When I first began teaching high school I had two students who sat near the front of the room and quietly laughed each day at the beginning of class. An “informer” told me  that they were making bets regarding how often I’d nervously straighten my tie as class began.

I could have admonished them for their laughter, but I actually thought this was very funny. So I straightened my tie about twenty times in a row at the start of the next class. After their initially stunned expressions, they figured out exactly what was going on, and the three of us all cracked up. They continued to tease me through the whole semester. Decades later, I still remember their names.

I take teaching very seriously. The work we do as educators is important. But I also wish so much of it wasn’t so humorless. And I frankly think that teachers and administrators who lack a sense of humor should find another profession. I realize that’s a fairly harsh and rigid position, but I strongly believe that teaching and leading in schools without a sense of humor is detrimental for both the educators and the students.

By a sense of humor, I don’t mean the ability to tell jokes or include humorous anecdotes in one’s lessons. That’s not a bad thing and makes for a more entertaining class (particularly if they’re funny!). But I know some great joke tellers who are also pretty humorless. What I mean by a sense of humor is an ability to see absurdity in the class, school meetings and in oneself, and an ability to laugh at it.   … Read More