There’s nothing quite like the very first moment of the first day of school. You stand at the front of the classroom or webcam, looking at all those expectant faces for the very first time. Now’s your chance to introduce yourself to your students, to let them know who you are and what they can expect over the year to come. How can you make it special?
We asked teachers from our TopEducation HELPLINE group on Facebook to share their favorite ways to help their students get to know them better. Here are their responses, along with some of our other favorite ideas. There are options here that work both in person and online, so no matter what your classroom looks like this year, you’re sure to find some inspiration!
1. 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.” Heather U. expands this by having her kids write back. “I have my students write me a letter every year, and I use my letter to them as a model.”
2. Decorate a Bitmoji virtual classroom
Your classroom has always been a reflection of your personality, and a great way to introduce yourself to your students. So what happens when your classroom becomes virtual, as is the case for so many teachers this fall? No problem! You’ve still got a lot of ways to personalize your teaching space. Bitmoji classrooms are one of our favorite options. Learn how to create one here.
3. 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.
4. Introduce yourself in a movie
It’s a bit more work, but teachers point out that you can use these to introduce yourself again and again. Plus, a movie works in both regular and virtual classrooms. Many teachers already have access to iMovie on their school computers. Learn how to use it here.
5. Draw a name map
Mapping is an excellent writing strategy, and you can teach the concept early on with a fun name map. Create one to introduce yourself on the first day of class, then have your students do the same. Learn more from Teach With Me.
6. 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.” Teaching virtually this year? Make it a slideshow instead!
7. Hold a scavenger hunt
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!
8. Let them do the math
Sneak a little math review into your teacher introduction with this clever idea! Come up with a series of facts about you that can be represented in numbers, then turn those into math problems. This works at a variety of grade levels, and kids always get such a kick out of it! Learn more from The Magnificent Fourth Grade Year.
9. Introduce yourself with a quiz
First-day quizzes are a really popular way to introduce yourself to students. Kahoot! even has an easy-to-customize template just for getting to know your teacher!
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 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.”
10. Put together a name tent
Name tents work in traditional or virtual classrooms. In an in-person classroom, prop this on your desk for the first week or so. Online, post the image during breaks or leave it on the corner of the screen. (Kids can do this activity too!) Learn more from Spark Creativity.
11. Give them the scoop on you
Is there any cuter way to introduce yourself to your students? If you really want to guarantee yourself the “best teacher ever” award, you could have an ice cream sundae party to go along with it! Learn more from True Life I’m a Teacher.
12. 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.”
13. 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!
14. Play Red Light, Green Light … getting-to-know-you style
Here’s a fun twist on the classic “Two Truths and a Lie” (another teacher introduction favorite). Line kids up on one end of the room or playground. Stand on the other side, and make a statement about yourself. If students think the statement is true, they take one step forward. If they’re wrong, they go back to the start! The first student to reach you is the winner. Learn more about this unique way to introduce yourself from Rulin’ The Roost.
15. Write an autobiographical poem
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. Show them you’re one part of the puzzle
Use this cute idea to introduce yourself and create a terrific back-to-school bulletin board all at once! Personalize your puzzle piece with pictures or facts about yourself. Have kids do the same, and put all the pieces together to make a terrific mural for your classroom. Learn more from Supply Me.
17. Assemble 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. “I made one for myself and I introduce myself to the whole class using mine.” If you really want to get creative, make your collage in the shape of your silhouette. Learn how from Kix. (This works online too—try it using Padlet.)
18. 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. Make it even more fun by adding photos from your life!
19. Introduce yourself on Flipgrid
Flipgrid is the best interactive tool you’re not using yet. It allows teachers and kids to record and safely post short videos … and it’s completely free! Record a Flipgrid video to introduce yourself to students, then have them do the same. Whether you’re teaching in person or online, this is such a fun way for everyone to get to know each other.
20. Craft a get-to-know-you cloudburst
This simple and colorful craft lets students know what’s important to you. Have them make their own so you can get to know them too. Hat tip to GuysTeachToo on Instagram for this idea.
21. Write a mystery box essay
Dawn M. explains, “I put 3 items that represent me in a bag, and use it to teach the 5 paragraph essay format. 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.
22. Pop an emoji bubble
We love this clever little game that works with Google Slides and is perfect for virtual or traditional classrooms. Students pick an emoji and “pop” the bubble, and you answer the question to tell them a bit about yourself. Kids can play too! Get the game from SSSTeaching on Teachers Pay Teachers.
Now that they know you, you need to get to know them! Here are some great active icebreakers to get them up and moving.
Plus, 15 Ways to Virtually Welcome Kids Back to School.