Teaching and preparing every student for a bright career is quite serious business. But a teacher doesn’t have to behave seriously or humorless to fulfill his or her job. In fact, humor allows them to enhance their ability to connect with students in college.

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Including funny stories when teaching, telling jokes and sharing light moments in a classroom keeps students interested throughout the class. Many teachers also utilize relevant personal experiences while teaching.

But there is another side of the story. Humor is effective in a college classroom only if teachers use them properly. Wrong methods of humor can lead to completely opposite and unwanted results.


It is important for every teacher to understand the pros and cons of classroom humor before utilizing it.

The Pros of using Humor in a College Classroom

A teacher with a great sense of humor can turn a class into a comfortable experience of each and every student. With that, come multiple pros:

1. Enhances learning ability

Serious learning in a classroom can make many students feel stressed after a while. To cope with the stress, their minds start distracting them to other things. So, a student might look straight at a teacher but can be thinking about a video game he played last night.

The distraction is a way of our mind to save us from stressful situations. But when learning, it impacts our attention.

A teacher can increase students’ attention span without stressing them out. Humor is key here. Utilizing humor that engages every student is impactful in terms of gaining their attention throughout the class.

2. Improves emotional and social positivity

A classroom learning is a group learning experience. Students from different backgrounds and cultures meet together to learn. The differences in culture can create a sense separation among students. But there is one thing that can bring all of them together. Humor! So, if a teacher can use his or her humorous nature to bring a class together, it allows students to feel comfortable. They can feel positive emotionally and socially in a classroom, which lightens the mood and enhances the learning experience.

3. Increases Class Attendance

In college, if students think your class is “boring”, they tend to avoid all your classes. This is another important reason why teachers need to try different ways to engage students. Humor is the easiest and most effective way of making classes interesting for students.

Also Read: How To Turn Around Annoying Behavior Of Students In Classroom

You might want to talk about a complex formula of math or go deep into the explanation of poetry. But remember, you have to make it interesting first. Humor is like a chariot you use to collectively take your class on an interesting journey of learning.

4. Improves Test Performance

A humorous conversation is interesting and entertaining. And our mind tends to retain every entertaining and interesting conversation.

Using humor in the classroom helps students retain the learned topics. And that allows students to perform better on tests.

When they retain the knowledge, their mind shifts the interest to the learning process more. So, students tend to prepare more effectively for their tests. Gradually, it increases the performance and grades of every student.

5. Reduces the fear of a subject

For many college students, one or more subjects can seem too overwhelming. Some fear mathematics, some find physics difficult or any other subject. This fear of a subject limits student’s ability to grow his or her understanding of that subject. So, even if a student is performing great in all other subjects, one subject keeps ruining the overall grades.

For such students, teachers need a humorous way of teaching to make classrooms lighter and easy to understand. Jokes and real-life funny examples help in reducing the complexity of learning material. Hence, students can eventually decrease their sense of fear and focus on pushing hard to learn effectively.

The cons of using humor in a college classroom

As mentioned before, there is also a wrong way of using humor in the classroom. If you fail at your attempts of using humor, it can create confusions and difficulties in a classroom as well.

1. Distracting Students From The Point

Humor in a classroom is not like a chit-chat experience with your friends at a party. Every humorous moment should align somehow with what you want to convey to students. If you mess up your joke or start talking about something which has nothing to do with what you’re teaching, it creates a distraction.

A humorous story or a joke can easily grab the attention of students. So, if it is distracting, students forget about the topic itself and start thinking about that joke or a story only. When you try to come back to the topic again, the minds of students shut down from it.

2. Not Figuring Out the Subject Understanding of Students

A joke won’t work if students have no clue what you are talking about. For a Ph.D. holder physicist, a joke about the galaxies can be hilarious, but for students, it might not make any sense.

Making a joke and using humor is about creating a collective understanding in the whole classroom. But many teachers get blinded by their own level of knowledge. They forget about the gap of subject understanding and make jokes that don’t seem funny to students.

