Unexpected Fun Makes all the Difference

I’ve unearthed a hidden positive within this catastrophe. 

Besides the countless memes. 

More than the tens of minutes of Tik Tok dance practise (which have made me realise I am closer to middle-aged than not). 

Beyond simultaneously channelling James Bond AND Run DMC with a classic bow tie, trackies and old school Adidas superstars combination. (FYI, insert emoji perfection here).

So James Bond. Especially with the baby gate background (wait, he is all about safety, right?).

While I sat in my new, albeit smaller, classroom teaching space (that may or may not double as my youngest daughters’ bedroom with a new office desk jammed in there), listening to, and reading, students’ responses I found something golden within the every day.

Every single one of them wants to feel and be more connected – relationally, not just with a good NBN signal (though, NBN, any more upgrades would be welcome).

This isn’t a surprise. We know we are all craving connection. However, I think we are missing an important way to help satisfy this need.

I’ll give you a clue: it involves bow ties. Also balloons, accents and Google Translate. (And virtual wine clubs for the adults).

Wait, hear me out. Teachers, Friends, Digital Citizens, lend me your eyes.

I’ve discovered we all have real power to help others feel connected. This strategy can go by a couple of names, but here are the two fanciest:

  • Be a little different. 
  • Do the unexpected.

Like, kicking off a recorded English lesson with a ridiculous bow tie (or hair tie that is your daughter’s) and balloon virtual background.

No, it isn’t a real bow tie. Yes, it may or may not be my daughter’s hair bow tie/thing.

Within all that is happening, moments of silliness, fun or surprise (a positive one!) allow us a reprieve from what is occurring around the world. 

They momentarily dust our shoulders off and make things lighter and brighter.

Our kids definitely need this. Case in point, my three year old daughter, dropping her shoulders and sighing aloud, “Is the virus gone yet? When can we see Nanna? And the playground”. (Both valid points, they are both great things…and lucky she said them in that order). My wife and I keep our three year old fairly removed from current events as much as possible, however, she knows and feels life has changed. 

Our students do too.

How to break the script…

How can we break the script in our homes, virtual classrooms or with our friends?

Picture your typical day. Zoom in on a specific time, maybe the morning. Consider the moments within that time: breakfast, first lesson (or a lesson within the plan sent out to students), saying hello to students or colleagues, or goodbye to your partner or spouse. 

How could you do something slightly unexpected or different?

Live meeting or lesson? Get everyone to type in ‘Good morning’ into Google Translate, select another language they’ve always wanted to learn, have a quick practise, and then greet each other. (Remember to mute microphones with this…you don’t want a Kevin Rudd moment of anger at a language in a meeting or class).

On video? Wear something a little different. Rainbow bow tie. Or, in honour of May 4th, don your finest Jedi cloak ready.

Preparing a series or package of lessons? Ask them to interview family members for their best (and appropriate) joke. Decide on the winner and provide a reason why. Have them practise delivering it and then video their best version…collect a whole class worth and share them across your community. Speaking, listening, text analysis, community engagement, ICT skills and potential intercultural awareness all in one (sorry, curriculum nerd hat came on).

Whatever it is you decide to do or say, make it a bit unexpected and different. 

However brief the smile, laughter or chuckle, that feeling of connection makes all the difference. I’ve seen the smiles break out across my daughters’ faces, heard the joy in my students’ voices and listened as they said those moments were a highlight of their day.

This post is inspired by the book The Power of Moments by Dan and Chip Heath (in particular, Chapter 4). An incredible book that will change how you think and see moments.

How have you brought in unexpected fun? Why not tell us below?

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