Why You Shouldn’t Forget This Powerful Back-To-School Strategy

Smart Classroom Management: Why You Shouldn't Forget This Back-To-School StrategyThis can be a serious time for teachers.

You have so much to do, so much to get right.

Routines, procedures, rules, consequences, policies, expectations.

They all need to be taught in detail, modeled, and practiced.

Then reviewed again and again.

You have to establish who you are and what you’re about.

Your leadership presence, your reputation, your classroom culture and tone.

These things are important, no doubt. You can’t give short shrift to the foundation upon which a well-behaved class is built.

But you also can’t forget one of the most powerful strategies of all.

When I take over a new class, I too focus on the building blocks. I focus on the ins and outs, the how tos, and the nitty-gritty details.

I focus on laying it all out ahead of time so there are no secrets, surprises, or drama down the line. Again, this is important—critically so.

But it’s not my number one goal.

You see, for all that stuff to work as it should, to get your students to care enough to listen, to motivate them, intrinsically, to want to buy-in, they have to enjoy being there.

They have to look forward to coming to your class.

So my number one goal those first few days of school isn’t just to lay the groundwork. It’s to get them to love being in my class. Because once they do, everything is easier.

Behavior, motivation, listening, politeness, teamwork, achievement, performance . . .  It’s all made better, stronger, and more effective as a result. It also makes your job a lot more fun.

There is a common misconception, however, that this means you must plan exciting activities, that you have to have a variety of games and learning adventures to roll out every hour.

But it isn’t true.

Although there is nothing wrong with planning elaborate, high-energy lessons, and students do enjoy them, there is a better way.

It’s a way that creates the desire to listen, learn, and be part of your class but without devoting hours of preparation time.

It’s a way that draws students into your circle of influence, builds easy rapport, and increases your likability like few other strategies.

So what is it?

It’s humor.

Now, it’s important to point out that you don’t need any special talent or ability to use humor in your classroom.

You don’t have to be knee-slapping funny or amusing all the time—or even very often—and you don’t have to do anything you’re uncomfortable with or that doesn’t suit your personality.

You just have to be willing to share a laugh with your new class.

Humor is everywhere. School is a target-rich environment and kids are inherently funny. They love to laugh and appreciate any attempt to make them smile.

So tell a story about the time you locked yourself out of your house with just your underwear on (or robe).

Do your best, or worst, hip-hop-disco-moonwalk moves. Walk in a funny way. Laugh at yourself when you make a mistake. Seize the goofy moments that happen every day with good-natured zeal.

Embrace the natural wit and charisma that typically only your friends and family see. As long as it’s grade-level appropriate, you can’t fail.

Humor is the quickest way to build an influential relationship with your new class.

It makes your sky-high standards and expectations, which can be a shock to the system, more palatable. It puts your students at ease during what can be a stressful time for them.

But best of all, it’s a surefire shortcut to creating a classroom they all love being part of.

PS – I was interviewed this week on a marketing podcast about the business side of SCM. If you’re interested in listening, click here.

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14 Responses to Why You Shouldn’t Forget This Powerful Back-To-School Strategy

  1. Lynne August 26, 2017 at 7:46 am #

    This blog post speaks to my funny bone. And my heart. I have held this belief since I began teaching almost 25 years ago. Thanks for giving voice to it!

    • Michael Linsin August 27, 2017 at 10:07 am #

      It’s my pleasure, Lynne!

  2. Ann August 26, 2017 at 7:59 am #

    I love this entire web site. I agree with absolutely everything. For the first time in my 30 years of teaching SOMEONE is actually saying what ive been thinking. Thankyou.

    • Michael Linsin August 27, 2017 at 10:10 am #

      Glad to hear it, Ann!


  3. Mary August 26, 2017 at 10:40 am #

    Excellent ! What a great piece with timely advice. Thank you for reconfirming what I’ve tried to implement for years.

    • Michael Linsin August 27, 2017 at 10:15 am #

      You’re welcome, Mary. I know your students appreciate it.


  4. Bjudge August 26, 2017 at 11:35 am #

    I can’t get through my day without laughing at myself. When students see that we can laugh at our mistakes, they feel safe to make their own mistakes. I have to be funny or is bore myself silly.

  5. Toni August 26, 2017 at 3:05 pm #

    Thanks for the reminder to smile and laugh. Have you ever explained how you send students to time out? I have found lots of examples showing what to say when you give a reminder (thank you very much) but have missed the next step. I really need to practice those phrases. Thanks.

  6. Becky August 26, 2017 at 6:35 pm #

    I agree totally with your suggestion that humor is an essential ingredient to successful class management, however this year I have a class that can’t seem to manage it. Whenever you share a joke or funny situation they take it as an opportunity to call out, turn to someone and add to the joke, or even call out a smart Alec response. I then have to spend time to refocus their attention and this always takes time as there are 60 11 and 12 year olds in my class as I team teach in one big classroom. Do you have any suggestions for better managing humor?

    • Michael Linsin August 27, 2017 at 10:20 am #

      Hi Becky,

      What you describe can be a sign of several issues that have nothing to do with using humor. I’d have to speak to you personally to flesh these out. There is a cost involved, but we do offer personal coaching.


  7. Marlene Gay August 27, 2017 at 7:32 am #

    I naturally smile and laugh a lot. But I was always told, when I was a new teacher, to try and keep a tight ship in the classroom and not laugh until December. With experience however, I agree that laughter and fun has to be part of the classroom. I told my 9 year old grandson how in Finland they play all day in the classroom with games and computers, and no tests and no homework. Well, he wants to study in Fineh/land. Learning is supposed to be fun. Kids naturally love to learn. But kids hate school prison conditions. Not that different from Dickens’ Hard Times in the 19th century!

  8. Sra. Mock August 27, 2017 at 10:42 am #

    You have hit the nail on the head! I couldn’t have said it better myself. Connecting with your students is essential and giving them a sense of belonging through humor and our common human condition, is very effective.

  9. AmyJo Vazquez August 27, 2017 at 6:59 pm #

    Such a “now” word, so vitally important to share with teachers at this juncture. Humor. Taking ourselves just a little less serious. Let it be the grease that allows the wheels of my classroom to turn with ease…

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