Well I started writing this post the other day after a wonderful day of teaching a group of funny kids… and then I read this letter from a Sandy Hook parent that has been circulating around. This letter made me think about what my role really is as a teacher. I know that creating a safe enough space for students to grow, share and learn is my main role but what about laughter? Laughing with one another can cure us and lift our spirits so isn’t it an important part of a strong, healthy community? I think a community of people that have learned how to laugh with one another can be one of the biggest agents of change in our world.
One of the main reasons I love teaching middle school is the amount of times I get to laugh in a day! The students in middle school are hilarious with their ability to have adult conversations but also remain uninhibited (mostly) and silly and playful. Honestly, they can get me laughing harder than most people in my life. So how do we return the favour to our students? How do we get the class laughing together in a caring, supportive, fun way? Now, despite the fact that I like to think I’m hilarious, I’m really no comedian – and I don’t think you have to be!
All of our students are coming from a variety of backgrounds and home situations, and when they come into my classroom I want them to know they are coming into a space where they are welcomed and enjoyed! There are always times for serious conversations, just as their are always times for laughter. You know those moments where you are caught off guard by a joke from a student and you laugh out loud? (As long as the joke was appropriate…) Don’t stop yourself – laugh out loud with your students! What better way to show them positivity then to join in with them and laugh? You don’t have to be a comedian, you just have to let laughter into your classroom. I think children need to see more adults who have fun with their lives and their jobs.
Here are some ways to incorporate laughter into your classroom:
- Laughter Yoga (I haven’t tried this year but I want to!)
- Mad Libs (teaching parts of speech)
- Joke Books (reading, public speaking, or just for fun)
- Comic Strips (book report or project)
- Dramatic Readings (reading/public speaking – Robert Munsch?)
- The “Ha! Ha!” Game (my personal favourite with the right group of kids)
- Improv activities (most can be incorporated into all curriculum)
- Have students write their own nonsense words/poems (start with Jabberwocky)
- Drama games like Bus Stop or Hitchhiker (Brain breaks!)
- Be overly expressive, dramatic or use voices when you are reading and giving instructions (not all the time of course but just when you’re feeling a bit silly and to get kids laughing)
It has been proven time and time again that people are more inclined to take action for people and places when they have a sense of love and connection to the person/place. Positivity can change the world if we just allow more of it into our lives. So despite all the politics and strife in our teaching world (or maybe because of?), we need to laugh more! Let’s show our students that we don’t let people suck our fun circuits dry and remember Ana Grace and all the children who have had tragedy in their lives. Let’s teach with courage, faith and love and let’s be the positive change in our schools and communities!