A Time and a Place

This morning I participated in a twitter chat, as I often do on a Saturday morning – it’s worth getting up at 7:30 am for.  Today’s #satchat topic was humor in the classroom, and I must say, I was looking forward to it.  Because who doesn’t like to laugh?  Having fun and being funny motivates, and isn’t that what we want for our students?  And it was a hot topic – I could not keep up with the twitter feed.  There are a lot of teachers out there who value levity in the classroom, and that’s something to celebrate.

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One of the questions posed asked if humor in the classroom can be divisive.  I tweeted that it might not be divisive. but it can take a negative turn, when the silliness gets the better of the students and they have a hard time refocusing.

Uh oh. Buzzkill.

I was then the recipient of a few tweets about how silliness in the classroom is a good thing (agreed), and that we need more of it (agreed), and that silliness is awesome (agreed).   See how I agreed?!  

There is no one who knows me who would say I don’t love fun in the classroom.  NO ONE.  I make it my personal mission each and every day to inject humor and enjoyment in the classroom, through the books I read, the songs we sing, the games we play and the words I say.  I respond honestly and enthusiastically to the humor of my students.  BUT….there are times when we all get carried away.  And it’s my job to rein them back in.  Party pooper?  No, just a teacher.

Case in point.  We’ve been reading several of Patricia Polacco’s books (talk about awesome!) in class, and I’ve been pointing out the strong and powerful messages they contain.  If you’re not familiar with “Thank You, Mr. Falker” or “Mr. Lincoln’s Way,” you don’t know what you’re missing.  At one point, during a particularly serious moment, someone decided to focus on what he/she interpreted as a silly illustration.  Of course, being second graders, the laughter spread….and took them away from the moment in the book.   

No.  I pulled a Liz Lemon and shut. it. down.  Kindly, respectfully, but firmly.  I took a moment to point out that this was not the time, that the mood and the message were too important, that the time for laughing might be later, but not now.  

They got it.  I amped up the drama of the read aloud and had them eating out of the palm of my hand.  The tears running down my cheeks punctuated the seriousness.  And they were as real as could be.  I challenge you to read “Mr. Falker” and react in any other way.

The point of this post?  I love laughter, but it has its time and place.  Fortunately, in my room, there are tons of times and places for it.  Stop by any time if you want to see.  But I know, as a teacher and as a person, that it’s important that I model for my students when it’s appropriate. 

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DISCLAIMER:  There are many light and funny moments in Patricia Polacco’s books.  And I acknowledge and enjoy them all!

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