Wield Humor Like a Professional Comedian
Master teachers know that a little well-chosen humor in the classroom can enliven just about any lesson and can create a wonderful bond of joy between you and your students. Humor also helps kids stay alert and attentive because humor chases away sleepiness and boredom. But if you've never worked as a stand-up comic, where and how do you begin to wield humor like a professional comedian?
You can use humor by using the various time-tested techniques of professional comedians. But there's something you must remember, first: Maintain your dignity. That may sound a bit silly in a discussion about humor, but it's a crucial point to keep in mind. Because, although humor can be useful and fun, you're a teacher, not a comic, and there's a certain line you must never cross. Use your common sense — no wild pratfalls, no profane or bigoted humor, no obscene gestures, no dangerous stunts, no words or actions that are inappropriate for children. There are certain things you'd never want your own children to hear from a teacher, not even as a joke; therefore, make certain you never say those things to your students.
Also, adhere to the number-one rule of professional comedians: Never snicker and guffaw at your own jokes. You'll quickly find that most students don't respect teachers who laugh at their own jokes. You'll also find that kids are a tough crowd. Adults may frequently titter politely at lame jokes because it's the courteous thing to do, but kids will remain stone silent when confronted with those same duds. If your joke isn't funny, your students won't laugh; if it's funny, they'll laugh freely and heartily. If they laugh, you can smile and laugh a bit also; otherwise, just move on and note in your mental joke book never to use that particular gag again.
If you use humor properly, you can bond with your students in a unique, heartfelt way. Include humor whenever it's appropriate and useful to do so, and whenever your educational goals will be advanced. Your kids may thank you for it and you just might become an amusing and effective teacher, unique among your teaching colleagues.