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Every teacher knows that ice breakers are crucial in starting the school year off right. There are so many options on what to do to start creating the classroom atmosphere you want. Do you play a game? Do you do introductions? Interviews? If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my teaching experience is that you need to get to know your students well, and learn about them fast. Here are five questions that will get you started on the right path from day one of the school year.
1. What is your preferred name?
Our students get more and more diverse every year, don’t you think? They come from different places and different backgrounds, and it is SO important to show all your students that you care. Names can be difficult to say, students from different countries or cultures may have names that you’re afraid to butcher. These students deserve to have the choice of what you do. They can give you many options: nicknames or “English” names, or they give you the pronunciation and you practice it until you get it right. Another big reason is the increase in transgender students in our classrooms. They may not have been able to change their name yet, so give them the chance to tell you. Names are important, they are a window into the identity of our students, make sure to open up that window.
2. What are your preferred pronouns?
As I mentioned, the amount of transgender students in our classrooms is increasing. I would say whether or not we understand our transgender students, they should be welcomed just like everyone else. Asking for pronouns outright avoids awkward situations and upsetting any students in your classroom.
3. How do you learn?
While left brain and right brain is a myth, it’s still true that all our students learn differently. Do they do well just reading? Do they need more hands on practice? Are they artistic? These are things you need to know for your lesson plans and activities you plan going forward.
4. What is your favorite activity?
This is another quick and easy way to find out who your students are. This doesn’t have to just be sports (I was never a sporty kid so I hated the question of “what is your favorite sport), it can also be creative activities, video games, internet surfing, etc. Their favorite activities can tell a lot about them and they will give you ideas for your activities in lesson plans.
5. Any Food Allergies?
Don’t shy away from food. This is especially important for high school teachers. Once you know this, you know what food to bring for a special occasion and/or what snacks to keep on hand for your hungry students. Food = better classroom behavior and focus. Make sure all your students can eat something in your classroom.