Tag Archives: college students

The Nutty Professor: Pedagogy of Classroom Humor

by Janet Mizrahi, The Guffey Team

The longer I teach, the more I am thankful for my sense of humor. Not only do I need it to get through teaching ten courses each year—I have found my students need a laugh sometimes, too. I’m no Amy Schumer or Joan Rivers, but I do crack wise in my classroom upon occasion, and I have come to believe that doing so is a crucial aspect of my pedagogy.

I’m not alone in that assessment. Much research has reported the benefits of using humor in the classroom. It is well documented, for example, that humans like to laugh—doing so alleviates boredom, surprises us, and creates an enjoyable experience, all of which can help engender a positive learning atmosphere. Perhaps even more important is that humor disables the threat response. The student/professor relationship can be intimidating, as can new subject matter. By being funny at times, a professor can be seen as less of a threat, allowing students to connect with both the subject matter and the deliverer of that information.

In addition, humor can enhance boring or dreaded subjects. None of us wants to admit that our subject inspires snoozing or fear, but learning can be daunting, and humor can help defuse that sentiment. Likewise, humor helps capture student interest; a funny story may encourage students to connect with subject matter. Finally, humor increases students’ attention. A witty remark mid-lecture can reignite most students’ wandering attention and even make them want to retell a joke. Such retelling is the key to remembering, a goal we all want to achieve with our students.

Integrating humor into your classroom

Most of us who teach college students realize that much of what we do in the classroom is a performance, and that the manner in which we deliver information is just as important as that information itself. Humor can be part of that performance. However, experts advise starting early in the semester; you need to prime your students to expect humor so they know it’s okay to laugh. In fact, tell them so!

While you want to always be genuine, use any trick you think will work. Can you do a great English or Australian accent? Use it! Try exaggerating where appropriate (“I will give the first person to answer the next question an A in the class… kidding! Or am I?”) If a prepared or spontaneous joke doesn’t elicit a reaction, recover with a quick reaction: “Hey, that was supposed to be funny—you guys are a tough audience!” I’ve heard of professors using props such as balloons with content written on them, referring to iconic music or actors known to the younger generation, and deliberately flubbing up technical devices, all to get a laugh.

If none of those suggestions appeal to you, below are some alternate ways to include humor in your teaching style.

  • Develop funny stories for specific topics. Just like no standup comic would perform cold, prepare your bits ahead of time. Alter them after you learn what works and what doesn’t.
  • Employ self-deprecating humor in small doses. Many comedians are the brunt of their own jokes. Personally, I find this style of humor quite useful. For example, when I teach résumé writing, I use my own [somewhat ancient] college history as an example. When I write the dates I received my degrees, I cover my mouth and mumble, “Nineteen blah-blah-blah.” The students always laugh.
  • Make your mistakes funny. Acknowledging your own errors can help humanize you and therefore create a bond between you and the class.
  • Use humor in bits and pieces. You don’t want to appear to be clownish or unprofessional, so be judicious with the timing and frequency of your humor.

Of course, there are some taboos to be aware of when you use humor.

  • Never, never, never make a student the butt of a joke. Once the students have heard a classmate ridiculed, every one of them will all be wary of becoming the next victim, activating the threat response and reducing your ability to connect with your audience.
  • Avoid “insult comedy” for the same reason. Offensive remarks that refer to age, ethnicity, physical appearance, religion, sexual orientation, or violence should be off the table.
  • Steer clear of alcohol and drugs as a topic. They both are landmines that can lead to unintended consequences.

One final piece of advice: Realize that your humor will not work every time. Not every funny comment will garner a laugh, and not every class can be won over. However, if you’re at all like me, you’ll have more fun if you are enjoying yourself on the stage that is our classroom… and hopefully, so will your students!


Do you use humor in your classroom? Tell us about it!

Tips for Networking Novices… Recipe for Successful Teams… Recruiters’ Thumbs Ups (and Downs!) on LinkedIn Profiles

Tips for Networking Novices

Launching a career requires understanding how to network. The pointers below can help those new to the important career-building strategy.

