"Class Clowns"

Discussion in 'Secondary Education Archives' started by Ms.H, May 21, 2007.

  1. Ms.H

    Ms.H Companion

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    May 21, 2007

    How do you keep certain charismatic students from becoming too much the center of attention? As I come to the end of my first year, I realize that I can name a student or two in each of my classes who gets an improportionate amount of attention from me and from the class. They aren't misbehaving kids or academically needy kids-- they're the ones who are the unofficial "class clowns" and whose antics, while often harmless in themselves, end up making them the continual focus. The thing is, they make the class lively-- the class enjoys their involvement, be it reading or acting in a funny voice, asking unrelated but clever questions, or making me and the students laugh. I really like them all and thought I had good relationships with them, but I'm beginning to feel like the classes have become a performance venue for them! On the occasions where they've crossed the line and been asked to leave the room (or when they're absent), the class has had an empty, dull feeling. It's as if I've relied on them to make class interesting! Any tips?
     
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  3. trulyblssd

    trulyblssd Companion

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    May 21, 2007

    I understand you frustration. I have classes that do not have a class clown and they are much more pleasing to be in. I, honestly, don't like when students feel the need to make others laugh all the time and although it may be funny at times it can get unbearable.

    Some things that I have learned and would like to implement next year…
    • Nip it early…I don’t want to be in the position that I am in now in one of my classes (I’m glad it is only one and not five). I have students that seem to feed off of each other and disrupt the whole class in there and honestly, I down right hate teaching that class. It’s hard to say, but they make my life difficult. All of my other class are great, but the personality mixture in that one is crazy!
    • Put my foot down during the first week!
    • Put all my rules in the syllabus so that there are not questions later
    • Step, step, step…we are on a step system and I will not be afraid to use it.

    As for class clowns, don’t let them make your class interesting. Yes, it’s okay to be funny, but there is a time and a place. When you are teaching a lesson it’s not okay to blurt out unwarranted jokes. Yes, kids are fun and we have to let them be kids, but at the same time they have learn appropriate behavior and inappropriate behavior. Are they going to be able to crack jokes during a business meeting?
     
  4. english9teach

    english9teach Rookie

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    May 21, 2007

    BE YOUR OWN CLASS CLOWN!!! Don't count on them to be the lively part of the hour, be lively yourself. I have found that when I make jokes about a topic or read in a dialect, the kids remember it better! (Focusing on finals, I realize that some even remember things from the beginning of the year. :D ) It's OK to be funny as long as your on topic... and it's ok for the kids, too, but you have to draw the line.

    Start the year out letting them know that it's ok to have fun in class. *shocking* You want them to, but they have to understand the limitations as well.
     
  5. JCarchy

    JCarchy Rookie

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    May 21, 2007

    When you think about it, the clowns have been interacting with their peers for years--- you may be the only "new" person in their audience.

    So, as the new person, and the one with power, how did you react when these clowns first acted up? What I would do is pick an act or comment made by the clown and say, "Bobby, can I see you after class?" Then have a talk with him, saying that you enjoy his unique view of the world, but he needs to stay in control and adhere to the class rules like everyone else.

    As a reformed clown, I hated being asked to stay after to "talk" to the teacher about my behavior. You don't even need to be harsh--just asking the kid to say should do the trick.

    Anyway, it usually worked on me.

    jc
     
  6. trina

    trina Companion

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    May 21, 2007

    I had success this year with helping the clowns have discretion- learning when it is OK to take the stage and when it is not. I agree with you about missing their input. I have 1 student in 8th grade who is the unofficial leader of the class. He is 6'2" and is handsome, with a quick wit to match. He will always command attention no matter where he goes in life, so I made it my mission to teach him to "read" the room and know when he can speak up and when he can't. He had it pretty much down pat by the end of school.

    I would not trade his antics for the world. To squelch his natural charisma would have been criminal, but having him learn to use it appropriately- that was a true accomplishment. He gave me such joy this year, and he would have us all laughing so hard we were crying at times. We graduated his class about 3 hours ago, and I'm still emotional. I will really miss him.
     
  7. kabd54

    kabd54 Cohort

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    May 21, 2007

    I completely agree with trina. It could also be handled the way one of Jim Carrey's teachers did (and look what it did for him!!;) ):

    "Jim was a class clown doing impressions for his classmates. Most teachers would be unkind about Jim's act, but he developed a good student to teacher relationship with his teacher Mrs. Dervaitis. She allowed him to put a comedy act together at the end of the day as long as he behaved and did his work."
    http://www.jimcarreywebsite.com/jbio1.html

    :D
     
  8. Ms.H

    Ms.H Companion

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    May 23, 2007

    Thanks for the advice. Some of you said that humor is okay but that they need to learn how and when to use it appropriately. Has anyone come up with a good simple explanation of when it's okay and when it isn't? I'd like to say "as long as it doesn't distract/ take away from class," but I don't trust them to figure out when that is. Any ideas?
     
  9. koocat008

    koocat008 Companion

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    May 24, 2007

    I think the fine line is very sketchy between what is good and what is bad. I have many class clowns during my last two periods...and on good days we have a blast. But on bad days, we all come out of there looking like a tornado swept the room. I am close to your situation Ms. H. I think that is because i'm a first year teacher, and I am still trying to figure out if I want them to like me, or if I want to like them (because i've noticed both of those don't go hand in hand).

    Example: I have two best friend class clowns, and they are truly sweet boys (7th grade LA). Yet, sometimes they will cross the line by an inappropriate comment, or action, and I end up coming down hard on them. I think they start believing I am favoring them because they do make me laugh, but then I notice them taking advantage and I blow up. So basically i'm Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from day to day with these two. So my problem is also finding that hidden line, and going with it.
     

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