10 Ways to Engage Students with Humor
Laugh as much as possible, always laugh. It’s the sweetest thing one can do for oneself and one’s fellow human beings.
~ Maya Angelou
Author Beth Runkle
When you were training to be an educator, you probably didn’t take a course in stand-up comedy, but incorporating humor into your classroom can be an effective teaching strategy for any age.
Why use humor?
Indulging your students in comedy can be an effective way to help pupils pay attention. An amusing comment can grab a student’s attention who might be having a hard time with attentiveness.
If they expect a chance for laughter might come during a lecture, students are likely to remain engaged. Joking can take the boredom out of the routine school day. Cleverness reduces stress and tension in the schoolroom, promoting creative understanding.
Laughter can also grant pleasure and appreciation for a positive experience. Students are more apt to remember their teachers and the information taught by them when laughter is part of the lesson.
Ten suggestions for incorporating comedy:
- If you aren’t naturally funny, google jokes or even buy a joke book. You could start each lecture with a joke of the day or jest at the mid-point of your lesson.
- Add at least one humorous item to assignments. Or use a funny answer to get a smile during an exam.
- Find comics from the internet and display one on a rotating basis.
- Create a bulletin board where pupils can post amusing quotes.
- Make one day a week the official “humor day,” allowing students to bring in clean jokes to share.
- Announce themed dress-up days, like silly hat or mismatched sock day, 80’s day, or backward clothing day.
- Ask students to create a fun caption for fun images you display.
- Insert pop culture into your day. Kids will be surprised and amused if you drop the lyrics of a favorite song or movie.
- Occasionally, allow your students to complete a classroom Mad Lib. You can incorporate some grammar review into the activity to lighten the mood.
- Finally, learn to laugh at yourself. When you make a mistake, bring it to their attention and giggle.
Please remember to avoid jokes at a student’s expense. Hurtful humor is never appropriate. Don’t allow inappropriate, political, or religious jokes either. This results in losing authority and credibility.
To Get You Started:
- Why did the student eat his homework? The teacher said it was a piece of cake.
- Why did the dog do so well in school? He was the teacher’s pet.
- Why did the echo get detention on the first day of school? It kept answering back.
- Why did the student steal a chair from his classroom? His teacher told him to take a seat.
- What’s so difficult about music class? You have to write down so many notes.
- What’s the blackboard’s favorite drink? Hot chalkolate.
More ideas for incorporating joy in your classroom can be found in our blog post titled, “Is Gratitude the Answer?”
Beth is experienced with transition and adjusting to change because she’s moved 14 times as her husband served in the military. Beth discovered the joy of writing when teaching her children to write as part of homeschooling. Her husband recently retired from the Air Force. Beth and her husband now serve as mentors for married couples at military bases in the western United States. She and her husband have two kids in college.