Ham It Up to Build Relationships with Your Students

Jason LimBlog, Connect Better, Engage Better


  • Build relationships with students by not being afraid to look goofy or silly in front of them.
  • Some strategies to build relationships with students include using movie quotes or current popular songs, telling jokes, dancing, and more.

When I graduated from college, I did not know what I was going to do.  To be honest, I wanted to be a teacher, but my grades were not the greatest.  So when I left school, I had numerous jobs but I would not have called them a career.  I had one where I went door to door selling coupons for various businesses (gag, worst experience ever). 

I did the same thing but with life insurance (side note: no one wants life insurance).  Finally, I went back to school and worked at UPS and my parent’s restaurant (who am I kidding, I always worked there).  Somewhere in between all of that, I always wondered what it would be like to be a stand-up comedian.  

Ham it up to build relationships: Now, keep in mind I had no experience or training in this.

I just thought it might be cool to perform at a nightclub for five minutes or so.  Maybe it could have led to a short-lived career because the world needs more Korean comedians (please do not get me started with Margaret Cho or Ken Jeong. However, I do enjoy Steven Yeun). 

I even was asked (very informally) to work for Second City.  However, in the end, I guess the thought of someone heckling me frightened me and I never took a chance on it.  HOWEVER…

Being a teacher is my stage! 

Are You Not Entertained GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

(courtesy of Giphy.com)

Every day, I perform for hundreds of students while at the same time getting to instill knowledge in them.

For me, I believe it is one way to create a relationship with them.  

Now, if you are not comfortable with being goofy or looking ridiculous, you might want to stop reading and go to the next blog.  Furthermore, if this is not your style, then do not try to force it.  Middle school students can spot a fake in seconds.  Other than that,  if you want to strengthen your bond with the students, well I think this can help you out. 

At first, I did not think this was helpful, but Monica Genta reaffirmed my ideas, as she has the same mentality as me.  She also does little quirky things to get the kids to pay attention.  She probably could be my sister from a different mister (even though I have never met her before).   

If you wanted to be silly, I would start off slow.

To do that, you can say silly things when you are teaching to see if the students are paying attention.  For example, I will say something from a movie like The Waterboy in the middle of my lesson (i.e. Gatorade is better!). 

Another thing I do is butcher pop songs they might know.  Currently, I am saying “Watermelon sugar yeah yeah” because I forgot how the Harry Styles song goes.  Another way to get your students’ attention?  There’s no better way to get their attention than by saying “Gucci Gang” in class (note: I purposely butcher the pronunciation of it).    

Some other silly things you can do in class to build relationships (but please, read your class first):

Elaine Dancing GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

(courtesy of Giphy.com)

  • Telling “dad” jokes to your students.
  • Play music and dance.  I like doing silly dances (if you’re a Seinfeld fan, you can do the Elaine in class). 
  • Accents (for Spanish teachers, I pronounce the “boot” in boot verbs like an Englishman).
  • Joke with them.  A light-hearted ribbing is always pleasant, as long as it isn’t threatening or mean-spirited.   
  • Dress up once in a while.  I have seen one of our P.E. teachers, Todd Weimer, dress up like it was the ’60s.  It is a RIOT!  He wears his short shorts and an old Kaneland shirt from the ’80s.  I do not go to those lengths, but one year I wore suspenders every day to school.  It got to the point where many of the 8th-grade basketball players wore suspenders as well on game day.
[scroll down to keep reading]

So why do this?  Well, we are working to build relationships with these students.

When students see this, they see you as vulnerable.  It isn’t a bad thing. It just shows them you are a regular person and you are getting to them on their level.  This, in turn, lets the students be comfortable in the class and be themselves. 

So as we head into spring break, why don’t we ham it up for our classes?  I mean, they are in school for over 7 hours a day…why not make it enjoyable for them?  Once again, if this is not your thing, then please read onto the next blog.  However, if you would like to spice up your class, you might want to ham it up.  I bet your students will think it is “Litted and Gucci.”

See the full blog series here!

About Jason Lim

Jason Lim is a middle school Spanish teacher at Kaneland Harter Middle School. This is Jason’s 13th year teaching Spanish. He graduated from NIU with a Spanish lit degree in 2003 and received his Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from Concordia University in 2013. In his spare time, you can see Jason rooting for the Chicago Bears, Cubs, and Bulls. Besides Chicago teams, Jason is passionate about education and the framework of education. His goal is to be the best person he can be and inspire his students to do the same, whether in the classroom or in the outside world.