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Teaching Class Clowns (And What They Can Teach Us)

Teaching Class Clowns (And What They Can Teach Us)

Foreword by Sally Butzin

© 2006 | 152 pages | Corwin
 "A challenging opportunity for the teacher to capitalize on this all-too-often overlooked student."
—Donald W. Russell, Professor Emeritus and Acting Dean
School of Education, University of North Carolina, Greensboro

"Offers much needed fresh air and insightful messages."
—John J. Schmidt, Professor of Counselor Education
East Carolina University

"For a class clown, reading this book was like looking into a mirror. But I looked, sounded, and seemed smarter in Purkey's mirror."
—Tim Cusack, Speaker, Trainer, Actor

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
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  

"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."

Leile Poppleton
Family and Consumer Sciences Teacher, Twin Falls High School, ID

"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."

Aaron Faletto, Music Teacher/Band Director
Newport Heights Elementary, Bellevue, WA

"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."

Mark Sadler, 5th Grade Teacher
Oliver J. Kendall Elementary, Naperville, IL

"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."

Frank Parajes, Professor
Division of Educational Studies, Emory University

"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."

Gerald A. Juhnke, Professor
University of Texas at San Antonio

"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."

Anne Richards, Professor Emerita
University of West Georgia

"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."

Ken Smith, Counseling and Educational Psychologist
Trescowthick School of Education, Australian Catholic University, Fitzroy, VIC, Australia

"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."

Daniel E. Shaw, Associate Professor, Behavioral Medicine
Nova Southeastern University

"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.' "

Zacharie J. Clements, President
Inner Management Inc.

"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."

Donald W. Russell, Professor Emeritus and Acting Dean
School of Education, University of North Carolina, Greensboro
Key features
  • An informative, lively, and concise guide to understanding and teaching class clowns, who often are both gifted and at risk learners.
  • Includes practical strategies for teachers, counselors, and school administrators.
  • Outstanding reviews: this book is laugh-out-loud funny in its own right
  • Author is an active consultant, speaker, and workshop trainer

Sample Materials & Chapters


Chapter 1


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ISBN: 9781412937252

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