One of our teacher candidates was teaching in an elementary classroom for one of his field experiences and shared this story with me. Visualize with me this 6 foot 6 inches tall, 295 pound young SMSU college football player working with pintsize first graders. Those tiny children had to tilt their heads all the way back to look up at him. While standing by the desk of a first grade girl, Mr. Brown was assisting her with her work. She needed to ask for his help so she cranked her head way back and looked straight up at him.
She paused. She became a tad bit distracted by what she saw so instead of asking her question, in all seriousness, she whispered, “Mr. Brownie, you have boogers in your nose.”
Out of the mouths of babes…children say hilarious things that make us want to laugh out loud. So, please, by all means…go ahead. Laugh. Giggle. Snort if you must. Laugh. Laugh a lot every single day.
As educators, we are interacting with others all day long. We are with our colleagues, but most importantly, we are with our students. Be joyful! Be quick to share your enjoyment of life. Try hard to be thankful in all circumstances. By doing so, you will enhance the joy and laughter of those young people in your schools. What a powerful way to make this world a better place.
A retired teacher told a story about a day he had been in the hallway supervising students before they came into his room. He stopped to grab a drink at the water fountain on the way in. A student had put a piece of gum over the water spout, sending the spray directly onto the front of his pants. Yikes!
He had a choice to make about how to handle that. He dried himself off as best he could with paper towels in the restroom nearby, and then went into class. Rather than try to hide behind a desk/podium and ignore it, he immediately pointed it out to the class, noting “Some dirty bird put gum on the water fountain! And it got me good!” Laughter echoed throughout the classroom.
By making a joke out of it and addressing it right away, it cleared the air, and class went on as usual. Had he tried to hide it, it would likely have been a distraction for the entire class time.
The moral of that story…we get to choose our response to life’s experiences – yell, cry, or laugh. Find gratitude in your situations. Choose laughter…it is the best medicine.
Shawn was a brand new teacher hired a few months into the year because of a large 4th grade class. She held class in the library until a classroom was cleared out for her. Students were packed into the library like sardines, and their coats and backpacks had to hang on the back of their chairs while they waited for lockers. This did not deter Shawn’s ability to ‘bring it’ during her lessons.
The principal scheduled Shawn’s first observation with her and while he watched her do her magic, Shawn’s foot got caught on one of the student’s backpacks causing her to fall, face first, to the floor. Her students looked on in shock. When she stood up, she calmly commented, “Good thing I didn’t wear a dress today,” and went about teaching. Her students laughed, her principal laughed, and life went on.
I guarantee that you will have those embarrassing moments during your careers as educators. It is a-okay! It’s okay to laugh at ourselves in spite of ourselves. And, it’s okay to laugh with your students as often as you can. Laughter is contagious.
I remember one year, I had a student who made me laugh so hard I had a difficult time regaining my composure the rest of the day. Hopefully, you’ll find this funny. Maybe it’s one of those stories where ‘you had to be there.’
Here it goes: The class was discussing foods that were traditional in their families around the holiday season. The students would tell me about the food and where it originally came from. For example, one student asked if any of us had ever had lefsa. Several had and others had not. He told us he was Norwegian so I asked him where lefsa came from. He said Norway. Nice work.
A different student shared that her family makes ‘ole ballin’ which is a Dutch treat similar to a donut hole. I asked her where that came from and she said the Netherlands. Excellent!
Another fifth grader shared that his family makes baklava, which I had never heard of. I learned from this student that this is a sweet treat, and when I asked where it came from, he replied Lebanon. Wonderful!
Wade, who was sitting in the fifth row and the last desk, was bouncing up and down off of his chair, frantically waving his hand for a turn. I called on him to see what food was traditional in his family. He excitedly said, “Anise candy.” Because I love this candy, I was excited to learn where it came from. So I inquired,
“Oh yum…I love anise candy, Wade. Where does that come from?”
In all his fifth grade seriousness, he replied, “The bakery.” BAHAHAHA. 😂
I lost it. I busted out into laughter, tears and all, which caused the whole class to chuckle. Throughout the day, I would get the giggles because of that one little innocent comment, and when I did, those fifth graders laughed right along with me.
This last story comes from a preschool teacher whose name is Cat, who was a teacher candidate in many of my university courses. A few years ago, she was doing her student teaching in a 6th grade classroom. She had a habit of winking at people. It was one way for her to show others and her students she cared about them. Well, she found out that 6th graders have a different perspective of winking.
One day while she and her students were having a discussion, she smiled and winked at one of her 6th grade boys. Without missing a beat, this 6th grade boy blurted out in front of the whole class, “You want me, don’t you?” Cat did what we all should do…she snickered at his joke, then clearly stated that she wanted him to keep working hard.
When you begin your career in the best profession on earth, you will have many humorous moments with your students and those you work with. May I suggest you write these moments down then put them in a book? I’ll be the first to buy it because I love a hilarious, rib-tickling school story.
Children do say the silliest things so laugh a lot with each other. Enjoy their innocent sense of humor. Life is just so much better when you are filled with laughter and joy.
Stay Calm and Laugh Lots!
Profs Dr. Wendy. & Dr. V.
(This is an excerpt from the book POWERFUL Teaching co-authored by Dr. Wendy Schoolmeester, Dr. Sonya Vierstraete, Dr. Rhonda Bonnstetter, and Dr. Mary Risacher. The book is available for purchase at Kendall-Hunt Publishing, https://he.kendallhunt.com/product/powerful-teaching).