By Any Means Human

Greetings from Asbury Park Atlantic City, NJ, where my family is on vacation for a week.  Coincidentally, I just noticed that today is my blog’s first anniversary, so here’s a link back to that first post from 2 August 2007.  I’m taking advantage of a rare quiet moment when everyone but me is napping to get a quick post off.

Tracy Rosen tagged me in a piece entitled “By Any Means Human”, which asks teachers to consider the human element they bring to the classroom.  As anyone who has been to university taught for any period of time knows, content knowledge alone does not a good teacher make.

For my part, my students have always told me that my sense of humor not only helps make sometimes dry material more accessible, but helps them connect a little more to me (and to each other) personally.  In fact, I got a very nice thank-you card at the end of this past school year from a senior I had in my first quarter Shakespeare’s Comedy class.  In it, she informed me that my sense of humor not only helped her to understand the works we studied*, but also helped the class of to bond considerably.  There’s something about laughter that brings people together; I guess it’s the participation in a shared experience that does it.  As I’ve said before, I’m all for engendering that sense of community in my classes, through whatever means I have at my disposal, technological or not.

This isn’t to say that the jokes I make are GOOD, per se – in fact, I pride myself on the ability to craft a cringe-worthy pun out of almost any situation (although the one I made about Titania and Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream had the entire class LOLing for a good while!).  Maybe it’s more that I can (and frequently do) laugh at myself, which the students may find rare in a teacher.  I take my job and my responsibilities very seriously, but myself much less so.

Instead of tagging individuals, I’ll leave the tag open to anyone who reads this – what special human element do YOU bring to your classroom?

* In a nine-week course, we study three of the greats (OK, two of the greats and Measure for Measure).


  • Nice reflection to read, Damian. I’m glad you found some time to write on your vacation…I hope you’re able to laugh as well 😉

    I find myself repeating – often – if they’re laughing, they’re going to remember. And apparently, there’s some science behind that:

    How Laughing Leads to Learning

    Healing Hearts, Laughter and Learning

  • Damian,

    I’m glad you’ve retained your sense of humor during a (challenging, but aren’t they always) family vacation.

    Congratulations on your Blog Birthday! I always enjoy reading your posts and I’m sure you infuse your classes with the same mix of fun and learning.

    What do I bring to my own classes? A mothering sort of caring, I think. My students seem to like my unusual approach and a relatively stress-free (since I don’t teach a core subject) environment.

    They probably think of me as that slightly crazy but basically nice grandmotherly sort of teacher. And that’s fine with me.

  • I must shout you out on your blog b-day. Congrats on keeping it around this long. And having a sense of humor is critical to teaching. Because it’s easy to get down on yourself in this job, but laughter is as therapeutic as it gets in this profession.

  • Thanks for the well-wishes, folks (and research, @tracy!). When I started this thing, I honestly didn’t know if I’d last a month, but here we are. The posts have been few and far between in the last few months, but it’s something I enjoy doing, and I’ll be making an effort to blog with a little more regularity come the fall (even if it means cutting into my Twitter time, he said half-jokingly).

    Hope you’ll all stick around, even if I manage to shift the focus a bit more towards the psychology end of things (what with the new job, and all).

    Unrelated whyizzit: Whyizzit that when I haven’t posted for weeks, my RSS subscribers go thru the roof, but when I actually write, I tend to lose 3 or 4? Anyway, if you’re a new reader, thanks for subscribing; why not drop a comment?

  • I, for one, definitely plan on sticking around. Psychology is a big part of what we do, us teachers…at least this teacher 😉

    Looking forward to new posts.

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