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Classroom Community Builders and Ice-Breakers

On this page, we’re collecting some great resources for icebreakers and rapport. This includes research on the importance of building rapport. But, we’ll also share quick classroom tips and tricks. We’ve even got some great icebreaker or warm up activities here. Keep coming back as we update this page regularly. Got a link you want to share? Send it in.

Classroom Tips for Building Rapport

  • It’s Not Them, It’s You: Why Students Don’t Pay Attention And How To Keep Dead Time Out Of Your Classroom. A series of tips for keeping class moving so students don’t have time to get bored. Start these good habits for you and your students today!
  • The wonderful My Name My Identity Project has great resources for learning to pronounce foreign names among other things. Take the pledge to try to learn how to say your students’ names correct. I do say “try to learn” because much as we tell our students they may never lose their accent and that’s ok, we teachers will probably always have an accent in other languages, too.
  • How Can You Use Icebreakers? from Cornell University. What a great list of things to consider when selecting an icebreaker. There’s also some excellent general advice on how to facilitate an ice breaker.
  • Setting The Tone in the First Ten Minutes of Class. This is a great testament to the power of the Do-Now. I like how a good Do-Now can create a classroom space that is calm and work-focused but still friendly and safe. Believe it or not, some teachers dislike fun icebreakers because they feel it can get students ramped up at the beginning of class. This article is a good reminder that an icebreaker can be calming as well.
  • 50 Classroom Procedures is a comprehensive checklist of procedures you may need for class, such as how to start class off and what to do if students are confused. Note that this is just a list. It’s up to you to figure out how you will do those things. As well, it’s clearly targeted to school teachers as it includes procedures like hallway expectations and lining up. However, it’s a helpful list and it’s a nice reminder to have your procedures in place before a situation occurs.
  • On the Very First Day (Be the Best You Can Be) Often the best way to build rapport is to share a bit of ourselves and our interests with our students.

Articles on Icebreakers & Rapport Builders

  • Icebreakers Aren’t Just for the First Day of Class. Building rapport doesn’t just happen on day one. Students’ lives, interests, and needs change as the school year goes on. Here are some reasons why you need to do getting to know you activities year round. Plus, some examples of activities that work well for keeping up with our changing students!
  • Don’t Break the Ice. Build Community What’s the difference between an icebreaker and a community builder? Here’s how I discovered that icebreakers need to give way to community building events tailored specifically for students.
  • The Importance of Establishing Rapport with Your Students . This is a great article on the benefits of building rapport with your students. It breaks rapport-building-behaviors into concrete things you can do in your classroom today! We like the attempt to categorize what qualities a teacher should have to build rapport with students.
  • 5 Reasons to Use Ice-Breakers.  The five basic reasons to include ice-breakers in your classroom. Paradoxically, I definitely agree with the points about relaxing students and waking them up. However, the author forgets that icebreakers can also set the tone for the classroom or even establish rules (for examples, check out our book 50 Activities for the First Day of School). Still, this is a great survey of why every teacher needs a collection of ice-breakers in their teacher toolkit.
  • Warmers, fillers, what on earth? Although the author doesn’t mention icebreakers, her criticism of random fun fillers applies to icebreakers. Icebreakers can be empty fun or useful tools that take care of classroom business. We agree, which is why we carefully curated the activities in 50 Activities for the First Day of School to be productive and fun. Students won’t respect a teacher who does fun things all the time.

Ideas for First Day of School Activities

  • 3 Ways to Take Advantage of the Culture in Your Classroom My three favorite activities for getting students to share their greatest resource–their own culture.
  • 4 Activities to Get to Know Student Expectations   So, here are four of my favorite activities to learn my students’ expectations. These activities have the added benefit of being fun and working well as icebreakers or as class rapport.
  • 7 First Day of School Activities Students Love focuses on activities that get students thinking about the course and course requirements. We’re always fond of articles that stretch rapport builders to be about more than just getting to know you or having fun. Although, those things are important, too.
  • Using a Course Blog as a Class Ice-Breaker. Can a blog be an ice-breaker? This professor tried it out and found it worked pretty well!
  • Icebreakers for a Psychology Class Great introduction: “The best ice-breakers simply are important, relevant activities that have as an additional feature an opportunity for the group to get acquainted. In addition, we do not view ice-breakers as only necessary the first day or first week of courses, but rather we view ice-breakers as ways to continue building community and introducing new topics.” The authors also point out that ice-breakers should be adapted to the course. That’s why  50 Activities for the First Day of School has activities designed for the ESL / EFL classroom.
  • The Importance of Icebreakers In Online Classes by Jessica Mansbach. This post raises an interesting point. Building community in an online class can be much more difficult than in a face to face class. Some good ideas about doing team building activities through a computer.
  • 12 Reasons Why Teachers Should Use Warm-Up Activities is a good summary of why icebreakers and warmers are more than just fun ways to kill time.

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