LAUGHTER – the sure-fired attention getter for the NEW TEACHER

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I remember once someone telling me that if you were a guy and you wanted to meet a girl, all you had to do was make her laugh and you were half way there! Well there’s something in that for sure, the same goes for the teacher in the classroom (and I’m not talking about him getting a girl here either! Ahem…)

The truth is that laughter is the most effective way to get a persons’ attention, but let’s be honest, not everyone is a walking comedian. So what should you do?

Something I’ve learned too is that the art of comedy is not just telling a joke. When a comedian stands up he has to set up the atmosphere first but being just …well …friendly and easy to identify with. The first few laughs you get may be a slight snigger or giggle, but you won’t be having them rolling on the ground in the first 2 seconds. The key is getting them warmed up (which is usually done by another comedian before the main act arrives, then all you have to do is deliver). But that’s only if you are really famous, most are the ones who have to do the hard time as the warm-up-act.

So too is the classroom experience. You will be forever the warm-up-act. If you are lucky enough to have a reputation already with the class, then lucky you, your warm up period will be very short as you can get to the main content!

But the process of getting to the first laugh isn’t easy. It’s like any story. It has to have a beginning, middle and end. And if you can make it to the end, it will allow the comedian to nail it a few times with some added extras! So to speak.

So there you are in the class, the new teacher this is what I recommend as the set up, middle, main content and final conclusion:

  1. Enter with a smile
  2. Get to know everyone by name and ask questions about where they are from etc
  3. Move onto the introduction of the main lesson
  4. Monitor the class and see who appears to have a sense of humour already
  5. Focus a little on that person to help you warm up the class with the fun banter
  6. Focus again on the lesson and everyone will be feeling a little warmer
  7. Settle into the lesson
  8. Allow a moment to come up for students to create the scene for you by taking the opportunity to get students to stand up and role play or act out something.
  9. The students themselves will create the atmosphere for you to respond to.
  10. Never put the student down for anything – they are being very courageous remember
  11. Encourage some level of silliness (it helps relief embarrassment and shyness)
  12. Now you have something to respond to with a smile e.g. ‘well that was interesting’, ‘great acting!’, etc
  13. From this point, if you get even one laugh, this is the beginning, take your time and let the rest just follow naturally.

Remember laughter is fantastic when it comes but you have to work on it at the right pace, too fast and you look like you are trying hard, too slow and you look like you have no sense of humour. So pitching your lesson at just the right level takes time and experience, but your commitment will get you there and before you know it you will have your students rolling in the isles.

However, one word of warning about humour in the class, you not only have to pitch your comment at just the right place but be aware that not everyone will find your jokes funny, so try to go for the universal ones first, and test the waters of the drier bits of humour later. Some nationalities find some things funnier than others.

Your goal is to get ‘everyone’s’ attention, so you don’t want to alienate people in the class because they don’t ‘get you’.

Ask yourself one thing – why do I want to use humour in the class? Your answer should be, ‘to create a warm friendly atmosphere, and get the students attention and keep it.

Tell me what you think? And your experience.

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2 thoughts on “LAUGHTER – the sure-fired attention getter for the NEW TEACHER

  1. I think one of the reasons why my students love me so much is because I do laugh a lot, and I have a very silly sense of humor that’s a lot like theirs. (They’re five years old, soooooo…..) I laugh a lot at myself; when I drop the marker, when I bump into a chair, when I spill my coffee. I also make silly, ridiculous little exercises on the board; today, for example, we were learning the word “not,” so I went through some of the standard exercises (The dog is not big, the cat is not fat, yawn, yawn) and then I decided to get a little sillier, and started writing sentences like “The box can not run,” “The man is not red.” Silly little sentences, but to a five-year-old just the thought of a box running is somehow hilarious.

    I think knowing your students is key, but so is knowing yourself. I can get away with being a goofball because it’s what they respond to, but also because it’s very natural for me. (Have I ever mentioned that I get along WAY better with five-year-olds than I do with people my own age??) And I think that naturalness is the key. If your humor feels forced or put-on, “I’m making this joke so I can check off one more ticky-box on the long list of the How to Be a Good Teacher formula, then it just isn’t going to help much. That said, I do think that even people who think they don’t have a sense of humor can develop one. Learning to laugh at yourself is a good start. 🙂

    • Love this, I’m sure the ‘adult’ friends you do have find you hilarious! I have taught 5 year olds before, and know for a fact you certainly need to be able to laugh at yourself, because God knows it isn’t easy in there….hahaha… Yes and also agree that simply being yourself is a really great way to start getting funny…let’s face it – humans are a rather absurd creatures!

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