First impressions are very important at the start of a new year. You always want to set the right tone for your classes – one that is both enjoyable and serious. It is about setting the bar with high expectations, introducing early challenge whilst making sure that students don’t drown with A level despair!
In the lead up to the start of term (and often during the first week back) you hear a lot of “What are your ice breakers?” I don’t have any for three main reasons: Firstly I believe that students soon get to know each other through the activities you do in lessons. I use two main activities to introduce Philosophy – the first is a movie maker “What is Philosophy” which instigates initial discussion (YouTube) and the second activity is a picture of Socrates Death with “What is Happening” (download the PowerPoint and worksheet free from: TES Resources).
Both of these activities work perfectly as ice breakers because the students cannot get the wrong answer, it is directly linked to the learning and enables students to contribute freely if they are comfortable (giving off those initial impressions).
The second reason I don’t use ice breakers (by ‘ice breaker’ I mean those ‘talk to the person next to you, now tell the class what you have learnt’ sort of activities) is because we have so little time. I am half way through Plato at this point because we do not have the luxury to introduce students back slowly.
The third reason is because the course is tough, the content is heavy and the ideas are difficult to understand. I don’t want to lull my students into a false sense of security then surprise them with what the course really is like. Start as you mean to go on!
So here are my top tips for starting the year: