Yesterday my small eighth grade Geometry class was talking about different teacher styles. They commented that it annoys them when a teacher tries to be funny and isn’t. I said something like, “Well, we all know how great it is when teachers are really funny, so teachers want to be funny, and sometimes people even tell us or ask us to be funny. I wish I were funny, but I’m just not. I figure it’s worse to try to fake it, so you’ll just have to put up with me not being funny. Sorry about that!”
One student said, “Well, you don’t tell a lot of jokes, but you laugh at OUR jokes. And some days that just feels really good, having someone laugh at your jokes.”
It’s true, I do laugh at their jokes. I think they are hilarious. And it dawned on me that that might be even better than having them laugh at my jokes. If you are a middle schooler, adults so often react to you with exasperation. Some days it’s probably refreshing to have an adult clearly enjoying your company. Laughing at their jokes is not the most serious and supportive kind of listening, but it’s still listening.
So often I’ve felt envious of teachers who are the funniest person in the room. My student made me feel good about being the audience instead.
* If you have little kids, you should check out the book The Funny Thing by Wanda Gag. It’s the best.