Lifestyle in the Classroom: Creating  a Positive Culture with Pun-a-tive Humor

Humor in the classroom can be a nebulous area to navigate with students. Get too silly, and they don’t take you seriously, get too serious and they hear Charlie Brown Teacher voices–whaw–whaw–wha–wha–whaw–whaw.

Many teenagers speak the fluent language of sarcasm and it is tempting as their teacher to try and relate to them in this manner, however sarcasm tends to breed an atmosphere that lends itself to cynicism, and criticism. Teens do enough criticizing of each other, and to themselves when they look in the mirror, and when they interact on social media. As one of the only constant adults in their lives, and possibly the only adult, what they need from us is positivity, and constructive feedback that creates a safe space in our classrooms for them to learn and grow in.

This is where I usually insert the art of punnery. The good ole’ dad jokes are the best for creating a silly, yet academic atmosphere that students will be sure to laugh at, even if it’s at you–and that’s ok. The best thing is when they begin to join in, because suddenly there’s a culture present where it’s cool to play with language. While you might be thinking that playing with diction is not your thing, it can get pretty addicting because when language suddenly becomes cool, your students become dictionaries of puns they’ve picked up in their experiences and you end up laughing about something that is simply silly, and slightly academic.

Recently, I had my freshmen research Greek Gods/Goddesses/Monsters to present to their classmates. After each presentation, I created a compliment styled pun to have the class repeat chorally and these were some of my favorites:

Minotaur–That was aMAZing!

Athena–Whoa! You slayed that!

Selene–Your presentation was over the moon!

Aphrodite–That was a heartwarming presentation!

Hermes–We definitely got the message loud and clear!


Because I’m an English teacher, I will end with one last cheesy joke.

Knock Knock

Who’s there?


With Who?

NOOOOO, it’s with whom!

A Giant Valentine my Juniors surprised me with last year…they know I like Star Wars