If you’re a regular reader of this website, then you know that effective classroom management doesn’t have to be complicated.
You don’t need elaborate charts. You don’t need an incentive system. And you don’t need to beg, bribe, or threaten students to behave.
But what you do need is a classroom your students look forward to coming to every day. Along with an effective classroom management plan, this is where your power to influence behavior comes from.
One way to get your students excited about your classroom is to make it more fun.
Interactive lessons, activities, and learning games are great tools to stimulate learning and ratchet up enjoyment. I recommend them heartily. But they can be time-consuming and impractical beyond a few times a week.
For the minute-by-minute reality of a working classroom, the best way to have more fun is…well…to have more fun.
Does this mean you’ll have to risk losing control of your class for the sake of a good time? Does it mean your students will be wired and bouncing off the walls? Not in the least.
What follows is a definition of classroom fun most teachers have never have heard of. And here’s the surprise: it’s a definition held by your students.
Let’s get started.
Classroom Fun (From Your Students’ Perspective)
It’s an attitude.
Having a good time with your students is an attitude. It comes from a desire to enjoy your job, to build relationships with your students, and to make your classroom a special, unique experience. There is no formal planning involved and it should never become a burden to you. It’s as simple as a smile.
It’s a mood.
One of the ways you can tell if a teacher has good classroom management is if the students are happy. Good behavior and contentment go hand-in-hand. This is true for a number of reasons, but it underscores the importance of maintaining a pleasant mood in the classroom.
It’s a feeling.
Your students don’t have to be sweaty and crimson-faced to have a good time. You don’t have to make your classroom riotous and chaotic. And you don’t have to be knee-slapping funny. In the hearts of your students, the warm feelings of safety, of being comfortable around you and their classmates, and of being part of an upbeat classroom is their definition of fun.
It’s a connection.
The simple act of making personal, no-strings-attached connections with students, through shared smiles and sweet laughter, will bring contagious joy to your classroom. You don’t have to be a comedian or a prankster. Just be open to having a good time with your students, and the rest will take care of itself.
Despite how tough their lives can be, kids wake up ready to laugh. They’re built for it. And teaching presents so many silly, goofy, and absurdly funny situations that are just waiting to be noticed and taken advantage of. Keep your eyes and ears open so these wonderful moments don’t pass you by.
It’s in a story.
If you’ve read Dream Class, then you know how I feel about storytelling. Nothing I’ve ever done as a teacher has gotten more response from students or generated more fun, more mystery, more excitement, and more behavior-influencing rapport than telling a story.
It’s a choice.
You can’t have fun with your students if you don’t like them. Seeing the best in your students, enjoying who they are as people, and appreciating their sense of humor and unique personalities is a choice you make. Sharing a laugh or smile, particularly with difficult students, is so powerful. But it can’t happen if you dislike them or hold a grudge against them.
Students who are happy to be in your class, who like you, and who appreciate the organized, efficient, and fun classroom you’ve created, will jump through fire to pay you back. This law of reciprocation is a natural part of the human psyche. It’s powerful, behavior-changing stuff that few teachers know about or take advantage of.
It Means So Much
When you bring more student-defined fun into your classroom, your relationship with your students will grow closer, more trusting, and more influential. Your classroom management plan will have more leverage. Your students will appreciate you, want to please you, and desire to get to know you better.
All the things you’re working so hard to achieve with your students will improve as you get better at creating an environment your students love being part of.
Having an attitude of fun amidst the hard work you ask of your students is a simple little thing. But it means so much—both to your students and to your hope of creating the class you really want.
Thanks for reading.
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