  1. Be polite, humble, and professional. Listen rather than trying to impress more senior staff. Always thank people you meet when networking. To be taken seriously, adopt a professional persona and observe business etiquette.
  2. Work at the process. Networking is more than checking social media feeds. Get out into the world and make face-to-face connections. It takes time and energy, but it’s worth the investment.
  3. Ask questions. Network to learn by asking questions and paying attention to the answers. People will want to help you if you show your interest by listening closely to advice and demonstrating that you want to learn and grow.
  4. Act natural. Be yourself—but be your best If you are nervous and uncomfortable, you’ll make others around you feel awkward.
  5. Be patient. It takes time to build a professional network—and even more time for those connections to generate results.

From payscale.com

Recipe for Successful Teams

  • Take a large dollop of tolerance for others’ perspectives
  • Add plenty of differing personality types
  • Mix well
  • Watch team excel

The need for smooth collaboration in the workplace is well documented, but recent data from Google parent Alphabet Inc. seems to have homed in on a recipe for success.

One of the ingredients identified was placing people motivated by the same values together, since teams with members who have differing goals may end up pulling the group in opposite directions.

Another characteristic for successful teams was engagement. This refers to all team members participating, i.e. everyone speaks, everyone listens, and everyone does so in equal parts. It also means that each team member speaks to every other team member.

Diversity was another important quality for successful teams. Combining introverts with extroverts and organizers with improvisers is a good way to make the best use of individual talents. Likewise, using a respectful tone of voice allows a free flow of divergent ideas.

Finally, winning teams are goal driven—each team member sets individual goals, and all individual goals point toward completion of the overall objective for the project.

From The Wall Street Journal

Recruiters’ Thumbs Ups (and Downs!) on LinkedIn Profiles

A LinkedIn profile has become as important as a résumé. To make it entice rather than repel recruiters, follow these tips.

Complete the entire profile. Include work experience, education, and accomplishments, making sure to keep the information updated. Anything less leaves a bad impression, according an expert from the recruitment firm Korn Ferry.

Use a professional photo. Selfies don’t cut it and make your profile appear as if you didn’t care enough to make yourself look professional. Evaluate the photo choice using Photofeeler or Snappr.

Be specific. Sync dates of employment, job titles, and other facts with your résumé to demonstrate truthfulness and your ability to be detail oriented.

Write a professional headline. Name your industry and job in your headline so it will appear with your name if a recruiter performs a Google search on you.

From fastcompany.com

 

10 Interview Blunders to Avoid

Hiring managers advise job seekers to avoid the following slip-ups when interviewing.

  1. Treating receptionist or other lower-level staff poorly. Consider the moments before meeting with the hiring staff as a pre-interview. Many hiring managers consult with staff about your behavior before and after the interview.
  1. Arriving poorly groomed. Make sure you look squeaky clean from head to toe. Go easy on the perfume and neatly manicure your nails.shutterstock_12264709_March2016
  1. Choosing inappropriate attire. Dress for success. Knowing what to wear shows you understand workplace expectations.
  1. Delivering long, rambling answers. Employers want to see that you are articulate. Practice answers before an interview so you can give concise responses.
  1. Lacking authenticity. While everyone understands an interviewee needs to be upbeat, hiring managers want to see the real you. Do not be slick or sound hackneyed.
  1. Underselling accomplishments. First-time job seekers often undersell their strength as a candidate. Be ready to talk about how you will make a contribution to the organization.
  1. Failing to give credit to collaborators. Show the hiring manager how you contributed to a team project by explaining your role without taking too much credit from other team members.
  1. Demonstrating poor understanding of the organization. Once you’ve landed an interview, the organization will expect you to have performed research about it and its products. Not doing so is the consummate no-no.
  1. Lacking energy. Body language such as slumping in the chair or a monotone voice translates to disinterest. Make sure you make eye contact and are actively engaged.
  1. Failing to ask relevant questions. Prepare questions that illustrate your understanding of the job and the industry so you appear interested. If you do not, the hiring manager could easily interpret it as a lack of interest in the position.

Discussion Questions

  • Why is it important to be respectful and kind to staff of any level?
  • What are ways you can “be authentic” without appearing overeager or giving yourself too much credit for work you collaborated on?
  • What kinds of specific questions could you prepare that would illustrate your interest in a given industry?