CoverIntroductionWellbeing and Its Importance in SchoolsWhat frameworks exist to promote school wellbeing?What is the best approach for my school/district?Valuable Tools and ConsiderationYour Call to ActionStudent Wellbeing InterventionsPositive Emotion Three Good ThingsCounting BlessingsEnvisioning Your Best Possible SelfUnderstanding HumorThree Funny ThingsOutdoor LearningBringing the Outside InBibliotherapyEngagementRecognizing and Utilizing Personal StrengthsARCS Model of CuriosityCarousel BrainstormingGenius HourPerspective Taking and Role-PlayArts IntegrationDrawing and Coloring TherapyCulturally-Enriching and Arts-Based Field TripsCulturally Responsive PracticesSocial Belonging InterventionEmotional Self-Regulation: RULER methodModeling Emotional Self-Regulation SkillsTeacher PraiseRelationshipsModeling Love, Kindness and ForgivenessActive Constructive RespondingDialogue JournalsSecret Strengths SpottingPeer Praise NotesActs of KindnessVolunteeringFast FriendsBuddy BenchMeaningEducating Students about Benefit AppraisalsGratitude LettersSavoring StrategiesTaking in the Good (HEAL)Mental Time TravelBrief Mindfulness ActivitiesMindful BellMindful BreathingBody Scan RelaxationMindful Walking/MovementFive Senses MindfulnessMindful PhotographyMindful Self-CompassionAccomplishmentFuture Thinking & When/Where PlansHope MapG-POWER Goal SettingEmbedded Self-Regulation StrategiesGrowth MindsetGrit and Deliberate PracticeDeveloping Students' Resilience and Coping SkillsHealth and VitalityHealthy Sleep HabitsClassroom Physical ActivityYogaCreative Playground EquipmentHealthy Body Image InterventionStudent-Led Health ProgramSchool-Led Interventions for Teachers and StaffSupporting Teacher AutonomyMindfulness TrainingCompassion TrainingHumor TrainingIncentivizing Physical ExerciseIndividual Interventions for School EmployeesPositive and Reflective JournalingSelf-Regulation and Coping StrategiesSelf-AffirmationSelf Compassion LetterDiscovering and Utilizing Character StrengthsJob CraftingMindfulnessAdditional Interventions to ConsiderDedicated Wellbeing SpacesIndividual Wellbeing Plans for School EmployeesOther ResourcesPROSPER
Addressing Wellbeing In Schools

Understanding Humor

As educators, it can be helpful to understand humor and its benefits to maximize its effect in our lives. The Benign Violation Theory categorizes humor as something that is simultaneously harmless, but a violation of our beliefs or expectations. This ‘sweet spot’ is different for all of us depending on how we perceive the situation (Humor Research Team, 2015, n.p.). To become better at humor, Andrew Tarvin (2017), a comedian and consultant, suggests that we start by sharing our point of view. Understanding that humor is a skill, helps us see that the more we attend to it and learn from our mistakes, the better we can become. Specifically in the classroom, Elias (2015) suggests that teachers can set up a joke Friday, laugh at themselves more often, and share memes and jokes.

For humor to be most effective and appreciated by students, teachers are encouraged to use humor that is appropriate and/or relates to the content or point of the lesson (Edwards and Gibboney, 1992, 22-23). There are four main types of humor that are considered appropriate:

Humor is important to learning because it reduces students’  anxiety levels and helps them feel more comfortable in the classroom. Not only does humor reduce symptoms of emotional distress, but it also promotes positive emotions. Studies have found that the use of humor in the classroom increases self-esteem, alertness and creativity (Lujan & DiCarlo, 2016; Savage et al., 2017).             


Edwards, C.M. & Gibboney, E.R. (1992). The power of humor in the college classroom.  ERIC Document ED 346535. 

Elias, M.J. (2015, March 30). Using humor in the classroom. Edutopia. 

Humor Research Team. (n.d.) Benign violation theory. Humor Research Lab: University of Colorado Boulder.

Jonas, P.M. (2010). Laughter and learning: An alternative to shut up and listen. Rowman & Littlefield Education. 

Luhan, H.L. & DiCarlo, S.E. (2016). Humor promotes learning! Advance in Physiology Education, 40(4), 433-434.

Savage, B.M., Lujan, H.L., Thipparthi, R.R. & DiCarlo, S.E. (2017). Humor, laughter, learning, and health! A brief review. Advances in Physiology Education, 41(3), 341-347.

Tarvin, A. (2017, September). The skill of humor [Video]. TED Conferences. 


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