In that case, students don’t connect with the topic. Moreover, they start feeling inferior and overwhelmed by the subject. So, you have to choose your intellectual jokes wisely to avoid such difficulties.

3. Using Sarcastic, Offensive or Rude Humor

Effective humor in a classroom offers a collective comfort level to all students. But if a teacher takes the wrong road and becomes sarcastic, offensive or rude, humor stops working.

Comparing one student with another, telling violent experiences, making racist comments and cursing are some of many wrong approaches of using humor in the classroom.

Also Read: 13 Ways To Deal With Bullies In Classroom?

For many teachers, just adding curse words is enough to make people laugh. But that’s not the right way of connecting with students. Similarly, a teacher can’t make sexist jokes as well.

All these wrong ways of using humor result in the separation between students and teachers. Majority of students try to stay away from such teachers.

4. Creating Awkward Situations By Overdoing It

Rehearsing a joke or a story doesn’t work at all. Humor has to come naturally to you. If you try too hard, it becomes awkward for students and they try to stay as far away as possible from your classes.

Using modern “lingos” or “slangs”, even if it’s not a part of your personality, can’t work. At the same time, making stupid statements to seem “cool” won’t provide any educational value as well. On the contrary, it would make you look lame in front of the students.

Remember that students want to admire you for your knowledge and your ability to convey that knowledge in a humorous manner.

5. Targeting Particular Students to make jokes

Targeting students to create humor is a negative way of using humor. Other students spend more time thinking about how that particular student is feeling instead of learning. Some students might laugh, but they keep on thinking negatively about the teacher at the same time.

Similarly, many teachers make fun of students who don’t score well in their tests. Low scores are a story of every student’s life, every once in a while. Every student has his or her own nightmare of a low score in tests. So, no one ever enjoys if a teacher makes fun of even a particular student about his or her scores.

What should a Teacher do to use Humor?!

To use humor effectively, a teacher has to understand all students. At the same time, a teacher should cultivate a natural, classroom-friendly humorous personality.

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When making a joke, keep evaluating how each and every student is reacting to that. See if they are laughing, or seem confused, angry or frustrated. These signs are important to change the topic before it goes too far.

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So, now you have a comprehensive idea of how humor can benefit or ruin the atmosphere in your classroom. It is all about using the right kind of humor in the right manner.

When you speak of a traditional classroom, the first image that crosses your mind is the sight of a tutor lecturing to a class.

What about the students? They simply sit without participating in the classroom discussions. This non-participation of students does a great deal of harm, marring the basic premise of learning.

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In an attempt to encourage students to actively engage themselves with everything that happens in class, a model of instruction called the student-centered classroom is in place.

This is a concept that shifts the focus away from teachers and revolves around students, encouraging them to partake in classroom discussions. All in an attempt to allow students apply their minds, here are 10 intelligent ways to build a student-centered classroom.

  1. Bestow Students with the Freedom of Choice

A student-centered classroom is one which allows the freedom of choice to students.  The teacher can allow them to use their discretion about what projects they wish to work on. For that matter, you can also permit them to choose their bench and the company of their classmates. This sense of freedom will spark creativity in students, alongside strengthening their decision-making skill.

When students enjoy autonomy in everything they do, they will feel less restricted, constantly giving their best to academics or extra-curricular activities.  When students apply their knowledge, they will create an environment which promises individual and collaborative learning, while working on a group project.

  1. Unleash the Power of Student Reflection while Becoming Their Mentors and Coaches

When students are encouraged to reflect upon what they have been learning, they will slow down their pace and introspect their strengths and weaknesses. Teachers can help them analyze their worthiness when they will try to process all that they have learnt in their inquisitive brains. This will help them tread the path of individual and collective growth.

Teachers are the pivots of a student-centered classroom. They are required to implement a learning structure that urges the students to actively participate in classroom activities.  Every teacher needs to transform into a mentor delivering deep insights about how learning should progress. Posing questions, having discussions etc will help you comprehend the level of understanding each student has.

