The uses and effects of humor in the school workplace
Miller, Barbara N.
The role of humor among teachers in schools has not received much research attention. The purpose of this study was to explore teachers' perceptions of the uses and effects of humor in the naturalistic setting of an elementary school. A qualitative exploratory case study was conducted. Twenty participants from one school completed a survey on uses and effects of humor, and a focus group was conducted with five of the survey participants. Results were transcribed and coded using the constant comparative coding methods, and themes were developed and compared to the scant prior research findings on the topic. Findings identified a group of teachers who used humor mostly to provide stress relief for themselves and each other and to alleviate some of the stresses associated with teaching young children. Participants also reported the use of humor in sharing stories and events that occurred in the school workplace. Findings also included consistent perceived positive effects from the use of humor in building collegial relationships, in providing rejuvenation, and in preventing burn-out. Teachers reported using humor in positive and productive ways and enjoying positive and productive results. Overall, study participants were in strong agreement in regards to uses and effects of humor in their school workplace. As this was an exploratory study, further research is needed in additional school settings to explore reliability in regards to uses and effects of humor in other schools and with other mixes of teachers. As the scant previous research has shown a correlation between positive collegial relationships and good school climate and improved student learning, it would also be beneficial to conduct additional studies on the role of humor among staff in regards to student achievement.
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