Teaching Class Clowns (And What They Can Teach Us)

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Leverage the unique humor of class clowns to improve classroom management and student motivation!

This first-of-its-kind resource shows teachers, administrators, and counselors how to teach these unique yet at-risk learners while also leveraging their blend of humor and intelligence to inject joy and enthusiasm into the classroom. Written by a veteran educator (and self-described class clown), this concise guide combines laugh-out-loud writing with the author's field-tested expertise to help educators:

  • Identify the four "signature" tendencies of class clowns
  • Employ practical classroom strategies to keep instruction moving
  • Prevent class clowns from acting out by understanding how to teach them
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Editorial Reviews

Psyc CRITIQUES: Contemporary Psychology
"Teachers are given suggestions on how to emphasize fun in learning activities, channel humor positively, and create a classroom atmosphere that fosters the development of talents, especially the gift of humor. This core message is consistent with the strength-based approach of positive psychology. "
August 2007 PsycCRITIQUES
"Teachers are given suggestions on how to emphasize fun in learning activities, channel humor positively, and create a classroom atmosphere that fosters the development of talents, especially the gift of humor. This core message is consistent with the strength-based approach of positive psychology."
August 2007 Psyc CRITIQUES
"Teachers are given suggestions on how to emphasize fun in learning activities, channel humor positively, and create a classroom atmosphere that fosters the development of talents, especially the gift of humor. This core message is consistent with the strength-based approach of positive psychology."
Middle Ground Magazine
“Sounding like a veteran professor, a concerned father, and a clown himself, Purkey spends much time defending some of the most challenging—and often engaging—students in the classroom. His empathy for these students is apparent, but he is realistic too. Purkey’s strategies will help any teacher struggling to manage the behavior of a class clown or another problematic student.”
Leile Poppleton
"The book made me look at the class clown in a positive light rather than a negative disruptive individual. It gave me many ideas on how to channel the energy of a class clown in a positive direction."
Aaron Faletto
"It is not difficult to read, and in places is laugh-out-loud funny. I related several of the more humorous passages to my wife, and we both laughed heartily. I would recommend this book to my colleagues because we have all had students like these in class, and they can be most disruptive if they want to. Having some strategies to use with these special students will be most helpful."
Mark Sadler
"First of all I was immediately able to see myself, and some of my antics, as a child, student, adult, police officer, and now a teacher! It was nice to finally be able to "come-out-of-the-closet" (so to speak) and truly be who I am! Second, I was able to apply a great deal of what was spoken of in helping my current Clown! He has responded marvelously! Third, this manuscript allowed me to look back at the errors I have made in working with students who identify with the Class Clown persona, and (hopefully) not repeat them."
Frank Parajes
"There are many good and concrete suggestions for practitioners. The author not only identifies the complex issues at stake but goes on to make appropriate suggestions for dealing with class clowns. Teachers will be energized. "
Gerald A. Juhnke
"Purkey provides teachers a rare glimpse into the children behind the clowning student and describes “nuts and bolts” means to engage such students into the learning environment."
Anne Richards
"This is an uplifting, refreshing, informative, amusing and generally life-enhancing book that addresses a reality most teachers define as a problem – the presence of class clowns in school rooms...offers practical suggestions for working with challenging individuals more productively – for both teachers’ and students’ sakes... articulates a perspective that resonates with the disheartening experiences of many teachers, yet inspires them to go beyond the status quo to bring greater significance, meaning and humanity to their work as professional educators."
Ken Smith
"The book addresses an important area of education that has been neglected for too long of a time. Not only is the book informative and addresses an important educational area, the author writes in a style that is ‘easy reading’ and quite humorous. The authors style of writing actively engages and ‘invites’ the reader to think about his or her own past school experiences so as to become better teachers or administrators."
Daniel E. Shaw
"In this delightfully written book, Dr. Purkey has captured the essence of those 'characters' whom all of us can relate with, having sat next to in school, been one ourselves (class clown) or endured the challenges of teaching these scamps. I have gained a more compassionate insight into multifaceted qualities of all those I teach."
Zacharie J. Clements
"Dr. Purkey has gifted a joyous affirmation to all whose philosophy for effective living is anchored in the belief: 'A day without laughter is a day without sunshine.'"
Donald W. Russell
"Finally, the true significance of the 'class clown' has been professionally identified and analyzed as a functional teaching source. . . [and] presented as a challenging opportunity for the teacher to capitalize on this all-too-often over-looked student."
John J. Schmidt
"An innovative topic, well presented. Any educator who reads this book without cracking a smile or having a good belly laugh is in the wrong business! Purkey's delightful expose about class clowns and the lessons to learn from them offers much needed fresh air and insightful messages."
Harvey A. Smith
"Purkey's stories, research, wisdom, wit, and humor constantly encourage the reader to read on. He invites everyone to make the world a better place by adhering to his eight rules for a cheerful life."
Tim Cusack
"For a class clown reading this book was like looking into a mirror. But I looked, sounded, and seemed smarter in Purkey's mirror."
Newsletter of the Association of American Schools of Central America
"Humor is a super teaching instrument. Properly channeled, class clowns can provide sunshine for both the mind and heart in any classroom."
Gifted Education News-Page
"Provides an excellent description of the characteristics of class clowns and makes recommendations concerning how to teach them. This book would be particularly instructive for new teachers who are just learning about the ups and downs of different types of classroom behaviors."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781412937252
  • Publisher: SAGE Publications
  • Publication date: 5/28/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 152
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

William Watson Purkey is professor emeritus of counselor education at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro and co-founder of The International Alliance for Invitational Education®. A noted author, researcher, speaker, and leader, Purkey has authored nearly 100 articles and more than a dozen books.

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Sally Butzin
About the Author
1. Appreciating Class Clowns
The Case for Class Clowns
Having Fun as a Teaching Strategy
Breeding Ground for Professional Comedians
Who Is a Class Clown?
The Value of Cheerfulness
2. Understanding Class Clowns.
Humor Brain Drain
Friendly Clowns and Hostile Clowns
Friendly Clowns
Hostile Clowns
Class Clown Relationships
The Art of Clowning
Tribulations of Class Clowns
Signature Tendencies of Class Clowns
3. Investing
The Value of Investing
How to Teach Class Clowns Through Investing
Share Responsibilities
Form Triads
Spotlight Talent
Modify the Grading System
Encourage Special Interest Groups
What Class Clowns Can Teach Us About Investing
Any Attempt Is a Victory
If it’s Worth Doing, It’s Worth Doing Poorly
Be a Rubber Ball
4. Asserting
The Value of Asserting
How to Teach Class Clowns Through Asserting
Be Positive With Directives
Use No-Cut Contracts
Promote Civility
Involve Clowns in Decisions
What Class Clowns Can Teach Us About Asserting
Keep a Sense of Humor
Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously
Challenge Authority
Promote Democratic Values
5. Relating
The Value of Relating
How to Teach Class Clowns Through Relating
Use Inclusive Pronouns
Brighten the Classroom
Build Class Spirit
Conduct Field Studies
Play That Funky Music
What Class Clowns Can Teach Us About Relating
Savor Every Moment
Enjoy Life
Fight Fair
6. Coping
The Value of Coping
How to Teach Class Clowns Through Coping
Keep the Volcano From Erupting
Listen to the Ice
Follow the Six C’s
What Class Clowns Can Teach Us About Coping
Capitalize on Bad Moments
Count on Serendipity
Find Humor in Frustrations
Be Suspicious of Hearsay
A Final Encore

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