Can we have “fun” in the classroom?

While reviewing tweets today, I came across an interesting blog post by Tamara Fisher, a K-12 gifted education specialist.

In this post, she discusses how her students have “fun”, but that’s ok because she knows what they mean.  As I read through her blog I was really happy with the things she had to say.  Maybe I’m just a pre-service teacher with “crazy notions” from the University floating around my head, but I think that learning can be FUN!

Already, in my pre-service career, I have heard many ideas of how to be an “effective” teacher within the classroom.  I’ve heard you always need to be smiling, I have been told I need to add more “pizazz” and “energy” into my lessons at points, and I’ve always thought, I’m being me… the students don’t need me to put on a show to make them want to learn IF I am teaching in a way they WANT to learn.

My grade 4s knew the ins and outs of what a cell looked like, because we created our own model of one.  We did this in one lesson, and they still talk about it.  That is excitement, and THAT is learning.

Like Tamara, I feel that I am low key, and I am NOT an entertainer, I also feel like I am too genuine a person to put on an act for my students (I know they would see through me in an instant).  My belief is that if I do my job right, I don’t need bells, whistles and handstands to get my student’s attention.  I also believe that my students can feel like we are having “fun”, and I’m ok with that because I know that learning is taking place!

11 thoughts on “Can we have “fun” in the classroom?

  1. So… I always respond to this by saying FUN??? No Way!!!! We definitely won’t be having any FUN. There will be none of that in My Room!!! I hate fun. I can’t stand fun… FUN is for school kids! ….(oh wait… haha)

    Anyway, I figure fun is contagious so if I have it… they will too.

  2. As part of a quiz I gave today I asked students to rate the difficulty of my class on a scale of 1 (easy) to 5 (very difficult). Several commented that the class seems less difficult that it is because it is fun. It was reassuring to see students making this distinction because I sometimes worry that kids and parents don’t automatically equate “fun” with “easy.”

    1. That would be a gratifying moment. I think that is an important distinguishable concept and if my students could associate the two I would really feel like I have done something special. I think you can be proud in accomplishing such a great feat!

  3. Yes ‘fun’ is important in the classroom because ‘fun’ is about making people smile and laugh and enjoy what’s going on around them and in their head. I think ‘fun’ encourages individuals to interact with others, explore and construct more knowledge and develop greater skills. And yes I agree it is important to be yourself, however, that doesn’t mean that you will not further develop your skills, be a little or a lot more adventurous at times, try something different and observe the interaction, learning, or lack of, that takes place with your students.
    I have discussed this with a colleague and she has pointed out that enjoyment in the classroom should come from intrinsic motivation rather than extrinsic motivation. This is about students learning for the ‘joy’ of learning rather than the ‘chocolate’ or the piece of praise that the teacher gives out. I like a bit of both when I am learning; sometimes some extrinsic motivation can help us through when we are light on intrinsic motivation, but I agree that for learning to take place and for learners to develop autonomy, intrinsic motivation is key.
    Thank you for this opportunity. Keep up the great work and I love your ‘blog design’ – the colours, headings and your organisation work well for me. Hope you don’t mind my Australian spelling…

    1. Well said. Thank you for your thoughtful insight. I agree that the ultimate goal in teaching should be learning for the sake of learning. I do believe that students should primarily be intrinsic. Like Tamara’s students I hope my future students will enjoy the challenge.

  4. I couldn’t agree with what you are saying more! I listened to some people talk about their internship experiences last night, and the thing they stressed the most was to be yourself and have fun.

  5. I completely agree with you. Not everyone has it in them to “put on a show” (me being one of them) and I think just being yourself is way more important than trying to impress people. The sad thing is that a lot of children dont see through phoniness until much later on in life but I think that its the genuine people that really make a difference.

  6. I think it is about making learning fun, but that doesn’t mean that learning always has to be animated either. I also am not an overly animated person, though there are times when I am dramatic in one sense of another to get their attention and make an impression. Most of the time, however, I count on my relationships with the students to aid in learning. My students feel comfortable asking questions and know that I will affirm their ideas and help them to succeed. I think you are right in believing that you don’t need bells and whistles. Kids also appreciate consistency and appreciate when people are “real” with them. Great to hear your thoughts, Amy!

  7. I also caught that article today and loved it! The best part is the section with all of the quotes from the students from grades 1 – 12 and what they think of as ‘fun’…it was great to hear so many kids thinking about fun as a challenge. I think this article really does not go just for the students in Tamara’s ‘gifted’ classroom, though. I think if we set students up for success but at the same time provide relevant challenges for them, they are for the most part going to really enjoy working hard to solve those challenges.

  8. I loved this post! I completely agree with you. I don’t think as a teacher, you should need to put on a show and be something your not because children are a lot smarter then most people give them credit for. They know when you are actually caring and when everything is phoney. Thank you for sharing this, it really caught my attention when I read it because it is absolutely true!

  9. I totally agree with you Amy! I believe that being myself in the classroom is one of the most important things that I can do to make myself comfortable which in turn will make the students comfortable. Having a tense or “fake” atmosphere in a classroom isn’t fun for anybody. Great Post!

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