82-Class Clown Management

Many teachers cringe when they hear “humor in the classroom” because it brings to mind the class clown–the scourge of serious learning. First of all, I want to note that not all class clowns are problematic. Some kids are just delightfully funny and have skills to use their humor without harm or disruption. However, there are class clowns that seem to be “the scourge” because teachers just do not know how to deal with them. In the past, many class clowns faced frightening consequences. (Back in the day, they probably took the brunt of the corporal punishment meted out at the principal’s office.) But regardless of the consequences, every school still had class clowns. It is not acceptable to violate the Geneva Convention; so let’s explore a better way to live with class clowns.

Teaching is a tough existence if you are at odds with your students. You can learn to welcome them, appreciate their humor, and keep them from disrupting or dismantling classroom plans or relationships. I’ll share some tips that I have learned from working at this challenge.

The most effective way to manage class clowns is to connect with them. Education would be a dull enterprise without their humor. Embrace that they exist, and try to get them on your side. 

So, how do you do it? As with other discipline challenges, you set expectations, anticipate problems, strive for consistency, follow through with consequences when needed, and constantly work at a relationship with the clown. The better you connect, the more of a joy and asset her or his humor will be to the class.

Distractions from class clowns generally fall into three categories:

  1. general disruptions
  2. sarcasm
  3. derisive statements directed at other students, or you

The first step is to identify and anticipate the behavior. Most of us handle issues better if we have time to think about proper responses. Sometimes you have to think on your feet, but even then, it’s helpful to know what could be coming.

Avoid pulling the disruptive students out in the hall for a private “Come to Jesus” or “I am going to set you straight” talk. Even more, avoid giving the talk in front of peers. Most pranksters have been through this drill many times. Usually, those “talks,” appeals, or threats have not worked. Any “getting into trouble” that is public just elevates their status as the premier class clown.  

Instead, your next step will be to build rapport with the class clown and hold him or her to pre-arranged expectations in class, during instruction. Your role as teacher, your skill at connecting, and your homage to the class expectations will be enhanced–in front of all students.

Finally, you will make contact with the class clown outside of class to work on a relationship of trust and care. This affirming follow-up communication deepens your connection.

In this episode, I’ll share ideas about how not only to manage a class clown…but to get them on your side! 

Episode Template

The Problem:

Class clowns disrupt learning.

The Solution:

Build a relationship with the class clowns

What you can do Tomorrow:

  • Make a list of your class clowns
  • Game plan on how you would respond disruptive, sarcastic, or derisive statements or actions by class clowns
  • Engineer how you can have a social interaction with a class clown tomorrow

Student/teacher relationships are essential to engagement. Win over your class clowns and your room will become a joyful and engaging place.

Listen to “82-Class Clown Mangagement” on Spreaker.





81-Make a Kid Feel Great…Give them a Verbal Praise Coupon…Starring Catherine Cook and Audrey Justice

Just the other day…I was cruising down the hallway at my school and I landed on the business end of 3 outstanding compliments in the span of about 5 minutes. These compliments were totally unsolicited and really hit the spot! I felt an adrenaline rush for the remainder of the day as a result. I’ll bet you’ve experienced an unexpected compliment, or two. Didn’t you feel like it was Christmas morning?

Unfortunately, many are reluctant to praise their fellow man. What a pity. Don’t just think, Wow…my buddy is looking really fit. Tell them! They probably need to hear it and it will inspire them to keep working out.

When it comes to students, teachers frequently compliment kids on their academic efforts, but how about expanding our repertoire? That’s what this episode is about. Two of my original sources…Freshmen Catherine Cook and Audrey Justice will explain the power of teachers paying kids compliments.

Catherine Cook and Audrey Justice

I’m going to promote a systematic, premeditated, and public way to do just that. The verbal praise coupon is a way to bond with your kids, make them feel great, and perhaps elevate them in the eyes of their peers. If you’re tired of awarding the same old extra credit, this episode is for you.

Episode Template

The Problem:

People are too stingy with compliments.

The Solution:

Distribute verbal praise coupons instead of extra credit.

What you can do Tomorrow:

  • Create some verbal praise coupons.
  • Designate some target students that you know will be receptive.

The verbal praise coupon is a great way to bond with your kids while making them feel great in the process.

Listen to “81-Make a Kid Feel Great…Give them a Verbal Praise Coupon…Starring Catherine Cook and Audrey Justice” on Spreaker.

80-The Powerful Sarcasm Lesson Plan

One fine day in my little education world…I witnessed the negative power of sarcasm. I was hanging with a colleague who became frustrated with a student’s lack of effort. The young man did not have his assignment. Instead of asking the kid…

  • What happened?
  • Were you unclear on instructions?
  • Tell me what’s up.
  • Let me help.

my teacher comrade responded to the news of the student’s lack of preparation with sarcasm, “Wow…that’s really going to prepare you to compete in the global economy!” This volley was well received by the rest of the class. There was much laughter and a few of the young guy’s classmates tossed in some verbal darts aimed at the youngster to support their teacher. The young man laughed too, although he blushed. I wondered if he was really okay with the barb.

This entire episode might seem innocent. I’ll argue however, that it was a poor relational move on the instructor’s part. The teacher absolutely elevated himself at the expense of his student. I don’t know if the kid was injured by the comment, but it’s conceivable that the sarcasm could have reinforced many of the insecurities the boy already had about himself. While his exterior was saying, “Good one Mr. X. You got me there!” Internally, he may have thought, Wow. I guess it’s true. Maybe, I am irresponsible. Maybe, I do have a bleak future. 

I certainly don’t know if these thoughts were deviling this kid, but why risk it? I’ll argue that you should purge sarcasm from your classroom. This may be a tall order because sarcasm can be a vice. At the time of consumption it feels real good, but the aftershocks can be unsavory. Let’s get rid of this tendency and your students can help in this process.

Episode Template:

Sarcasm can poison relationships and undermine student confidence.

The Solution:

Purge this vice from your classroom.

What you can do Tomorrow:

  • Discuss the origins of the word sarcasm.
  • Confess to your kids a time when you used sarcasm and it didn’t end well.
  • Have student role-play when they have been the victims of sarcasm.
  • Challenge kids to utilize sarcasm in an appropriate way, like the creation of an editorial cartoon.
  • Deputize your kids to police your use of sarcasm.

Sarcasm may seem harmless, but its impact can be devastating. Purge this tendency and engage your kids in the process.

Listen to “80-The Powerful Sarcasm Lesson Plan” on Spreaker.