Building good rapport with students and establishing healthy, positive, respectful relationships between students is important the first days of school and throughout the school year. One way to develop rapport is through icebreaker activities.
Here are some easy to carry out activities that might come in handy to start the new school year off on the right foot.
Write me a letter
Write a letter to the class, copy it and distribute it or upload it online. Tell the class a bit about yourself (hobbies, interests, likes/dislikes, favourites….) and encourage them to write back to you. Explain to the class that the letters will not be corrected and that they are simply for you to get to know a bit more about each other.
Hand out a slip of white paper to each student. Ask them to write three things about themselves on the paper, for example, I’ve got an older sister, I can speak French, I like pizza. When they have finished writing, they crumple the paper up into a ‘snowball’. Say 3-2-1 and encourage students to throw their snowballs in the air. Ask them to pick up one of the ‘snowballs of crumpled paper and to try to find the person who wrote it by asking questions to each other. Following this, they can introduce the person they found to someone new. If there is not enough room to move around the classroom and find the owners of the snowballs, students can write two questions on each piece of paper, for example, Do you like pizza? Have you got a pet? After throwing the ‘snowballs’ students ask and answer the questions in pairs or small groups where they are seated.
True or False
Display 2 true sentences and 1 false sentence about yourself to the class, for example:
My birthday is in September.
I’ve got a cat named Clive.
I never go to the gym.
Allow students to think on their own which sentence is false and share their answer with a partner or small group. Ask the pair or group to come to a consensus regarding the correct answer/false sentence. Talk through answers and then allow time for students to write sentences and see if their partner can guess which one is false.
Write an acrostic poem about a classmate or friend
An acrostic poem is a poem where the first letter of each line spells out a word or forms part of a phrase. Write the name of a classmate or a friend vertically on a piece of paper and think of words or phrases about this person (what they are like, things they like, things they do….).
What do you expect?
Discuss what your expectations are and encourage students to discuss in as much detail as possible what their expectations are for the upcoming months. You can discuss things like what their expectations are of a good teacher or ask them to think about their favourite teachers in the past and the qualities these teachers had. They can also give examples of projects, topics, activities or tasks where they felt they learned a lot.
Taking time at the beginning of the school year, and during the school year, to get to know your students is worthwhile and helps to build stronger relationships in class.
Good luck starting off the school year well!