Via ThoughtCo.: How to Deal With a Class Clown
Class clowns are often natural born leaders. They are also individuals who really want and need attention. Therefore, dealing with class clowns centers on a way to channel their energy and need for attention into more positive avenues. Following are some ideas that you can use as you help deal with these unique personalities in your classroom.
1 Talk with them outside of class about when their humor is appropriate.
If you find that a student is often cracking jokes in class and disrupting lessons, your first step should be to talk with them outside of class. Explain that while they sometimes say things that are humorous, their actions are causing other students to lose concentration and miss important information. Make sure the student understands your expectations. Also, reassure them that there will be times for them to make jokes, just not in the middle of important lessons.
2 Call on them and get them to participate.
There are a couple of types of class clowns. Some use humor to gain attention while others use it to deflect attention from their lack of understanding. This suggestion will only really work on the former: students who want a stage on which to perform. Give them attention by calling on them and getting them to participate in your class. If they are using humor to hide their lack of understanding, you should instead provide them with additional help to make sure that they are not falling behind in class.
3 Try to find a way to channel their energy into something constructive.
As previously stated, class clowns really want attention. This can be constructive or destructive. Your task is to find something that they can do that will help channel their jokes and energy to something worthwhile. This could be something that they do within your class or in the school at large. For example, you might have the student become your ‘class assistant’. However, you might also find that if you guide the student to activities like acting in a school play or organizing a talent show, then their behavior in class will improve.
4 Make sure to immediately stop any humor that might be offensive.
You must set boundaries in your classroom of what is and is not appropriate. Any jokes that are meant to hurt other people, denigrate a particular race or sex, or use inappropriate words or actions are not acceptable and require swift action.
5 Laugh if you must, but use your own discretion.
This item is somewhat up to your own discretion of whether your laughter would make the situation better or worse. Sometimes not laughing can be difficult, but remember that your laughter can be seen as a sign of encouragement. The class clown might continue with the jokes, further disrupting the class. Other times, your laughter can put an end to the jokes. Your acceptance of them and their humor can cause the student to stop and pay attention again. However, this is something that differs from student to student.
6 If necessary,move them away from their friends.
If you can get the class clown to direct their energies in a positive manner, then moving them might not be necessary. However, if your other actions do not work, moving them away from their friends might be one of the few actions you have left. Realize, however, that this can have a couple of effects. One is that without a ready audience, they stop making jokes and become more focused. However, another effect might be that the student loses interest in the class entirely. Keep a close eye on the situation to ensure that the needs of all students are met.
7 Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Finally, try to differentiate between harmless humor and disruptive behavior. With some students, allowing even one joke to pass unnoticed can cause a downward spiral. However, other students can interject a funny comment every once in awhile without causing a major disruption. If you react the same to both situations, you might be seen as unfair or humorless. Your best bet is to deal with those actions that cause your lessons to lose focus and go awry right away and let the others go.