A class clown can completely ruin your class, if you allow it. I have had my fair share of class clowns, but I always tried to take into consideration just how much I love comedy.
As I finished modeling my introduction paragraph on the board, I turned around to see Jake standing on a desk. I looked at him. There was a pause because I was really thinking about my next move. Students were giggling, and staring at me in anticipation. His face let me know he was awaiting a note-worthy response.
“What are you doing?” I asked, trying to shield the exasperation in my tone.
“I’m TIRED of being the shortest person in here!!” Jake exclaimed. “Now I’m taller than Jeremy!”
You see, Jeremy was about 6’6″, and my class clown was about 5’4.
After staring at Jake for a moment, I turned back to the board and continued my lesson.
As I kept teaching, Jake kept his post. He stood proudly on top of the desk. And yes, he WAS now the tallest person in the room. But you know what, he was also taking notes.
I let Jake stand there the entire period because in all honesty, who was he bothering. Was it dangerous… well technically it is frowned upon to let students stand on desks. However, I just didn’t have the time or patience that day to let him get the best of me. That is exactly what he wanted. He got the giggles from his peers, but he didn’t get the response from me he wanted. I secretly wondered if he stood up there far longer than he had anticipated considering that I did not make him sit down.
Ultimately, Jake was not the first class clown, and he definitely was not the last. This scenario stands out to me the most though because I was so caught off guard. I have had a student burst out in Cee-lo songs… repeatedly, a child use profanity in their shared constructed response, a fit thrower, and more (mind you, these were 10th-12th graders), but for some reason, standing on that desk, that day, in an Honors class, really took the cake.
So what’s the point of this post? Simple, every fight isn’t worth fighting, and every student has potential to be something great. I honestly believe that Jake can be the next big comedian. However, I did not need his shenanigans during my class. I could have sent him to the office, written a referral, or responded negatively. But what I hope I accomplished that day was creating an environment that allowed him to be who he was without penalty. At best, I hope that teachers around the world can appreciate that comedians came from somewhere, and if there had been people along the way that broke their spirits when they were simply being who they were, we may not have all of the laughs we appreciate today.