Tuesday, February 21, 2023

The Magic of Collective Laughter

 “You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” --Robin Williams

Let’s face it, we all lose focus on days when unexpected professional or personal issues pop up.  For the occasional times when the LIGHTBULBS acronym doesn’t refocus me or light my fire when heading to class, I have a backup measure when I arrive at the classroom.

The power of humor: Icebreakers to start every class

I begin each session with a segment called “What’s New in the Law News?”  In the spirit of “less is truly more,” all you need is a headline to spark a collective imagination.  I print out the first page of articles and display the headlines on the doc cam with accompanying crazy photos:

Man being fired brings emotional support clown to meeting

Teen taking train selfie kicked in head by conductor

Woman fakes her own death to get out of bad online date

Man stabbed at haunted house by friend who thought knife was a prop

Rattlesnake, uranium, whiskey found at traffic stop

Cop pulls over driver for speeding with 8,000-pound potato

After I go through my items, I try to spur discussion by asking everyone:

“What did you find new in the law news?”

I usually get a mix of funny, twisted, and serious items, providing entertaining dialogue and a segue to our lesson.

              Many of you likely have an icebreaker or novel technique to start class.  If you do, take notice of whether it gets you laughing and excited to dive into whatever you are teaching.  If not, look for ways to tweak it.  Lean on the magic of collective laughter to help get through a challenging day.  In this regard, re-read Chapter 9: Help students stay engaged through exaggeration and humor.

To me, education at all levels is a two-way street.  You get to impart knowledge to, instill hope in, and foster dreams for mostly eager students.  In turn, they can elevate your mood and inspire your growth as an instructor and person. 

Excerpt: Classroom LIGHTBULBS for College Professors

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