We once heard of a teacher who dressed up in her best bell bottoms and discoed her way into her classroom on the first day with Gloria Gaynor blasting from the speakers. Elaborate, but memorable (and if you decide to go that route, please send us a video so we can post it on our Facebook page for all to see). Of course, there are plenty of creative ways to introduce yourself to students that don’t involve quite so much glitter. Here, teachers from the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE on Facebook share their favorite ways to help their kids get to know them better.
1. Make a photo book to introduce yourself.
Start the year by reading your kids a book that’s all about you! Heidi J. says, “Last year, I made an ‘ABC’ photo book on Shutterfly and included one thing about myself for each letter of the alphabet. (And yes, I really had to stretch to figure out ‘X’ and ‘Q.’) After reading it to my students on the first day of school, I left it in the classroom library. The kids read it over and over again throughout the year.”
2. Map out a timeline of your life.
Draw a timeline on the whiteboard before you introduce yourself, suggests Jan R. As you share facts about yourself from different points in your life, have kids come up and add those events to the right place on the timeline.
3. Send postcards to introduce yourself.
Don’t wait for the first day—give your kids an idea of what to expect over the summer instead. “I took a picture of me playing fetch with my trusty golden retriever and sent it to each of my new students over the summer,” James C. shares. “On the back, I wrote a short note introducing myself and telling them how excited I was to have them in my class.”
4. Write a letter, and have them write back.
Heather U. digs right into the writing skills. “I have my students write me a letter every year, and I use my letter to them as a model.” Dawn M. adds, “I use it to teach the 5 paragraph essay format. I put 3 items that represent me in a bag. Each item is one paragraph of my essay. Then I share my essay with the kids and pull each item out while reading that item’s paragraph.” She follows up by having kids write their own introductory essays using the same format.
5. Create a Fakebook profile.
It’s not a great idea to show students your real social media pages. Instead, create a “Fakebook” profile, like teacher Marissa Q. does. Use the free online tool, or mock up one on paper, sharing interesting facts, photos, and other info about you that you’re comfortable with kids knowing.
6. Share your favorites.
Personalize the subject you teach by sharing your own preferences as you introduce yourself. “I print out a list of my top 10 favorite novels and hand them out to my students on the first day of school,” Carla H. shares. “That way they get a taste of some of the literature we’ll be reading during the year and get to know a bit about me as well.”
7. Let your star shine.
“Every week during the year, one student is Star of the Week and they get to display a collage of their favorite things in the classroom,” says Judith G. “For the first week, I’m the star and my collage allows my students to get to know me.”
8. Introduce yourself with a quiz.
First-day quizzes are a really popular way to introduce yourself to students. Karen S. explains, “I give kids a fun quiz that says things like ‘Mrs. S. has how many kids? Two, three, nine? Mrs. S.’s favorite restaurant is: Applebee’s, Red Lobster, Lonnie’s Luncheonette, etc.’ They love when they get them correct.”
If you want to make the quiz less of a guessing game, give them an overview of yourself first. Lisa T. does a slideshow about herself on the first day, and then follows up the second day with a Kahoot quiz to see how much they remember. Emily F. lets her previous year’s class help. “At the end of the year I have my students make a brochure for next year’s students. If the kids read it, they get a lot of answers to my quiz questions right.”
9. Let them piece it together.
Combine your teacher introduction with a lesson in gathering info from trustworthy primary sources. “I give students a stack of primary documents from my life (letters, report cards, class pictures, etc.) with all the sensitive information blacked out,” eighth-grade teacher Phil L. says. “I ask the students to create a timeline from that information, hypothesize about what happened in the gaps, and draw conclusions about the kind of person they think I am.”
Jan R. takes this activity a step further by turning her students into detectives. She puts all the documents in envelopes marked TOP SECRET and stashes them around her room. She even gives them magnifying glasses to read the fine print!
10. Introduce yourself by playing 20 Questions.
Here’s an old classic with a teacher twist. “I play 20 Questions on the first day of school and have my students guess things about me,” says Jennifer J. “It’s always a lot of fun. Unless some smart aleck middle schooler decides to guess that I’m 73 years old or something like that.” We feel you, Jennifer.
11. Dress the part.
“I know my students think of me as a bit of a geek (hey, what can I say, I’m a math teacher!) so I totally geek out for the first day of school,” admits Greg S. “I wear a pi t-shirt and thick glasses and really play up the geeky math teacher thing.” Want to go all out? Try these teacher dresses that make you look just like Ms. Frizzle!
12. Tell two truths and a lie.
This is another classic icebreaker that takes no prep time at all. “I throw out two truths and one lie about myself and have them guess which one isn’t true,” explains Allison H. “Then I have the students do the same thing. We have all sorts of fun getting to know each other.”
14. Introduce yourself in a movie.
It’s a bit more work, but teachers point out that you can use these again and again. Many teachers already have access to iMovie on their school computers. Learn how to use it here.
14. Let them make friends while they learn about you.
Lori S. writes questions about herself on some index cards, and answers on others. “Each student receives one card, and tries to find the classmate that has the answer or question that matches the card they get. After they have partnered up, the person with the question reads it aloud and then the partner that has the answer reads it to the rest of the class.”
15. Write an autobiographical poem to introduce yourself.
This idea comes from Brianna H., who says, “I like to do an autobiographical poem. I do a model about myself to use as a guide for them. Students write their own using the template and then write it on construction paper and cut out images to create a collage around it.”
16. Paste together a picture collage.
Use pictures to make a collage that tells kids about you with pictures instead of words. “We do a Get to Know Me in Pictures,” says Paige T. “Students draw pictures of things they want others to know about them, with no words other than their name. They mingle with one another and learn about their classmates. I made one for myself and I introduce myself to the whole class using mine, but because I’m the teacher, I have more pictures.” You could also make a silhouette collage using old magazines.
17. Remind them that you’re human too.
One good reason to introduce yourself to your students is to let them know you’re a lot like them. Donalda M. explains: “I play quick Get To Know Your Classmates games over the first week: BINGO “About Me”; Sit-Down-If-You’ve… (aka “Never Have I Ever”). At the end of the week, I reveal that each fact I asked them was actually something about ME! Each student realizes I’m just as human as they are. I’ve got something in common with each and every one of them.”
How do you introduce yourself to your students each year? Come share your ideas on the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE!
Now that they know you, you need to get to know them! Here are some great active icebreakers to get them up and moving.