By Teachers, For Teachers
Class clowns are individuals who crave attention. Their sole task in class is to make everyone laugh, and they usually will go to any lengths to make that happen. Whether they aren’t getting enough attention at home or they just like the way it feels when they make people laugh, your goal as the teacher is to use teaching strategies to help them channel their high energy into something more productive and positive. Here are some effective teaching strategies to help deal with these types of unique personalities.
There is nothing wrong with a little in-class humor. In fact, humor can actually be an effective tool in the classroom. It can help to increase student engagement, calm a tense classroom, and even help to reach more students. These students with a clever sense of humor can actually be an asset to your classroom. Their quick wit and comical ways just need to be encouraged in an appropriate way. You can utilize the class clown by giving him an outlet to be seen and heard. Put them in charge of a group or have them read an article aloud instead of you reading it. You know they’ll capture the class’ attention with their charismatic ways. By using teaching strategies that let the “Class clown” provide humor in a productive way, you’re giving them an outlet that is positive verse trying to get attention by being disruptive.
If the class clown is being disruptive to the classroom, then you must talk to them about it privately. Sometimes the student may not even realize that they are being disruptive, so by talking with the student, you can tell them your expectations so they know where you stand. Try and find out what’s behind the behavior and see if you can get to the bottom of why they are needing so much negative attention. They may have something going on at home, and that’s why they are craving attention. Take the time to chat with the student, and remind them that there is a time and place for jokes -- and that’s not in the middle of a lesson.
This teaching strategy is only to be used in certain cases. Ignoring the problem can sometimes lead to more disruption, so it’s best to use this teaching strategy first before any other. For example, if the class clown is getting out of hand and being very disruptive, then walk over to them and place your hand on their shoulder and continue teaching. If they still keep going, then stare at them and continue to teach. This can be a powerful hint for them to realize they need to stop what they are doing. By staying silent, you are not giving into them and giving them the attention they crave. You are simply responding in silence.
Oftentimes, teachers tend to jump the gun when it comes to disciplining the classroom clown. They do this without even thinking, because they are used to speaking with the student for misbehavior. The problem with “Assuming” the student did something wrong is that it’s not always as it seems. Don’t sweat the small stuff, take the time to determine if it was a harmless joke or a major interruption. Not every funny comment needs a reprimand. By picking on every single thing the class clown does, you’re just feeding into her attention. Remember, they usually are attention-seekers, so you don’t want to feed into it.
Is your class clown particularly good at telling funny stories? If so, you can utilize this strength by allowing them to read the class a story. Does your class clown have great leadership skills? Then you can use this to your advantage by giving them a management role while in group work. A lot of the time, class clowns are great at commanding an audience, so by utilizing these strengths, you are giving them a positive outlet versus a negative one.
Sometimes all you can do is just laugh with them, and that’s OK. The class clown is labeled that name for a reason, because they are funny. If you find what they are saying to be comical, then laugh, but at your own discretion. If you laugh when they are interrupting your lesson, that can give them the wrong impression. But if you laugh after they have raised their hand to make a comment, then that is showing them that their comment was not only funny, but that they said it at an appropriate time. Sometimes your acceptance of their humor will deter them from trying to get negative attention.
There’s a comedian in every classroom -- it’s how you deal with it that makes all the difference. Taking the time to talk with them, giving them the right outlet, not sweating the small stuff, and responding with silence are all effective teaching strategies to stop the joker in his tracks.
Do you have any effective teaching strategies for dealing with the class clown? What are your favorite methods? Please share with us in the comment section below, we’d love to hear from you on this topic.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.