Why Laughter Makes Classroom Management More Effective

laughter and classroom management 2I hope you’re reading this.

I hope the title piqued your interest. If it did, I’m glad you’re here. The topic is a special one.

I hope I can do it justice.

Bringing laughter into the classroom is so close to my heart that it makes me apprehensive to write about.

I feel like I’m giving away a family secret. Or that I’m somehow betraying the trust of the hundreds of students I’ve had over the years, and the close bonds we’ve shared.

laughter and classroom management3You see…

Laughter is one of the ways I’ve turned disparate groups of students into my dream class.

I know it can do the same for you.

Laughter has the rare ability to soften hardened hearts, open shuttered minds, and endear students to one another. It is the key that allows a teacher to reach her hand out to the difficult, the unmotivated, the awkward, and the unhappy…

And have them reach back.

laughter and classroom management3Here are a few more reasons why you should bring more laughter into your classroom:

Your students will love you for it.

When you make an effort to add humor to your lessons, routines, and activities, you instantly become more likeable to your students–which causes them to want to be around you, to please you, and to get to know you better. This, in turn, gives you powerful leverage to influence their behavior.

It’s a common language.

Although it can take time for some students to come around, all students like to laugh. Laughter is the one thing guaranteed to build camaraderie and knock down social and emotional walls, binding students from different backgrounds together into one happy classroom.

It’s easy.

It takes little or no planning to bring more laughter to your classroom. All you need is a willingness to try. Your students will appreciate any effort to be funny. They’re primed to laugh. So be your silly self, tell a joke or two, and show your best–or worst–dance moves.

It builds togetherness.

I’m dubious of community circles—at least in the way they’re commonly used. Hashing out grievances can lead to resentment and more things to complain about. Sharing a laugh and having a good time together, however, soothes old wounds and alleviates hurt feelings better than anything else.

It motivates students to behave.

Humor can help you create a classroom your students love being part of. This, along with strict accountability, provides a strong motivator for students to behave. No student wants to wallow in time-out while their classmates are sharing a laugh with the teacher.

It eases tension.

Many classrooms buzz with tension. You can feel it as soon as you walk through the door. And before long, you’ll see it too: excitable, irritable, and misbehaving students. Laughter, however, can relax an uptight classroom—releasing tension, calming vibrating knees, and bringing joy to the room.

It encourages hard work.

When students are happy to be in your class, you can ask so much more of them. They appreciate a classroom they enjoy coming to every day, and they’ll want to repay you for it. It’s human nature. We reciprocate those we feel indebted to.

It reaches the hard to reach.

Humor has the power to help you make personal connections with students, particularly with those who are hardest to reach. When I look back on the most challenging students I’ve had over the years, I can often point to the use of humor as a major factor in helping me turn them around and guide them in the right direction.

The Straight Scoop

There is a common belief that if you use humor in your classroom, you’ll lose control of your students.

But here’s the thing.

If you already have poor classroom management, then yes, it’s true. Trying to be funny will backfire on you. Behavior will likely get worse.

But if you have solid classroom management skills, then bringing more laughter into your classroom will make you even more effective.

And that’s the straight scoop.

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9 Responses to Why Laughter Makes Classroom Management More Effective

  1. Jessica Balsley February 1, 2011 at 8:41 pm #

    Great Post! Today I had the kids in stitches as I was acting out a french painter in a french accent, while giving the very specific painting directions. It really helped to get their attention and also to lighten the mood. I have also found (as an art teacher with 500 kids) some groups handle the laughter piece better then others. Some can get right back to work after a funny moment and other have trouble calming down. I want to add more fun to my lessons. School just doesn’t seem fun anymore to so many kids. How can we make learning more enjoyable and in turn, make kids learn in new and exciting ways…??? … I think you have something here! Thanks for sharing.

    • Michael Linsin February 1, 2011 at 10:34 pm #

      Hi Jessica,

      I’ll bet your students love having you as their art teacher. Your French impression (I couldn’t resist) was a great idea. The more your students get used to you bringing humor and fun to your lessons, and the more clearly they understand where your boundaries are, the better they’ll be able to handle it.

      Michael

  2. Virginia Reardon July 25, 2011 at 2:28 pm #

    “If you already have poor classroom management, then yes, it’s true. Trying to be funny will backfire on you. Behavior will likely get worse.” Are you suggesting that since I am far from being exemplar classroom manager, I should avoid humor/laughter? Or could it be used towards my path of improvement?

    • Michael Linsin July 25, 2011 at 5:07 pm #

      Hi Virginia,

      Yes, if you’re struggling for simple control of your class, then it’s best to be cautious with your use of humor. It can only be a path to improvement if you’re also implementing the other strategies you learn on this website. Humor alone will cause a complete loss of control.

      Michael

  3. Allison August 26, 2013 at 7:47 pm #

    There are times during a lesson when I want to inject humor but I don’t want the kids to talk; laughing is appropriate of course–I just sometimes don’t want side comments that often arise from humorous things. Would I just need to make sure that I have modeled what I want, practiced, and then enforce? I want to train my kids with Voice Levels which change throughout the day (some speaking times and other no speaking). But I want to be able to use humor even on Voice Level 0 (no talking) like when I’m doing whole class instruction.

    • Michael Linsin August 27, 2013 at 8:17 am #

      Hi Allison,

      One doesn’t have to do with the other. In other words, laughter on its own shouldn’t change or create addendums to your rules, routines, voice levels, or anything else. If you want to allow talking, then allow it. If you don’t, then enforce it when it happens.

      Michael