Updated: Jul 10
The start of any school year is an exciting time and one of the things you are probably most excited about is getting to know your new class. In this blog post, we are going to talk about why it is important for students to connect with each other and their new teacher as well as how to calm first day jitter for students (and teachers). I am also going to share some fun activity ideas for getting to know your new students too.
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What are getting to know you activities?
Getting to know you activities are activities you can use with your new students to allow you to learn more about each other quickly. These could be activities that ask about their interests, hobbies, likes, dislikes learning styles etc. They can be carried out in different ways such as verbally, written, drawing, through art, as a whole class, in groups or individually. My pack of Getting to Know You activities includes 20 different fun activities to help you learn all about your new class!
What is the purpose of getting to know you activities?
The purpose of getting to know you activities is to encourage students to interact and make connections with each other. They also allow the teacher to learn more about their new students. Getting to know you activities can build a positive classroom community and are a good way to welcome new students to their new class and academic year. They allow the teacher to observe students and see how they interact with each other. They also give the teacher time to mingle with students and learn about them in a more relaxed, less formal way. Getting to know you activities can help ease any worries students (or adults) may have when starting a new school year. They help to build trust within the classroom and establish routines in low pressure environment. Getting to know you activities enable children to become more familiar with their new surroundings too!
Why is getting to know students important?
Getting to know your students is important as it helps to build positive relationships which then builds a positive learning environment. If the teacher knows about their student’s interests, it can help them to make learning experiences more engaging for them. These types of activities also allow teachers to learn about their student’s learning needs and styles which will make it easier for the teacher to meet these. It is good to know what motivates students as it enables better learning. Getting to know you activities allow teachers to learn about their student’s goals for learning and can help students meet their fullest potential.
Why is it important for students to connect with each other?
It is important for students to connect with each other as this builds a positive classroom community, sense of trust and belonging and helps students feel like part of a team or family. Students will be more likely to support each other when they find things challenging. Getting to know you activities also helps to reduce anxiety when starting a new school year as it gives students a feeling of familiarity.
How do you help students get to know each other?
During first few days of school, you can carry out various fun activities that encourage teamwork, discussion and problems solving skills. It is important to make them fun too. You can play different games where students can be in teams or pairs. You can change the groups or pairs that students work in to encourage them to get to know other students too. Ensuring there are lots of opportunities for discussions which can be done through activities such as “Would you rather”, start or end of day questions, sharing news etc will help make students feel more welcome and comfortable in their new class. Ensure to include opportunities for problem solving activities as this will encourage students to talk to each other to solve the problem. You can also carry out other fun getting to know you activities, like the ones featured in this pack and ask children to share them with the class or a partner.
What are the benefits of getting to know you activities?
Getting to know you activities can create a more positive, relaxed classroom environment where students are more likely to contribute and share ideas. They can build a good rapport among students and adults. Teachers can more effectively meet student’s needs if they know more about them. These types of activities prepare students for group work or working in pairs during different learning activities. They allow students to confidently talk about their learning and share their learning goals and next steps.
Why are students nervous on the first day of school?
Students may be feeling nervous on their first day of school for many reasons. They may be experiencing a feeling of uncertainty about their new classmates, new teacher, or new learning environment. They may also be experiencing a lack of control and are not sure what will happen and what the day will bring. Learning a different routine or noticing that their new teacher may do things in a different way can also cause nervousness. Students may be split from friendship groups from the previous year or may be in an entirely new school all together. Students may also be anxious about things such as where to line up, classroom routines, where to put things, where to sit etc.
How to calm first day of school jitters?
You can calm first day of school jitters by encouraging students to talk about how they are feeling. You can spend time introducing yourself and allow children to learn each other’s names and introduce themselves too, this can be done through games. It would be a good idea to take time to explain the routine of the day, so students know what to expect. You can go over this again throughout the day to remind children that are unsure. Clearly explain routines such as where to line up, where to put things, where to sit etc and continually remind children of these throughout the day. You can carry out some fun getting to know you activities. Make sure to do a range of both active, whole class activities and quieter, individual activities to allow you as the teacher to observe students and to see their learning and activity preferences. You can spend time telling children about yourself. Include things such as your hobbies, pets etc so students feel like they know you too!
Why might teachers be nervous on the first day of school?
Teachers can get nervous on first day of school too! This could be due to joining a new school or new department. If you are brand new to a school and are unsure of expectations such as moving around the school, lining up, how to go to lunch etc, this can usually cause a bit of nerves.
Learning about a new class and new students and not really knowing what to expect can also cause teachers to feel anxious about their first day. You as a teacher will want to meet your student’s needs and ensure they are engaged and enjoying learning. You may have new students added to your class at the last minute. If are a new teacher, you may be worrying about losing control or respect of your new class or that you may come across as not knowing enough about the material you are teaching. Feeling like you are not doing enough for your students can also cause the feeling of anxiety. However, the fact that you are worrying about these things already means you are a good teacher who only wants the best for their class. Feeling confident with these things will take some time. And that is perfectly ok!
How to calm teacher first day nerves
There are some ways to help reduce those feelings of nervousness on your first day with your new class. Ensure you have planned out your first day routine. You can even rehearse the day. Make sure and find out anything you are unsure of if you are in a new school such as break and lunch times, lunch time routines, expectations for lining up etc. Ensure you have all your resources and activities ready to go so you are not scrambling around looking for things during the school day. You can spend some time going over routines and expectations with your new class. You can also spend time learning about your new students in fun ways such as games and getting to know you activities. Ensure you have any information about new students you may need such as medical needs, additional support needs etc. You can also speak to their previous teacher about this.
What are some learning activities you can use to get to know your students?
There are various fun activities you can carry out with your new class to help them feel welcome and allow you to learn about them. You can do more active activities such as Charades, Show & Tell, Scavenger Hunts, building/ model challenges in groups. You can also go outside and play games such as Tag, Stuck in the Mud, Duck Duck Goose. You can do activities like human bingo where your students find someone with same color eyes etc as them. Then there are games like, Who Stole My Pencil, Wink Murder and Would You Rather.
You can also carry out quieter and calmer activities such as my getting to know you activities in this pack. There are activities such as My Favourite Things, Summer Memories, What’s in my Backpack, My Ideal Classroom. You can ask children to share how they have completed the activity with the whole class, in groups or with a partner. These activities are ideal to create a fantastic display in your classroom for the start of the school year too!
Overall, there are various types of getting to know you activities you can explore to allow you to learn about your class and to help your students learn about each other too.
Remember that some students (and teachers) may be feeling a little nervous about the first day of school and spending time getting to know each other in a more relaxed way will help everyone feel more comfortable in their new learning environment.
Keep in mind, there are many benefits for spending time getting to know your class and it is well worth doing as it will set you up for a fantastic year!