Back To School: Five First Day Icebreakers

Most teachers can share tips on how to run the very first lesson with a brand new class. But what can you do when it’s the first day of a new term with a class you’ve already taught? There’s a still need for icebreakers that will get rid of ‘back to school’ blues and get the term off to a positive, energetic start. We’ve gathered our favourite five for you here – some with genuine educational value, and others that are just plain fun….
Back to School

1 Set some goals

Day one lesson one is a great time to step back and set goals.

Challenge your students with questions such as: ‘Why do you think this subject will be useful to you in the future?’, ‘What do you want to improve on this year?’, ‘What advice have you got for me as your teacher?’.

Rather than doing this one student at a time, you could put students into pairs or threes to compare thoughts.

And after you’ve done this exercise once, you can start the next term by reviewing how students felt they did against their goals.

2 Throw a pretend party

Get all the students to stand on one side of the room, and tell them the opposite side is a ‘party room’. Appoint a couple as host/hostess, and brief them on how to welcome guests. Then encourage the other students to “arrive” at the party – either individually or in small groups – then mingle, chat and catch up on news. You could walk around, serving imaginary drinks and snacks.

Your students might be initially reluctant (felling self-conscious about imaginary drinks etc), but once they enter into the spirit they should enjoy it.

3 Create a time capsule

By the end of the year, nothing will carry more impact for students than being able to – literally – see how far they’ve come since the start. So use this start to create a record of current ability. For example, make a video of them reading aloud or speaking in a foreign language.

At the end of the year, bring these examples out again and let students recognise how much they’ve grown.

4 Have a snowball fight

Get your students to write three things they did during the vacation on a piece of paper. (Or the best book/movie etc they enjoyed recently – whatever you think will work).

The students then crumple their paper up into a ‘snowball’ and have a one-minute snowball fight. At the end of this, everyone grabs the closest snowball and has to try to find the person who wrote it.

5 Draw up a class contract

You might have already done one of these, but the first lesson can be a useful moment to go back and revise it – or, of course, create one from scratch.

The key is to get the students to create the content themselves – though a smart teacher will steer them to include important things anyway.

After splitting the class into smaller working groups, ask students what they think your role in the class might be. And then what they think their role is. As groups, the students can then present their ideas to the rest of the class.

From this, encourage the whole class to condense all their ideas down to a 10-point contract between them and you. You might even be surprised at how tough students can be on themselves! Get everyone to sign the contract, and put it up on a wall somewhere.