Even the most seasoned teachers get butterflies when it comes to the first day of school. It’s a day of first impressions, and that can be nerve-wracking. You don’t know your students, you don’t know what behaviors to watch out for, and even the best teachers can’t plan for the unexpected. It’s safe to assume the students are also anxious about starting fresh with brand new teachers.
Classroom icebreakers are essential to starting the year off right for teachers and students alike. It’s an opportunity to have a little fun, start the year light, and most of all, learn some important tidbits about the young minds you will be molding all year long.
Ice-breakers are also ideal assignments to help students get to know each other better. As students learn about their fellow classmates they become more comfortable within the classroom, helping to create an environment conducive to learning, listening, and taking risks.
Here are ways to break the ice and welcome your students to a new year of learning and opportunity.
WRITE A LETTER TO YOUR STUDENTS
Mail students an introductory letter about yourself. Tell them where you’re from, what your family is like, and why you love teaching. This will help students see you’re someone who is excited to be their teacher.
HAVE STUDENTS WRITE YOU A LETTER ABOUT THEMSELVES
After sharing your letter with the students, assign them a letter to you to share fun information about themselves. They can talk about their family, their summer vacations and some of their favorite subjects from school. This will give a little insight into the new personalities in your class.
INTERVIEW OTHER STUDENTS AND SHARE
Divide the class into partners of two or three and have them interview each other. They can ask about favorite movies, hobbies, sports, or who their teachers were the year before. It’s best to give them the questions to ask. The next part of the assignment is to have students share what they learned about their partner(s) and report it to the class. This helps everyone get to know each other.
THE NAME GAME
This is useful for teachers to quickly learn the names in a new class. Stand in a circle. The first student says their name and then adds an adjective and a movement. For example, Gwendolyn says, “Galloping Gwendolyn” while skipping in place. All students repeat her name and action, then the next student adds their name, adjective and movement. The whole circle would say, “Galloping Gwendolyn,” while skipping in place, then Pete would say, “Powerful Pete,” with a fist pump. All students start at the beginning with Galloping Gwendolyn, followed by Powerful Pete, etc. Each time the next student in the circle adds their name, adjective and movement. The teacher should go at the end. It’s a fun way to remember everyone and you’ll be amazed how those adjectives and moves will be remembered for years to come!
What are some icebreakers you’ve used in your classroom that have been both fun and helpful in getting to know your new students?