This 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?
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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