|Come September, more than 77 million students will be returning to school. Educators from nursery school teachers to college professors will want to start the year off right by making a good first impression on all of those eager and anxious minds.That first day is so critical for students as it sets the tone for the rest of the year. Many times, teachers will take the opportunity on the first day of class to look ahead and review with the students what they will be learning over the course of the year/semester. While an overview of what’s to come can be helpful, for many students the expansive list of topics, projects and assignments can be a daunting process that generates both anxiety and stress.|
This year, consider a different approach. Focus on the highlights and trim the fat. Give students a general overview and then spend time on engaging welcoming activities.
Hello, my name is …
Try an icebreaker called common threads. To play, toss a ball of yarn for a student to catch. That student will then need to share something about herself. The next student to speak needs to share a personal story that connects with the first student’s story in some way. The ball of yarn is untwined and held by each person who makes a connection, making a web of connections and showing commonalities amidst the group.
Get back into gear
Learning the lay of the land
One way to accomplish that is through a scavenger hunt. Scavenger hunts can take on many forms: to help students get more familiar with the layout of their course books, their classrooms or even their school/campus. Create a list of items students need to find or send them off with a list of clues that will send them on a journey.
Games are always a great way to engage students and get them excited about what is to come. Try to incorporate classroom rules, literature topics or key syllabus items into game show games such as Family Feud, Jeopardy or Pyramid. Students who are a bit more outgoing may find it fun to play a game of charades. To get the competition going, award students prizes they can use at school, ranging from pencils or USB drives to book bags and laptop sleeves. If nothing else … everyone always loves candy!
Plan for success
United States Census. “Back to School: 2011-2012.” United States Census Bureau: Newsroom – Profile America Facts for Features. United States Census Bureau, 27 June 2011. Web. 22 May 2012.
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