by Eric Conte, 1-2 Teacher
Humor is by far the best teaching tool I use on a daily basis. I couldn’t do my job properly without it. Even in the midst of a global pandemic, there is space for humor. Kids are magnificently adaptable and resilient, and they’re always great at reminding us not to take everything so seriously. Laughs are not hard to come by when you’re working with young kids. I believe that kids, and every person at one point in their lives, are naturally predisposed to laugh. The following is an incomplete list of where humor fits into the school day, and why it’s incredibly important.
Firstly, there are few things that unify a classroom like a good laugh together. Humor captures each student’s attention and allows everyone to share the present moment together. As a teacher, having everyone’s attention at the same time is something to celebrate. Creating a fun environment in a classroom should be every teacher’s goal. Learning should be fun and we should aim for kids to create good associations and relationships with school and all academic areas.
Everyone’s taste in humor is different, which says a lot about who they are. I believe if you can make jokes at a kid’s level, you are closer to seeing the world through their eyes. You have a better appreciation and understanding of how they are moving through the world, which in turn allows you to more accurately and fully address their needs. Creating and maintaining connections with students is what teaching is all about. For me, using humor is usually the fastest way to connect with a child. And when you can make a kid laugh, you have a lot of clout when it comes to the moments you’re asking a kid to challenge themselves. It’s a form of mutual respect between students and teachers when we can laugh together, but we also work hard together. It’s camaraderie at its finest.
I also believe that humor allows students to relax and make mistakes. Humor for everyone, adults included, allows us to put our guard down and take some pressure off of ourselves. After doing this, it’s easier to be a learner and take on the challenges that come our way. It also allows me, as the teacher, to show that I am as much of a student as they are, we are all constantly learning and growing together. I model that mistakes happen all the time, and when they do, take a moment to cut yourself some slack. Not every “whoops” is worth a huge reaction, sometimes it’s just worth a laugh—then we can learn from it and move on!
Oftentimes, I feel like I catch kids off guard when I joke around with them. Kids make jokes amongst themselves, but don’t necessarily expect it from adults. It’s a shame to think people lose their sense of humor as they grow up. We go from laughing and giggling to taking each step of our day with a deliberate and serious mindset. Where does our ability to laugh and reflect go as we age? Maybe it is not cultivated and encouraged along the way? Let’s laugh together, just as we do everything else together already, why not?