The start of a new school year is a great time to set an intention for the months to come. The old saying – ‘start as you mean to go on’ certainly applies. Establishing positive relationships is key to the process of teaching and an attempt to build this relationship with academic classes in the early days will usually be rewarded.
Establishing a positive relationship with a tutor group that you don’t spend masses of time with is equally important but it can be challenging for teachers who are trying to navigate the demands of the academic curriculum and administration to have enough time and energy to devote to this additional pastoral responsibility.
To help you out, this year, here are a 10 activities that can be used to help build a positive relationship with a new tutor group.
- Vision board – A vision board is a great tool to be used when setting goals and an intention for the year to come. All that is needed is basic materials such as a pile of magazines, scissors and glue. Encourage students to select words and images that convey how they are hoping to feel at the end of the year and what they are hoping to accomplish both at school and beyond. The finished vision boards can be kept and given back to the students to reflect on at various points of the year. I wrote more about this here.
- Mini time capsule – On day 1 take a photo of the tutor class together and print it. Put it together with student responses to a questionnaire such as the one outlined here in a sealed envelope, to be revisited at the end of your time together.
- Just Dance – get students moving by having an impromptu dance party. Select one of the classic Just Dance videos on Youtube to be your class anthem and get practicing! I particularly love this one.
- Team building activities – set a challenge for teacher allocated groups of students to complete. Inexpensive packs of playing cards can be used to try and build the tallest possible tower or students can see how many of them they can fit on a single piece of A4 paper.
- Mini tournament – have a paper scissors rock championship or a jenga tournament – winners play winners until there is an ‘ultimate’ class champion.
- School charades – classic charades with an academic twist. You can use this basic list of topics or devise one that is specific to your school.
- All about you – Take some time to tell the students things about you that they do not already know – such as where you were born, what your favourite food is, how old you are and basic information about your family as this helps to build those all important relationships.
- Talking stick -use to structure question and answer sessions around the new school year or any other topic you choose. Sit everyone in a circle and pass around a ‘talking stick’ which can be any size or shape. Only the person with the stick speaks. A good starting point for this exercise is what students are worried or excited about or they can be asked to share the best thing that happened to them over the summer. Anyone who does not want to share just passes on the stick when it is their turn.
- Digital quiz tools– If your students have access to devices in the classroom, use a tool like Kahoot to make an interactive quiz – cover a range of topics like school history, school rules, facts about you, facts about the school etc.
- Meditate – Set a timetable for tutor time that includes opportunities to rest and recharge when possible. I find the guided meditations on Headspace particularly helpful to structure quiet time.
Wishing all teaching colleagues a peaceful start to the new school year!