CALA Meeting – Using Humor in Library Instruction

I’m presenting a short session on using humor in library instruction at tonight’s Chattanooga Area Library Association. I only have 6 slides and they are all pictures, so I’ll write out some brief talking points here so the presentation on Slideshare has some context.

Laughter in the best medicine:
Laughing reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, improves breathing and produces endorphins. Humor will help both you and your students relax. Encourage it, embrace it; it’s good for you both inside and outside the classroom.

Humor is an icebreaker:
Humor breaks down barriers in the classroom. It removes the distance between instructor and student and creates an environment where students feel comfortable and will contribute.

Humor anchors learning:
Studies have shown students are more likely to remember material when it is presented with humor. Something silly or ridiculous generates a “stickiness” factor in your brain and you’ll more likely remember it later.

Never be afraid to poke fun at yourself:
Use librarian cliches, make fun of having to “shush” people, let them see your exasperation with database interfaces. It humanizes us to students and actually makes us more accessible to them.

Know your popular culture:
Most undergraduate students live in a different world form the one we live in. Knowing a little bit about what they are watching, reading and talking about allows you to incorporate entertainment value into your classroom content. Mine your student workers or the neighbor’s teenage kids for ideas. Gather intel to make your humor all that much more “relatable” to your students.

Make it a game:
Incorporating games into instruction changes the flavor and feel of the classroom drastically. Place students in teams and have them compete against each other. Time them. Cheer them on. Give rewards (candy) to students or teams who get the correct answer first.

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