It’s that time of the year that all students despise. It is indeed time to go back to school, and we are all aware of all the participation activities we are going to have to do on the first day. First days are typically very stressful and being put into awkward situations by teachers just adds to the stress. Usually, certain activities do help students to get comfortable around the classroom and get to know their classmates. However, sometimes they may do the opposite. If you suffer from social anxiety, you will especially relate to this.
Many students don’t like to be in situations where they are surrounded by strangers. Although fun games and activities can help them make new friends, they would much prefer it if it wasn’t forced. Here are some classroom activities that I dread and why they need to be stopped.
1. fun fact about yourself
When I’m put in a room of strangers, I automatically forget everything about myself. This particular activity causes extreme distress because you are going to overthink about what you’re going to say and by the time it’s your turn, you’re just staring into space. It is difficult to talk about yourself to those who don’t know, so sharing “fun” facts can be daunting. Instead of having students share it out with the whole class, they can start by talking to the person next to them. That will be less scary and more enjoyable.
2. two truths and a lie
If you can’t share a fun fact about yourself, you also cannot come up with 2 facts and a lie. Whenever I’m required to participate in this activity, I just cannot make up a lie. Or I can’t decide which “truth” to say. Nevertheless, it is fun to guess others’ answers and it is never fun when it’s your turn.
3. Going around the class and introducing yourself
Any activities that involve getting up from your seat and moving around the class need to be stopped. On the first days, we are all scared and uncomfortable. Fundamentally, this is not a good way to make friends. Friendships should come in a flow. When you have to introduce yourself to others like you are in Pre-K, it can put us in an embarrassing situation, which in turn doesn’t help us to become friends.
4. Stand in a line based on your Birthday
This one is probably the most frustrating one. Not only do you have to get up from your seat to stand in a line, but you also have to ask around for their date of birth and figure out where you need to stand. This, again, is really unhelpful. In addition, it takes up a lot of class time because most students refuse to cooperate.
Needless to say, since these activities are very uncomfortable, teachers should try to let students just engage with each other in their own ways or come up with better ideas. Here are some actual “fun” activities that may help students get along.
'Would you Rather' - This can be done in small groups or even with a partner. It’s less overwhelming and can be fun too.
Student Surveys - Instead of letting students make new friends on the first day, teachers can do a student survey where each student talks about their likes and dislikes or about their interests. There could be a “How I like to learn” survey as well.
Kahoot - This is great because it doesn’t involve speaking or moving around. It can be based on a common topic or class-related lessons.
Some students have already started school and some are going to start in a few weeks. Therefore, we are all thinking about how the first day is going to go. Especially if you are going to a new school, you will be more worried than others. The first day is going to be very different this year because we are going back in person after 1 and a half years of practicing remote learning. There will be a lot to deal with, such as in-person learning, socializing, making new friends, etc. regardless of what you’re stressed about. I hope everyone has an easy and laid-back first day of school. Good luck!