While I was student teaching at a high school, I was paired with my humorous college classmate Tony. He always cracked jokes and could light up the room with his master storytelling. He would introduce himself as “Toe-Knee” while pointing to his toe and knee, which got an immediate laugh out of students.
As we began student teaching together, I wondered how his antics would affect the students’ perception of him as a teacher. Would they take advantage of him? Would they refuse to take him seriously? Would they gravitate towards his teaching? All these questions lingered in my mind as we began the great adventure of student teaching together.
Bringing humor into the classroom can be a tricky one for teachers for this reason. When you begin practicing this art form, there’s that learning curve of gaging how much to bring in or exactly what will work for your classroom.
One thing is for certain though, a teacher must have control of their classroom if they want to start bringing in humor. Students can quickly take advantage of a teacher trying to be funny and the classroom can spiral out of control. If you need some tips on how to maintain your classroom, check out our proactive classroom management tips here and our reactive classroom management tips here.
In the grand scheme of things, Tony was on to something. Humor can help reduce tensions of stress from high stakes testing, help students forget about problems at home, and even help students get excited about learning.
One of the best benefits that humor can bring is a connection between students and teachers. Building a relationship with students not only helps build a student’s trust with their teacher, but it can make a teacher’s class easier to handle and help lead a teacher into creating a culture of learning. The lessons in these types of classrooms are the lessons that stick.
To help teachers bring laughter into the classroom, we have put together five ideas that they can easily insert into their day.
- Insert humorous questions into tests, homework or classroom assignments. Personally, this has always been one of my favorites. There is nothing like solving math problems about the woes of a famous musician or finding the velocity of a wombat that a zoo keeper has thrown off a ledge. These questions can always help ease stress and tension of students when they are working. My favorite part is seeing a student smile in the middle of their fixed focus. You can even use it to gage where students are in the test.
- Change up your morning routine. Many teachers start with a warm-up to get students their brains ready for class. However, sometimes brains need breaks. Every once in a while, instead of a normal warm-up, teachers can start the day off with a funny/inspiring video. For example, Kid President has a good amount of material that would be great for starting the day.
- Add some funny décor. Having some posters around the room that are funny can be a daily reminder to students to relax and enjoy the learning process. Some teachers even have funny hats or corners where students can go and destress. I even remember in high school, there was a calculus teacher who would make his students all wear Burger King hats during fire drills because he told the students that the hats would protect them from the fire (although I am sure he was doing this so he could easily keep track of his class). The students would then receive extra credit if they wore the hat all day.
- Start a quote of the day. While teaching high school math, I used to have a side board in the classroom where I would write a quote of the day. Not every quote had to be funny, some were motivational or thought-provoking. However, having a Friday Funny can usually send some smiles around the classroom as students find their seats.
- Laugh at yourself. Sometimes as teachers, we do something silly or have brain farts. By laughing at yourself, you show that you are not only human, but that it is okay to make mistakes. This is a lesson they can take into their profession, into parenthood, and into life. More on that here.
If you are looking for more ways to add laughter to the classroom, check out these 21 tips to create a classroom culture of laughter from Fusion Yearbooks.
We would love to hear from you! What are some of your favorite ways to bring laughter to the classroom? Comment below and share on social media using the hashtags #cultureoflaughter #outlierseries.