Why You Need To Bring More Humor To Your Classroom Smart Classroom Management


No, you don’t have to be riotously funny. You don’t have to prepare daily jokes and stories. You don’t even have to try to make your students laugh.

But you do need to prioritize humor in your classroom.

Have a spirit of laughter, a mere openness and nothing more, and the rest will take care of itself. You see, students are primed to laugh. They’re the most receptive and forgiving audience in the world.

It doesn’t take much and they’re so appreciative of the effort.

I’ve long talked about the advantage humor has given me throughout my career. It’s my secret weapon, my superpower, my kitchen counter alchemy that cures all. In my first book, Dream Class, I listed some of the many things I’ve done over the years to delight my class.

I’ve used celebrity voices, dressed and pretended I was someone else, tripped over chairs, answered phone calls with my shoe, sang opera while giving directions, danced ballet passing out assignments, had the principal pretend that we switched jobs, given every student a goofy nickname, and told a million crazy but not-so-true stories.

Not only do I love doing it, but it makes classroom management a lot easier. It’s like sliding a fulcrum point further away from you, allowing more leverage with less effort.

It’s important to mention that you don’t have to use humor to be successful with SCM.

You do, however, need SCM to take advantage of using humor. Otherwise, in the absence of effective behavior management, you risk losing control of your class. It’s also important to note that you have to pick your spots. It can’t be silliness all day long.

But small doses here and there can help mold your class into the most well-behaved and motivated class you’ve ever taught. What follows are the three biggest benefits you’ll experience by merely being open to more humor.

1. Your classroom management plan will have greater meaning.

The more your students enjoy being in your class, the less they want to be separated from it. Every student loves humor, even and especially your most challenging students.

Humor helps widen the gap between the experience of being part of the class in good standing and sitting in time-out and not being allowed to take part. In other words, with a bit of extra humor your rules and consequences matter more to students.

2. Rapport is easier.

When you tap into your own unique sense of humor, you become more approachable. Your likability soars and your students want to be around you and to get to know you better.

Your relationships then become more organic and less forced and awkward. There is greater comfort in your presence and in discussions with you. Fear and shyness are eliminated, trust comes more readily, and on-topic participation improves.

3. Influence is greater.

With likability comes influence. In this day and age especially, students won’t listen to your advice if they don’t like you. In fact, there must be admiration in order for them to take your advice, exhortations, and encouragement to heart.

Humor is the cheat code to greater influence. It also frees you to raise the bar of excellence higher and higher and ask more of your students—and get it—because they know you enjoy being with them and have their best interest in mind.

It’s An Experience

I can’t imagine teaching as long as I have without using humor. When I think back over the years, the memories of laughter with students come at me in a rush and are most prominent.

I can see their faces, students from decades ago, smiling wide and happy.

Your classroom is an experience. It’s a moment in time that will stay with them for a lifetime. They’re only with you once, one year of their life, and then it’s over. It’s never coming back again. So, for them and for you, make it memorable.

Teach the lessons of responsibility and hard work and intrinsic motivation through the SCM approach. Continue to be consistently kind. Raise the bar on academics and politeness higher than anyone would dare. And if you’re so inspired, if you’re fearless and willing to let your self-consciousness fall away . . .

Then allow yourself to have fun every day. You’ll find a joy in teaching you never knew existed and your students will love you for it.

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