with fire

We can juggle a tote of graded papers, coffee, water, lunch, books we found at a yard sale over the weekend, and a bag of new school supplies all while unlocking the school building door on a Monday morning. We juggle the responsibilities of being our students’ educator, counselor, disciplinarian, and sometimes parent figure. Bring on some bowling pins.

2. Entertainer

Mary Poppins, man dancing with penguins, Teachers perform circus act

We are “on” for 7 hours a day, 5 days a week. There’s no opportunity to turn it off until 4:00 on Friday. We sing, dance, and all but stand on our heads most days. Entertaining a crowd of eager, money-paying consumers HAS to be easier than entertaining a crowd of bored, unimpressed students. I can practically hear the calliope music now.

3. Barker

Gif man bowing salutingNot only do our teacher voices provide the perfect volume for commanding attention, but we also know how to sell a performance. We can talk up the most mundane of experiences to make them exciting:  WE ARE DOING AN AWESOME SCIENCE LAB TODAY!! (Or you know, pouring water on a pie plate of soil to watch erosion). Give us some real entertainment to sell.

4. Tight rope walker

Charlie Chaplin walking on tight rope gifDon’t mind us, over here trying to keep parents, students, administrators and colleagues all happy at the same time. We walk a fine line all day, every day. And falling off that line is just as dangerous as falling off the tight rope. One misstep and our livelihood is ruined.

5. Lion tamer

Blond lady with a whip taming a lion

We’ve all literally said this sentence or one very close to it to a student: “You are not a lion. Quit acting like one.” (Variations: You are not a monkey. You are not a cat. You are not a horse. Endless possibilities). Also, we’ve all been growled at and/or bitten at some point in our teaching career. Taming one lion? I tame 70 lions every day.

6. Ringmaster

3 men jumping from trampolines into rings during circus act

Announce what’s to be expected, get spectators and participants excited about the activities, watch over and take responsibility for what happens in the 3 rings? Sounds like learning centers to me. Throw in a top hat and a whip and we could start the job today.

7. Contortionist

Impressive contortionist show gif

Has a contortionist ever had to share their box of doom with dozens of children? We share a small windowless room with multiple other people for 7 hours a day. If you count “lockdown” drills or bad weather drills, we occupy an even smaller space than a contortionist, bending our already tired bodies around to simulate protecting our kids, all while trying to keep them and ourselves completely silent in a dark room and trying not to inhale a flu germ.  Also, after years of teaching, being in a box by myself for a while sounds magical.

8. Stilt walker

Lady dressed as butterfly walking on stilts during circus act

We actively monitor tests, moving silently and slowly about from high above the crowd. Give us some stilts. In fact, if we can’t have the circus job, could we at least have the stilts? That would make active monitoring more fun.

9. Sword Swallower

Topless man swallowing sword at circus act

If we are lucky, teachers have about 15 minutes to inhale lunch, and that’s on a good day. If you put a sword in a Tupperware dish or Ziploc bag, we wouldn’t be able to slow down enough to even know the difference. In fact, we could probably perform a sword swallowing trick while standing at a copy machine if that would add any entertainment value.

10. Acrobat

Acrobats making human pyramid while riding bikes

Besides performing daring, death-defying feats regularly, acrobats are all about working with a team, trusting that team with your very life. Acrobats rely on each other to perform their stunts safely. Is there a better metaphor for teaching? Other teachers are literally our lifeline. You can never feel defeated in a room full of teachers—they were made for building you up and catching you as you swing wildly out of control.

11. Escape Artist

Man tied up in aquarium trying to escape during circus act

Have you ever seen a teacher at 3:45 on a Friday? Neither has a parent or administrator. Teachers are masters of escaping a classroom and school building with the greatest of ease. No act of God or otherwise can keep a teacher locked in a school building once that final bell rings. Especially the weekend before Spring Break.

12. And finally, clown

Group of clowns performing during circus act

Laugh at our expense. We’ll laugh with you, to keep from crying.


This article was written by a guest blogger, teacher, wife, and mom of one, who is going into her 11th year teaching 4th grade. Her belief is that successful teaching is based solely on building relationships with her students…. but also Sonic drinks and a sense of humor.


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