My 8th grade Tutorial class just left my classroom. Know what we accomplished today? Academically not much…but I think that was the lesson today. I had a whole lesson planned based on an article they had to read over the last few nights, on a topic we have talked about for weeks. What was the lesson? Right now it doesn’t matter.
So they came in, we did the usual start of class routine then were ready to settle into the discussion when one of them, J, just starts laughing. I couldn’t tell you why, but this student’s laughter is hysterical and infectious. He was just cracking up. The rest of us sort of giggle, but then settled back down. Next thing I know another student has told J a joke that has him in more hysterics. The rest of us just can’t help ourselves and all are in tears with laughter. A student compares J’s laughter to Elmo, and of course immediately a Google search is done for Elmo laughing, which funnily enough turns out to sound like J’s laughter which prompts more laughter. People are walking by, stopping in trying to figure out why we are all in hysterics.
Finally we settle in for class, and you know what, the lesson didn’t matter, couldn’t matter at that moment. It’s three months into school, they have just had the end of sports, a Student Council food drive and Thanksgiving luncheon to coordinate, tests and more tests, school applications etc…today was about laughter, but more over it was about letting them take a breath, let it go and just enjoying 38 minutes conversing, not about Privacy, the 4th Amendment and posting online, about basic stuff such as how are you doing overall, and what’s up for the weekend.
The lesson today was about taking a breath and laughing a little (or in this case a lot), for sometimes as teachers we push so hard to get the academics in, we forget to see our students and ourselves as those who could use a day of less rigor and more rapport. Rapport is so key to develop, for it is what we rely on when we need to push and when they struggle and we need to support them. Rapport builds trust and trust is so key to helping students and teachers find moments of success.
So take a cue from J, and find some laughter today. I know I needed it, and so did his classmates and they left feeling a little lighter to move ahead, which is sometimes just what is going to lead them to find a moment of success later on.