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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Does teaching require a sense of humor?

Does teaching require a sense of humor?

Related Tags: Classroom Management
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Came across a great question on Google+ this week from a high school teacher in Texas: Does teaching require a sense of humor?

He linked to this article: "Reasons why high school teachers need a sense of humor." Here's one of my favorite quotes:

"Being a high school teacher requires a sense of humor. In a high school classroom you will encounter pranksters, gossips, ne'er-do-wells, cynics, and a whole slew of other teenagers well past their doe-eyed childhood. Sometimes teenage rebellion and adolescent angst has morphed eager-to-please youngsters into brooding, snappish proto-adults. A sense of humor can help prevent a teacher from blowing his or her stack as the flows of quips, complaints, and bickering never seem to cease."

While the article speaks specifically to high school teachers, I think this applies all around! How do you use humor in your classroom? Do you consider it part of your classroom management "tool belt?"

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Katy Utter's picture
Katy Utter
Social Media Intern at Edutopia

Responses on Twitter

We asked our Twitter community "Does #teaching require a sense of humor?" and got back some great answers:

Mister J: Yes! It shows students that you're human.

Sandra: It can, when used appropriately. Humor can lighten the moment & can be used to give examples non-threateningly.

Scott: Must have a great sense of humor to connect with kids

Tiffany: If you want to survive in education you ABSOLUTELY need a sense of humor! You won't last long if you don't!

WHYS: definitely requires a sense of humor and light-heartedness! By appreciating silliness, teachers brighten classroom vibes

Andie: Humour in the classroom is paramount! Without laughter, life would be boring. Humour also helps in breaking the ice w/ communication.

Kristen: absolutely! There are far too many ridiculous, sad, or scary moments to not laugh.

Kate: How else can you survive?

Donald: Humor yes - for sure... cutting sarcasm - no...

What would you add?

Anand Avnesh's picture

i teach students from 6th to 10th grade at my after school coaching institute.
i have slowly developed different levels of sense of humor for kids of different ages e.g kids from 10 years to 16 years.
my class has a balance between light hearted humor & focused academics.
i m sure, i cant teach a single session without a bit of jokes...

Whitney Hoffman's picture
Whitney Hoffman
Producer LD Podcast, Digital Media Consultant, Author

I absolutely agree you have to have a sense of humor. It's like parenting. When you are able to laugh, you are human. It brings people closer together. That said, the classroom is not a comedy club, and you never want to get it into one upsmanship, but finding irony and humor in things and pointing them out helps form those bonds that make a classroom work like a family. You gotta like each other, and a bit of levity makes that possible.

Mike Procyk's picture
Mike Procyk
Band teacher from Bowling Green, Ohio

I find it's the best way to relate to students. t helps them feel comfortable with you. Although, you also have to be careful to not let it go too far. Too much and things can get out of hand quickly.

Stephen Portz's picture
Stephen Portz
High School Engineering (Career and Technical)

Perhaps most important is modeling appropriate humor in a structured setting, where they can practice, perhaps messup, get some direction and get it right. I think part of that is the teacher having the ability to appreciate and validate the student's humor. I had a student in a graphics design class that was low functioning but very sharp and delightful in his humor. Josh spoke haltingly in much the same way as the Forrest Gump character portrayed by Tom Hanks. Anyway, we had just completed a really big layout and I was introducing the class to the large format 4color printer and how to use it. It is actually quite entertaining to watch it print because after it finishes it drops off the last ink cartridge and picks up a razor knife and slices the printout off of the roll. The class was watching the first layout come off of the printer and the student that created the file was watching with nervous expectation with their hands clenched together up by their face. I mentioned quietly to Josh that they reminded me of an expectant parent waiting for their child to be born. Without missing a beat Josh turned to me and said, well it is not often that you see your child born and circumcised all in the same time.

Michele's picture
Michele
High School English teacher, graduate student

[quote]Perhaps most important is modeling appropriate humor in a structured setting, where they can practice, perhaps messup, get some direction and get it right. I think part of that is the teacher having the ability to appreciate and validate the student's humor. I had a student in a graphics design class that was low functioning but very sharp and delightful in his humor. Josh spoke haltingly in much the same way as the Forrest Gump character portrayed by Tom Hanks. Anyway, we had just completed a really big layout and I was introducing the class to the large format 4color printer and how to use it. It is actually quite entertaining to watch it print because after it finishes it drops off the last ink cartridge and picks up a razor knife and slices the printout off of the roll. The class was watching the first layout come off of the printer and the student that created the file was watching with nervous expectation with their hands clenched together up by their face. I mentioned quietly to Josh that they reminded me of an expectant parent waiting for their child to be born. Without missing a beat Josh turned to me and said, well it is not often that you see your child born and circumcised all in the same time.[/quote][quote]Perhaps most important is modeling appropriate humor in a structured setting, where they can practice, perhaps messup, get some direction and get it right. I think part of that is the teacher having the ability to appreciate and validate the student's humor. I had a student in a graphics design class that was low functioning but very sharp and delightful in his humor. Josh spoke haltingly in much the same way as the Forrest Gump character portrayed by Tom Hanks. Anyway, we had just completed a really big layout and I was introducing the class to the large format 4color printer and how to use it. It is actually quite entertaining to watch it print because after it finishes it drops off the last ink cartridge and picks up a razor knife and slices the printout off of the roll. The class was watching the first layout come off of the printer and the student that created the file was watching with nervous expectation with their hands clenched together up by their face. I mentioned quietly to Josh that they reminded me of an expectant parent waiting for their child to be born. Without missing a beat Josh turned to me and said, well it is not often that you see your child born and circumcised all in the same time.[/quote]

Great story, Stephen.

Ellen Sinclair's picture
Ellen Sinclair
1st grade teacher in Malvern, PA

I work with 6 year olds every day. They will tell you anything and are brutally honest. You have to have a sense of humor with these little ones. On the first day of school, one little boy raised his hand to say "Mrs. Sinclair? I just wanted to tell you that I am a very nice person." I had to laugh and tell him that I was sure that he was and I was excited to know it.

'Nessa's picture
'Nessa
Year 6/7 classroom teacher

Oh my goodness how could anyone teach today without a sense of humour? Children delight in seeing tears of joy stream down your face as you share a fun moment in class. A teacher that laughs and cries with a class allows a warmth which helps get children, and colleagues, through tough times. The day I lose my sense of humour and fun is the day I retire! Take joy in every day and your students will too!

sally's picture

Here is my problem. I am accused of things ,but I don't know what I am being accused of. Try working in those conditions. I have taught 27 years. Here is my latest management issue. I had a science class, lesson went well, then I said students could wash hands in the sink next to my room. To my surprise they all got up 16 of them and went to wash their hands. It was quite loud and I told the students we could not have this noise and only two students could wash hands. I am sure it echoed because it is a small area. Later a Title teacher appeared in my room,she is also a parent in the school, and she proceeded to give me a lame story about she was just checking out how the small room was being used. I really do not believe this. Our principal was out and I am feeling that this person iheard the science blooper and will make a big issue. I did not make the same mistake with the next group and yesterday I wrote up experiment procedures to go over and give to each student. All this is causing me much grief, crying every night, stress, and feeling like a failure. What would you all do????????

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