8 Effective Ways To Get To Know Your Students

One of the challenges of back to school time is that you’re filled with a classroom (or classrooms) of students you don’t know. The students you just spent the last year with know your style, understand your expectations and classroom rules. You know their personalities, learning styles, quirks, likes, and dislikes. That knowledge base makes all the other stuff that happens in your classroom (ahem: learning) a whole lot easier.

So what do you do to get to know a fresh group of students at the beginning of the year? Some teachers have students place name placards on their desks until they have everyone’s name memorized. Others assign seating by name at the beginning of the year to make it easier for themselves. But getting to know your students is about more than just memorizing their names. It is also important that their fellow classmates get to know them too. The handy infographic below looks at 8 different get-to-know-you activities that are perfect for the beginning of the school year. Do you have any go-to, get-to-know-you, community building activities that always work well? Share with your fellow Edudemic readers by leaving a comment below, mentioning @Edudemic on Twitter or leaving your thoughts on our Facebook page.

Get To Know Your Students

  • The silent line- Students must silently form a line as quickly as possible with criteria dictated by the teacher. The whole group will form just one line. Criteria can be varied: height, shirt color, hair color, etc.
  • Ready, set, group- Students should form groups as quickly as possible with criteria dictated by the teacher. (Eg: get in a group of three with people who have the same favorite color as you do). Students will have to talk to one another quickly and arrange themselves. Consider timing the activity.
  • Toss the name ball - While sitting in a circle, one person holds a ball. They state their name, and then toss the ball to someone else. The person who catches the ball must state the previous person’s name, then add their own name before passing the ball again. Each person must repeat all of the names that came before theirs. If the ball is dropped, the process must re-start at the beginning – giving lots of incentive to not drop the ball!
  • Cross if you… – The group should be arranged seated in a circle of chairs with one person in the middle. The middle person says “cross if you..” and adds in a particular criteria. (Eg, Cross if you are wearing blue shoes, or cross if you have brown hair). Everyone who meets that criteria must leave their seat and find a new one. At that time, the person in the middle also leaves to find a seat in the circle. There will always be one person for whom there is no chair, so that person then goes to the middle and selects the next criteria.
  • Snowball fight - Each student takes a sheet of white paper and writes on it: a) one thing they are excited about, b) one thing they are nervous about, and c) one thing they’d like to learn. Everyone then crumples their paper into a ‘snowball’, and they are gathered in the center of the room. Each person then picks a snowball (not their own!) and has to go find and talk to the person it belongs to.
  • Truth vs. lie – Each person in the group should think of 2 facts about themselves, as well as one lie. In turn, they present their three ‘facts’ to the rest of the group, who have to collectively discern which item was a lie.
  • Foodie friends - This is a fun variation on the name game. The first student says their name and a food that begins with the name letter as their first name. (eg. Cauliflower Carrie). The following student repeats that before adding their name and food. By the time you reach the last person in the group, they will have to repeat each person’s name and food. The repetition and food association helps everyone remember!
  • A poem about me –Have your students write a 5-7 line poem about yourself. The teacher should delineate what each line should cover (eg. 1st line = your name, 2nd line = 3 things you love, etc). You can tailor this activity to any age group or subject matter. Have the class share their poems however you choose.



1 Comment

  1. Toni Chamberlain

    August 25, 2014 at 10:55 am

    A variation on “the silent line” is to have students form two groups. Then the groups are each asked to form a line alphabetically according to first name, then last name, then by the names of their pets. The group who does this the quickest wins a prize. If they don’t have a pet, I say, “Make a plan.” This forces them to talk with each other and get to know each other.