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Summer is over and the 1st day of school is here. A high school teacher now has the responsibility of education 100+ students perhaps in three different courses. How should you start off the year?

  • An assessment to evaluate reading, math, or science skills?
  • A detailed presentation of classroom culture, student expectations, and a thorough review of a syllabus.
  • Jump right into the curriculum with an engaging lesson
  • OR………….

The teacher really making an effort to learn each student in the class by establishing a strong connection that will result in a positive relationship that will promote the possibility of each student reaching his or her potential.

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” Theodore Roosevelt

One way to start the year is with ice breaker activities. There are many that work for teachers, but you need to feel comfortable. It has to be an activity a teacher can own and feel confident in presenting to 20 – 30 high school students.

  1. Allow the students to sit anywhere. The students will take a random seat at the start of class this is perfectly fine. Once the students are all in a seat. Give a brief introduction of who you are and the class name. You may find a few lost souls and you can point them to the correct class. This could be particularly common if you have students who are new to a school, such as freshman in high school.
  2. Take attendance IMMEDIATELY by having students come to the front of the room to pick up a student information sheet. This is will allow the students to be working on the information while the other students are being called to the front of the room. This will help a teacher to start to associate the name with a face. It is also an opportunity to ask the student what name they would like to be called in class.
  3. Rocks, Papers, Scissors: WHAT???? Yes rocks, paper scissors. Call up 2 students to the front of the room for a 2 out of 3 competition. I will ask for the winner to make a choice. The students will have NO IDEA what the choice is, but that adds to the mystery of the 1st class. Student pairing ideas: 1st and last on the list. Same last names, Same 1st names: September birthdays. The possibilities are endless. Students have some fun with this.
  4. The Questions: 1st or Last: This choice will determine whether the seating chart will start with the alphabetically (1st) or reverse alphabetically (last). Front or Back: This choice will determine whether the seating chart will start in the front of the room or in the back of the room. Snake or Typewriter: This choice how the students will be placed. The snake method places the student in the next row on the same side as the last seat in the 1st row. The typewriter method places the next row directly in front of the 1st student. Each proceeding row will follow the same technique. Right or Left: This choice will determine whether the seating chart will start to the right or the left. You (the student) or Me (the teacher): This choice is one of the more confusing one. It simple determines whose left or right the teacher’s or the student’s. A teacher who is facing the student will have the opposite right of a student’s. Then take the time to place the students in the seats.
  5. Students complete the worksheet. This will allow the teacher to process what has happened.
  6. Hand in the worksheet: Call the students to the front of the class before the bell rings to end the class. Be sure to allow enough time to have every student place the paper on a desk in the front. This gives the teacher a 2nd opportunity to make a connection between the name and a face.

This may not work for every teacher, but after 25+ years of teaching, I have found this to be an enjoyable start to the school year for the students and me.