Through my years of teaching, I have often had students who prefer to talk than listen to my (riveting) lectures in class. Of course, eventually, I learned that talking to students was not as effective as talking with, but this is not the point of this post. This post is about humour.
One student, in particular, was quite a chatty young man in my class. He was by no means malicious, just testing the boundaries of the classroom. One day, in the middle of a discussion, while he was having a laugh with some other students at the back of the room, I turned to him, face blank and said “Daryl, Respect my authoritah” in my best Cartman impression.
The student lit up, laughed at my joke (a little in disbelief – likely because I, a teacher, referenced South Park), and then turned toward the lesson. I taught this student in 3 classes after this and never had another issue.
My point here is not to reference South Park, but that humour and relationships are the most important piece of a classroom. I am sure this student does not remember most of what I taught in that physics class, but he may remember the day I showed the importance of respect with a joke.
It may be tempting to think of education as a sterile place (with no touching rules being implemented, teachers “being careful” to avoid parents or students being triggered, etc)., but we are teaching people, not content.