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Here’s a great way to get to know your students

A middle school teacher shares icebreakers that work

I am always looking for new ways to get to know my students. Over the past two decades, I have attempted dozens of different types of icebreakers in my classes; some were successful and others were a total failure.

When I started teaching in smaller towns, I noticed that many high school and middle school teachers skipped icebreakers because they assumed the students already knew each other. I would argue that it’s always a good time to do an icebreaker with your students.

Here are some of the best times to do icebreakers:

  • At the beginning of the year to introduce yourself and any students who are new to the district. (Even if the students have been together since kindergarten, do they really know everything there is to know about each other?)
  • A few weeks into the school year to help the students feel more comfortable working in groups
  • After school vacation weeks for a smooth transition back
  • Any time there is a change in classroom dynamics (introducing a new student, a student teacher, or even when a student moves out of the district)

As teachers, our goal is to help our students. Sometimes they work independently; sometimes they work in groups. Each student has a different learning style, personality, and culture. I believe that using icebreakers can be a useful tool to not only get to know one another, but to also help students learn how to interact positively with one another. Icebreakers can also aid the teacher as a classroom management strategy and be a fun way to break up the monotony of everyday school routines.

There is an infinite supply of icebreakers to choose from, but here are a few that have worked well for me:

Here are some cooperative learning activities that can be used as icebreakers while also teaching students how to work together:

Here are some ways teachers use technology to get to know their students:

  • Make a Question Wheel on Wheel Decide
  • Have students create their own questions on Kahoot!
  • Create a fun review on Quizlet or Gimkit
  • Throw a QBall (a throwable microphone ball) around the classroom in question/answer form so everyone can hear each other’s answers

Since I teach Spanish, I often have students try to do some icebreakers in the target language. You can change many of these to work with your specific curriculum. Choose one to try with your students today!

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