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Conference Diaries #2 - Finding Your Funny Bone
November 24, 2013

Conference Diaries #2 – Flexing Your Funny Bone (or finding one)

At the TESL Ontario and CESBA conferences in October, I focused most of my workshops on all-things-technology.   I did so because, for one thing, I am genuinely interested in using technology in the classroom to engage learners.  Another reason was because I want to stay current, and share the current ideas, trends, and research findings with my colleagues, because for reasons unbeknownst to me, the “techie” label has become firmly affixed to my forehead.  People think I know stuff about technology.  I think I know as much as the next ESL teacher/instructor; I just ask more questions.

So now for something completely different.  A workshop at TESL Ontario entitled “Survive and Thrive with Humour” captured my interest by Tim Westhead of Tim Westhead Productions.  I took my seat front and near a power outlet (I had my laptop with me).   

The first thing I noticed about the London-Ontario native was that he referred to the workshop as a “show”.  I liked that, because that really captured the essence of this Work-Life Balance seminar. He had been an educator for many years.  One of the students he has inspired along the way is Mike Myers.  His show wasn’t about how to infuse humour into the classroom; it was more along the lines of taking a moment to recognize the humourous moments that regularly happen in the class, in the workplace and at home. 

Tim told stories about his career and homelife that had the audience in stitches.  He made me think that many of us have these moments, which we share with each other and then forget about.   We should keep a “Funny Stuff” journal of funny ESL moments, then go back, revisit the moments and remember that there were moments of funniness at work and in the classroom. 

My own students do a video project every year, and being the perfectionists that they are, only ever want me to see the finished product.  When I reclaim the class cameras, I always find hilarious blooper moments; I’ve found so many that I am starting to put together a blooper reel.  These are the moments that really bond the group and help to create lasting relationships.  One that I will never forget was during a video on changing a GFCI outlet, one of my normally very serious male students had a giggling fit that he was unable to overcome over a number of takes, which infected his entire group.  The camera is seen bouncing uncontrollably as the group of five convulsed in laughter.

Tim was a great resource, and I thoroughly enjoyed his show.   Next time you are at TESL Ontario, or a Spring Fling, check him out if he’s on the menu.  You’ll be glad you did.

Filed under: Teaching Tips


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