Teaching Tips 3: Take Fun Seriously

Ever since I started teaching I’ve strived to continually develop myself as a better teacher – either by learning (or refining) circus technique, learning related subjects (eg., gymnastics, first aid, leadership), or developing new ways of being and working with young people to get the most out of them.

Through these posts I hope to be able to offer you some new ideas, tips, and thoughts that will encourage and support you in being a better teacher.

Take Fun Seriously

Some of the worst teaching I’ve ever seen has been watching people work with children or young people and be very serious. I’ve watched coaches and trainers reprimand children in front of a group for doing nothing more than being a five year old and behaving exactly how a five year old should behave.

Some of the worst teaching I’ve done has certainly been when I’ve been in a serious or bad mood. When I’m being serious life isn’t fun and teaching becomes a chore. If you’re overly serious all the time your students won’t want to be in your class, won’t want to do what you ask of them and, at worst, they’ll even be scared of you.

A few years ago I worked with a gymnastics coach who, without fail, would always shout at kids when they didn’t do what he said straight away when playing games during their warm up. He was a very serious coach, who was not well liked by the kids. After the warm up, the kids in the class would be split into three or four groups, and every week without fail I’d have a kid come up to me and ask to be in my group instead of being in his group.

If you’re going to teach children and young people, fun is one of the most essential components of your class. Fun starts from a place of enjoyment, and its almost impossible to enjoy something when it’s forced upon you, or when you’re forced to be a certain way. When kids can express themselves, play, and experience freedom and pleasure in class, not only will they be more attentive, work hard, and progress but they’ll enjoy your classes and they’ll enjoy being with you. If you can find a way to make sessions fun kids will respond. And guess what? You’ll enjoy them more too.

Play, have fun, joke, you don’t need to be serious all the time.

Tips For Having Fun

  • Practice smiling
  • Treat kids nicely
  • Play a variety of games
  • Join in the games yourself
  • Ask young children questions – their answers are priceless!
  • Use themes with young kids
  • Don’t keep kids waiting
  • Be interested in them
  • Give lots of “high fives”
  • Don’t walk into a class annoyed or upset
  • Keep challenging them
  • Let kids talk to each other
  • Let them talk to you about school/other activities/their week
  • Acknowledge them
  • Be more enthusiastic and excited

Ways to Kill Fun

  • Insist on silence
  • Shout
  • Reprimand kids for minor “infringements”
  • Don’t play games
  • Always play the same games
  • Make kids sit still for long periods
  • Never smile, always frown
  • Be boring/angry/serious
Do you have any tips or ideas on how to make and keep classes fun? Let me know in the comments below.

If you’re interested you can find out more about the classes and workshops I teach at Airborne Circus.

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