As summer dwindles down, middle school students (and teachers!) are likely starting to think about the much-anticipated first day of school.
For students, the first day of school is a combination of many emotions. Some may wish they were still enjoying their summer nights of freedom, while many look forward to returning to the comfortable familiarity of school. In either scenario, it’s critical to plan a first day of school that welcomes students back, instills an eagerness to learn, and sets the appropriate tone for your classroom.
Fun Beginning-of-the-Year Icebreakers for Middle Schoolers
So, how can you accomplish these goals while showing your students that coming back to school can be fun? Using icebreakers will help ease everyone back into the school routine. Here are three first-day-of-school icebreaker activities for middle school students to introduce themselves to you as the teacher—as well as each other—without using the traditional “Hi, my name is...” icebreaker.”
1. Goal Setting
Turn setting goals and creating a growth mindset into one of your first activities on the first day of school! After discussing with students what a growth mindset is and how having one can help them achieve their goals, students should set specific goals for the school year. These can be academia related, such as “Reading one book a month,” or more aligned to routines and practices, such as “Arriving at school on time” or “Keeping an organized binder.”
For this middle school icebreaker, I usually ask students to write two goals of their choice and then list a few bullet points under each goal that shows the steps they will take to make their goal achievable. Once students are finished, this is an excellent opportunity to have your first conference with them to discuss what they have written. This also provides time to initially get to know your students and personally welcome them back to school.
To ensure that students keep their goals in mind throughout the year, I always hang up their goal-setting sheets. I make a big, round circle on bright, neon paper with a template for students to fill in their goals. Once I have had the chance to conference with students, they cut out their circles and hang them in an area of the room. Having all of my students see their goals throughout the year is a constant reminder to strive toward achieving them. (Also, all the bright paper perfectly cut into circles looks super cute as decorations in a classroom!)
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