I like to infuse humour into my classroom. What is your opinion on teachers and students joking around? — T., Utah

I, too, am a jokester and like to have fun with my students. I attribute a large part of this to my own teachers who were funny and made their classrooms enjoyable.

Never make jests directed at an individual. I went too far early in my career: a teary-eyed boy came up to me after class to tell me that I had hurt him by repeatedly referring to a past incident. The next class I made a public apology to him.

There is a line at which you must stop students and yourself. Insults or “roasting” should never be permitted, even in jest. Stop the telling any dirty jokes immediately. While almost all students know that racist jokes should never be told, I worry that sexism may be overlooked. Stop any teasing, even between close friends. An innocuous tease may be picked up by someone outside their circle and repeated.

Be aware that some students may encourage you to tell jokes to sidetrack you. It can be hard to resist, so be wary of this tactic. I resorted to Joke of the Week on Fridays: I had a list of science-related jokes that I would pick from for a quick laugh at the end of the week usually told just before dismissing the class. I enjoyed sending the students off for the weekend with a “groaner!”

Hope this helps!


Image by Stefan Schweihofer from Pixabay 

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