September 24, 2018

by Shaun Fagan

A new school year is a great time to set realistic and attainable goals for ourselves and reflect on last year’s lessons learned. One important aspect of starting the year off right is getting to know your students: did you know that on average, teachers affect more than 3,000 students during their career? And when teachers spend time to get to know their students, it can have a positive effect on their performance, engagement, and even test scores.

Don’t gloss over getting to know your new students as unique individuals this year. Try using these icebreaker ideas to support a collaborative and meaningful learning environment for your classroom.


1.) Start with the basics: There’s nothing wrong with the classics! On day one, have each child share a few fun facts about themselves. Try games like using a beach ball and writing questions on it, or use candy such as M&M’s, and have each color represent a topic for them to talk about. You can promote active listening by quizzing students on what their peers said—and impress them by memorizing their names at the end. Start with a few questions, such as:

  • What’s your name
  • Where were you born?
  • What are your 3 favorite hobbies?
  • Do you have any pets?

For students who tend to be a little quiet, or those who tend to be afraid when speaking in front of groups, try using a microphone to give each student a chance to be heard. An audio system is the perfect way to ensure that everyone (including the teacher) can hear.


2.) No words, only pictures: Did you know you can talk about yourself without saying a word? Students and teachers can create their own personalized collages with photos, whether they be from a camera, a magazine, or a newspaper. Or instead of a collage, use objects. To spruce things up even more, teachers can collect each collage from the student and have students guess which one belongs to whom.


3.) What’s in your bag?

The “What’s in your bag?” game has been an internet sensation. Famous people are sharing what’s in their bags, and you can do the same in your classroom. Have students split up into groups and use small group audio pods to listen in on each one.

Building relationships between students and teachers fosters a positive and engaging learning environment to start off the new year right. Once you get the ball rolling, make sure you don’t lose momentum during the year: continue team-building and group activities each week that inspire the foundation of a caring community.

Shaun Fagan

Shaun Fagan

Shaun Fagan's mission at Lightspeed is to continue to find new ways to create access to learning by studying the dynamics of the classroom. His goals include evolving our instructional audio systems to improve the learning environment for both students and teachers. Outside of the office, Shaun enjoys spending time with his family, running and training for marathons, and rooting for the Oregon State Beavers!

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