Using humor in the classroom

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Do you want to have fun in school too? Are you a teacher? Is this possible at all?

Bosiljko Derek, Scientix Ambassador

How many times have you heard: “School is not fun!” It`s is boring! I am bored!

It starts from a first-grade…and it’s going to get worse every single year, not better.” Using humor in your classroom could be another way to engage and inspire your students. Also, it could be way for me, as a teacher, to make more fun in my daily routine.

And.., I want to do my job without stress, or with minimum stress.

But, I`m not trained to be a stand-up comedian, or entertainer, I`m trained to be a math teacher, no fun, no laugh, just pure math-without emotions, math without fun! Yes, you know it…

On the other hand, some of us are born without humor, without sense of humor. And I am talking to those among us, I am suggesting to those people to use humor, knowing that they do not have it. They are humorless. How is this possible?

Well, basically you do not need to have it, to be born with it, but you can still use it. It is possible to learn how to use it…trust me, I`m a math teacher 😊, I can teach you anything, I am teaching you something that you do not want to know-it`s my daily routine.

Remember, school is not military service!

Tips for using humor:

  • First, add humorous items to tests, for example, if you prepare test for your class, don`t create groups A, B, C…name your groups: Bran, Angelina and Jen
  • Give multiple choice options-right one, wrong one and “o my God, this is to hard” one
  • “I forget it” strategy…act like you instantly forget everything, or you can`t remember important thing, and ask your students for help. When you start working on something new, act like you don’t know how does this work…
  • Teach your students that you are not “God of knowledge”, and that you do not know everything, so when you do something silly or wrong it will be OK, and it will be all wright to laugh at it, even it will be OK to laugh at yourself
  • Use MEME if you want to teach them something really important: for example…I do often use tactics-One puppy die if you do.

Every time you do this:
One puppy dies.

  • If you have some stressful situation in you class, use humor to “break the ice”, if your students have some conflict, use humor to solve the situation
  • When your students have some project work or they are preparing some presentation for whole class, encourage them to use humor in it.
  • Wear T-shirt with funny, but subject orientated content
  • Voice if powerful instrument, so use your voice, wake up your students by changing the pitch of your voice…otherwise they will hear only blah blah blah blah…
  • Use music as intro for your lectures…for example:

Linear equation song or All I Do Is Solve

  • Use irony and sarcasm-but not too often
  • Use fear-when your student work on something, and you see that he is going to make mistake…scream, or do loud “Ouch”-so you give him/her a hint that he is going in wrong direction.
  • Use big goggles when you want to emphasize something, something that is really important, it will be funny and your students remember your look and connect content to your expression.
  • Use “funny” font
  • Use funny videos like this one:

Darth Vader explains Phytagorean theorem

Avoid:

  1. Use humor when it relates to and reinforces a message, not always, only for the special purpose!
  2. Newer use gender/race/economy humor connected to student, always be political correct. Racial slurs or put-downs of a target group must be avoided
  3. Irony and sarcasm-do not use it regularly, sometimes it is OK, but not regularly, delivering humor through insult or sarcasm may be defeating the purpose usually served by humor
  4. Don’t Try Too Hard- if you see that is not for you, get back on your old teaching stile
  5. If you already have poor classroom management, then trying to be funny will backfire on you. Behavior will likely get worse.
  6. Humor is most effective when it is appropriate.

By using humor in teaching, a number of effects are achieved. Some of them are:

  1. stress reduction
  2. increase of confidence
  3. increase of optimism
  4. increase in enthusiasm

I guess, it is time for us, for educators, to take humor more seriously 😉, let`s add some smile to everyday teaching. It could help to all of us, teachers and students…

Your students will love you for it! Trust me I`m a math teacher 😉!!!

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