There’s magic in laughter. We instantly feel drawn to people who make us laugh. You can see the truth in that when you befriend your classmates in school or your colleagues at work or even when you meet your favorite comedians–when you meet them in real life, you feel like calling out their names in public because you already feel that sense of connection with them.
As teachers, we receive respect from our students primarily because of the implied authority in our job title. Figuratively speaking, we have that place in their heads simply because we’re their teachers. But our teaching could be even more impactful to our students. All we have to do is earn that special place in their hearts by having fun times with them while conducting our lessons. That’s when we can truly start making a positive difference in their lives.
Learning is fun in itself. But isn’t it true that learning can sometimes be boring just because the teacher isn’t fun? Do you remember your days in school when you hated your teachers for being so boring? Remember your teachers who were a lot like slave masters making you do one task after another without even showing appreciation for your efforts?
Here’s how to avoid being that kind of teacher:
Brain science says that our mind stores information in the long-term memory parts of our brain when it’s attached to strong emotions. In the same way that traumatic experiences stay longer in our memory, happy learning experiences also get embedded in our students’ minds as we evoke strong emotional responses from them.
Don’t get me wrong–I’m not asking you to be the class clown. I’m not even a natural joker myself.
I’m just simply encouraging you to have a healthy sense of humor. This means having the ability to perceive humor or appreciate a joke, even if it’s not that funny sometimes. You’ll even have to laugh at your own mistakes at times; this is a sign of maturity.
When your students see your humanity (and humility) and that you’re imperfect like the rest of them, they’ll also be able to better relate with you. With your visible example, they may realize for the first time that they shouldn’t be too hard on themselves when they’re committing grammar mistakes. After all, that’s part of learning and growing in their journey.
A Word of Caution
Here’s a caveat though: never laugh at your students’ mistakes unless you’ve already built a personal connection with them or they laughed at their own mistakes first. Some students might be very sensitive to this. You don’t want to suffer the repercussions of this risky scenario.
Being Strict While Having a Sense of Humor
Understandably, you have to establish your authority and some class rules from the very beginning. Hold them accountable for their rule infractions. Yes, you can be strict while having a healthy sense of humor!
You can intentionally initiate laughter by incorporating a funny video clip, comic strip, quote, or role play dialogue into a lesson. Students like having fun. Thus, you should make their time with you worthwhile by sharing lighter moments with them as much as possible.
Make them laugh harder by giving them some background about what they’re watching, listening to, or reading. Find humorous bits from those, then use them in your lesson discussions. I’m certain that your students will appreciate you even more when you exert that much effort.
Being intentional in building camaraderie with your students will surely go a long way because you’ll end up building a healthy team spirit with them. The students will more readily and easily comply with your lesson requirements and, therefore, learn more effectively–because they’ll do it not only out of obligation but also out of sheer delight. It all boils down to the way you treat them.