Updated: Aug 5, 2021
Hilarious pranks you can play on your students are the subject of today's post — but be sure to use these judiciously!
It’s April 1st, which means it’s the day to prank and be pranked. For any of our tutors who are teaching today, we thought we’d give you a few ideas for some easy, harmless tricks to play on your students…
1. Silent Speaking
A simple one that requires little effort: start the lesson exactly as normal, but when you move your mouth no sound comes out. Act as though absolutely nothing is wrong, and see how long you can keep it up for.
2. Spy trouble
I think this one is my favourite: prearrange with a friend that they’ll call you fifteen minutes into your lesson, and pre-set their number as ‘MI5’, ‘Detective Inspector Watson’, ‘Counter-Espionage Unit’, or something similar. Make sure your pupil can see the screen and the name when the call comes, then brush it off while pretending to panic. Tell your pupil to keep working while you go to the other side of the room and make an important phone call. Fake whisper lots of deeply suspicious things, such as ‘Where can I go? They’ll find me anywhere’; ‘You said you destroyed the evidence!’, and ‘My life’s not worth living if I turn on them’. Return to work as if nothing at all has happened.
3. Nonsense files
If you teach using your laptop or tablet, create some really silly desktop folders, and see how long it takes your pupil to notice. If that’s too subtle for you, why not ‘accidentally’ open a file on a similarly ridiculous theme, and make a huge fuss about closing it down quickly? Some topics I’m tempted by include: a dossier on which politicians are really aliens, why I think cats are spying on me, and whether lemons really exist… You can still try this if your lessons are paper- and pen-based – create the same types of documents, print them out, and have them spill out of your bag…
4. Missing Words
I sometimes set word searches for my pupils, as way of embedding new terminology or definitions. Why not give your tutee a word search, but ‘forget’ to include the last few words listed? See how long they keep looking before they give up in frustration! (Obviously this will need to be deducted from your chargeable time.)
5. Forgotten Homework
At the start of the lesson, ask how your pupil got on with the big essay/exam paper/report they were completing for you for homework (obviously, this doesn’t work if you actually did set them homework…). If you’re feeling particularly mean, and you know your pupil can handle it, you could launch into your disappointed/annoyed/letting yourself down forgotten homework speech – we’ve all got one – and draw it out for a good few minutes.
6. Bring Cake
This one takes a bit more preparation: as a special treat, bring cake to the lesson! Except by cake, I mean a cereal box or a sponge wrapped in roll-on icing and decorated. Promise it as a reward for good work, and then ask them to cut into it. It’s probably best to have some real cake with you as well, just so you don’t end up with a really upset pupil…
7. Fake Test
Prepare a test for your pupil, beginning with the instruction to read to the end before answering any of the questions. Include impossibly hard questions, well out of the student’s age-range and ability. Use the last question on the last page to explain the joke: if they follow instructions, they’ll get there much sooner, but if they ignore the opening instructions they’ll end up attempting some very nasty questions! As an alternative variation, set a test, worksheet, or comprehension exercise that is entirely gibberish, and seem completely bemused when your pupil doesn’t understand – this one could have some great potential for our language tutors!
8. No prank prank
This one’s all in the build-up. Tell your pupil all lesson what a great prank you have planned, how you’re so excited to see they’re reaction, and how you’ve been planning it for weeks. Then do absolutely nothing.
Disclaimer: these are all suggested as harmless ways to tease your pupils. You know their individual circumstances — if they’re getting really panicky over an upcoming exam, have experience of being bullied by teachers, or have parents who will disapprove, then it’s probably best to save these for another time and place. Otherwise, enjoy, and feel free to share any stories!
Blog Post Crafted by Rebecca
Background: Rebecca is one of our most popular tutors, with a degree in English from the University of Cambridge and hundreds of hours of private tuition experience in 7+, 11+, English and Maths. She is also an assessor for Titanium Tutors, observing the mock lessons taught by potential tutors and deciding whether or not they meet the high standards of the agency.