Comedy in class
Updated: Jul 18
Hahaha! The sounds of positivity and increase of energy in my classroom is like music to my ears. Humor is one of many possible tools in our teaching arsenal to connect with and engage our students. While it can be intimidating to look foolish or worry about how and when to use humor, when used effectively and non-threateningly, I believe it can be an incredible tool for teaching.
Laughter has many benefits and among them are improving relationships, decreasing anxiety and promoting group bonding. These benefits alone are enough to help consider using humor in class to help with student engagement in a friendly and non-threatening manner. It can be intimidating to use humor when it is not something that comes naturally. However with time and practice it can become second nature or just lend an occasional moment of relief from the monotony of pushing learning on students constantly.
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Part of comedy can be poor quality jokes or ‘groaners’ which cause people to roll their eyes and chuckle at how bad the joke is. These dad jokes of poor quality can also lend themselves to poking fun at the person telling the joke. Owning the less spectacular jokes and not taking yourself too seriously can really lend a teacher an air of confidence in themselves and inadvertently lend the teacher more authority and credibility since it appears you are willing to be the butt of a joke.
There are risks to using humor in class, that it could be poorly timed or accidentally offend someone. This reminds me of a moment several weeks ago when a student talked to me one-on-one and mentioned that a singular joke I had made in the heat of the moment had caught them off-guard and they didn’t enjoy it as expected despite their smiling and laughing. I was disappointed that I had upset them, but reminded myself that the best and safest jokes to use are those that make fun of you as the teacher or have no specific person such as jokes about subjects or puns are also fun.
Humor is part of my teaching method and I can’t just stop myself because it does come naturally to me, however I doubled-down on not making fun of a student again at any point or in any way even when they seem very comfortable to enjoy a joke with me. It did reassure me that the student felt comfortable to come to me and tell me they were not comfortable with the joke and while I was mildly abashed, it just reminds me that I had managed to make the student feel comfortable enough to give me that feedback and that was a net positive even if I had made a mistake. After all, we are all only human - none of us are perfect - teachers and mistakes are natural as long as we learn from them, just like our students.
Despite the small risks that come with comedy, I would encourage all teachers who are interested or considering using it to give it a try and see if you can add a little more laughter in your day and theirs. My belief is that as teachers we need every tool we have to be able to engage, support and help our students develop into the best people they can become and leave school with their sense of humor intact and maybe even improved!
For now, I will leave you with the following links to jokes I would recommend for class and a joke for your students:
Links to jokes I have made ready for classroom use:
What do you call an alligator in a vest?
Thanks for reading
Cheers and stay curious
Oliver - The Teaching Astrophysicist
(Note: This blog post was NOT generated by AI and is conceived, typed and uploaded by a real person.)