In math class, students sit slouched in their chairs, staring in the direction of the teacher, me. Some students are cross-eyed with blank, spacy expressions on their faces. I was enthusiastically explaining the art of the distribution property for multiplication. Who wouldn’t be excited about this? I thought this concept was the greatest thing since peanut butter! So, what was wrong? Mmmmm. As I surveyed the room, I was sure some students were on the verge of nodding off. I saw one student completely unabsorbed picking his nose. While still, other students seemed not to care. You guys don’t find stuff interesting? Ok, reality check.
Suddenly, I shouted, Wake Up! You all look like Penny from the Big Bang Theory (popular at the time)! The students sporadically jerked and jumped while giggling. Was it because I was no longer talking about distribution theory, or maybe because I mentioned a goofy show, or perhaps it was because I was finally connecting with them? Whatever the reason, we spent the rest of the time learning about distribution theory in a fun and entertaining manner.
Sometimes in a classroom, time seems to stand still, and student’s minds thicken with thoughts, lots of ideas (none of them about math). Eyes glaze over and you know you have lost them. It is time for a break – a laughter break.
The difficulty with laughter has always been in the delivery and the willingness for the teacher to “bomb”. Not to mention overcoming the traditional pedagogy that has shaped many teachers, i.e., instruction is all business. So, if you are willing, dissent, try some simple ways to bring humor into the classroom. You will be pleasantly surprised! A word of caution make sure that you or your students never use humor to put someone down or make fun of them. This is especially true for diverse and inclusion students in your classrooms. A classroom is a place of safety, not a comedy club. The use of humor is to engage students, draw their attention to your lesson, and offer inspiration.
But I am NOT a funny teacher! I hear this all the time.
Here are six pointers to make you a funnier teacher even if you aren’t.
Becoming a funnier teacher is possible for everyone. However, it does take a little convincing and practice to do it – but you can do it. The bottom line – you students will love you and they wouldn’t even realize they are learning.
Written by PJ Larsen, Ed. D., Veteran classroom teacher, college professor, and adventure traveler.
The child who is ‘left behind’ most is the one who leaves school without transition readiness.
Dr. James Stanfield, Ed.D.