This will ultimately lead them to a holistic learning process revolving around their innate intelligence.

  1. The Inclusion of Academic Workshops and Educational Gadgets

A student-centered classroom works best through workshops along with plenty of professional development opportunities. Teachers should work hard by playing the role of mentors for specific subjects. You should create a concrete lesson plan supported by a host of teaching techniques that will benefit your students. Workshops which focus on different subjects will help students strengthen their fundamentals. In order to facilitate these mechanisms, teachers can sign up for training sessions about the use of teaching gadgets like iPads that will create an environment of personalized learning.

  1. Demonstrate The Strength of Open-Ended Questioning Techniques

Posing open ended questions allows students to formulate their own answers without sticking to a particular response from a series of answers. Since open-ended questions have no pre-determined limitations or boundaries, students can hone their creative thinking abilities while sharpening their problem-solving skills. You will also create an environment of clear intra-class communication which develops a sense of reassurance that your class welcomes every student’s ideas and thoughts.

  1. The Formulation of Rules

Autonomy is not about allowing students to do what they like. It is also about following certain non-negotiable rules. Given a scenario when all your students are working towards a group project, you can allow one student to start and lead the discussion. Others will step in through their comments. These comments will again be called for discussion so that you can keep a check on unruly and distractive students. through these boundaries students can make the most of collaborative learning and deliver the project on hand.

  1. Flip The Assessment Grades With Comments

Treading away from the traditional educational pattern, grades no longer come in as a measure of a student’s success. On the flip side, teachers should change the feedback process which collates all the comments and discussions of students with regard to submission of their assignments. The simple alphabetical grades should be done away with. A conscious effort to uncover the strengths and weaknesses of students through constructive feedback is required.

Academic quizzes and assessments as learning activities can be conducted frequently. This will come handy while collating performance metrics of every student.

  1. Unveil The Attraction of Student Collaboration

Teachers working towards a student-centered classroom should encourage students to constantly engage themselves in group learning activities. Students should be provided with umpteen opportunities to partake in group discussions. Such activities will not only introduce your students to varying opinions of their classmates, they will also be thrilled to assimilate different views coming from their mates. These activities set the stage for a healthy competition amongst your students.

  1. The Union of Family and School

For the success of a student-centered classroom, teachers would need the endearing support of the families of their wards. When you are striving towards a student-driven learning pattern, you should work hard in the direction of motivating them alongside making them accountable for all their actions.

These two traits of accountability and motivation should be honed from the home-front as well. Notwithstanding the fact that a school is indeed the second home of every student, it is only when you rope in the parents of your wards that you will derive synergistic benefits of well-informed families teaming with classrooms. For this, it is the need of the hour to educate parents about the principles behind a student-centered classroom so as to reap the benefits of enhanced student participation.

  1. Chalk Out Individual Assignments

It takes all sorts of students to make up a class. Contrary to the belief that one size fits all, a classroom has students with different IQ levels. They also demonstrate different speeds at which they grasp the classroom learnings. In an attempt to handhold these different students, you can chalk out individual assignments that match varying learning styles. With such assignments in place, students with diverse learning patterns can benefit from an in-depth understanding of the subject.

  1. Introduce Students To Multiple Learning Avenues

Given the rate at which technology is penetrating into every walk of human life, millennials of today have lots to explore through the internet. You can encourage them to register for online courses which are in tandem with their core interests. Such learning avenues can encourage a motivated student to look at education from a completely different perspective.

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Alongside practicing the model of self-learning, students can become a part of experiential learning that is offered by technology  like AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality). All these not only allow students to apply their knowledge but also aid in a significant paradigm shift in the learning methods employed in classrooms. Such technological interventions can become catalysts to a student-centered classroom.

Key Takeaways

After understanding the importance of student-centered classrooms, it goes without saying that this form of learning can lead to a much-needed and exciting educational transition.

All you need to do is to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of your students. After understanding these attributes closely, you can carve a student-centered classroom.