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Working With--Not Against--the Class Clown

Working With- Not Against- the Class Clown

History teacher Leann Ferguson and high school student Lawrence Davis, a self-professed archetypal class clown spoke with NPR’s Lee Hale about how a teacher can work with the class clown, rather than treat him or her as a nemesis to instruction.

"What if we looked at class clowns differently? What if, instead of seeing them as a nuisance, we saw them as gifted? A little misguided, sure, but still gifted,” the article asked.

In order to harness this change in perspective, Ferguson recommends that her fellow peers with class clowns in their classroom learn to not take the disruption personally.

As opposed to looking at the disruption as a personal attack, Ferguson suggests accepting the class clown as a different kind of learner.

“...most of the time, Ferguson would laugh right along with Lawrence. He was still expected to do the class work and his jokes weren't tolerated if they were at the expense of another student,” the article said.

By adopting this change in perspective, teachers can begin working with the class clown as opposed to against them.

"During moments that most of us would have just felt annoyed, Ferguson saw potential. Amid the fart jokes and color commentary that constantly disrupted her lessons, she saw a gift: He could really command an audience,” the article said.

After understanding Lawrence’s “raw skill,” Lawrence went from antagonist to ally” in helping act as an example to his classmates and leading behavior.

Ferguson also learned how to customize learning to all learners- even the class clown- after working with Lawrence.

Despite being his teacher only for his freshman year, Ferguson remained as a mentor for Lawrence and helped encourage him even when he considered dropping out later on. Now, Lawrence is on track for graduation and is applying to college.

“He’s using his gift for good.”

Read the full story here.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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