Summary : Surviving the first weeks of class, ideas and tips (Feb 02)

Hello everyone,

Our chat about ideas and tips for the first weeks of class was a very good one! Here’s the summary written by our collaborator Aurelio Araujo. Thank you Aurelio!

And thank you all who kindly volunteer to be responsible for writing our summaries. You guys rule!

Summary for the BRELTchat that took place on 2 February 2012.

Although I have been teaching English for over ten years, I confess that despite my experience I still feel anxious when it comes to the first-day of class. To my luck I am not alone.
The first-day of class is crucial for any teacher because since the first impression is the last impression, it is important to bond with the students by building rapport and showing them that they can count on you whenever they need.
For the #BRELTchat that took place on 2 February teachers were invited to share ideas and tips for the first weeks of the semester. The following topics were recurrent: rapport, rules and getting to know each other. The chat was moderated by @brunoELT , @raquel_EFL and guest moderator @shirleyteacher.
As for setting rules,
@Marisa_C RT @llea_dias: RT @llea_dias: Estabilishing routines is REALLY important #breltchat
@daysealbar also asked: Have you got any special ways of setting rules & establishing routines or is it all about showing them Do’S AND Don’ts list? #breltchat
@lelioaraujo @Marisa_C @llea_dias @BrunoELT, apart from establishing routines, learning SS’ names & a little about them is important, as well. #breltchat

In order to establish such rules, I personally like dividing students in groups and giving each group crayons and big pieces of paper. Then I tell them to think about the classroom rules and create a poster in which they will be displayed.
@teresa1999 I do a lot of observation in week #1: lang use, chit chat in class, behavior … change things if necess starting week 2.#breltchat
@lu_bodeman,  I elicit rules from them . They are quite conscientious about it.#breltchat in reply to @shirleyteacher
@harrisonmike with YLs and teens may be a good idea to organise a big time poster project (or glogster) “our class rules” #breltchat discipline from Ss.
@BrunoELT: @lu_bodeman depending on the age, right? adults seem to be more reluctant, though #breltchat > Yep, teens R + into it.
@PriscilaVRangel @Marisa_C Nice! At CI it’s a good idea to read aloud with our sts the ‘Codigo de Conduta’ #breltchat
@michaelegriffin @BrunoELT #breltchat Unsuccessful 1st class? How about a nice long lecture about the rules and the schedule and the assignments? 🙂
@ncguerreiro I use this 2 present classroom lgg. You can turn into a game by showing the pic and eliciting the lgg. #breltchat

When it comes to getting to know each other, and establishing rapport, the following ideas and tips were presented:
@Raquel_EFL Forfeits is a great game – have to guess one fact abt another s if wrong u pay a forfeit #breltchat
@vbenevolofranca #breltchat personalise straight from the off. Ask students to draw pictures of their school, classmates, & use these for communicative tasks
@crisprates quoted @Marisa_C Getting to know sts in dynamic approach, not just asking #breltchat
@shirleyteacher I had them write down a word to describe themselves. #breltchat
@MarisaC mentioned that the book Classroom dynamics has some very nice first class activities!
@llea_dias  in reply to @BrunoELT Never had a prob w/them talking about themselves. They were all engaged. #breltchat
@Raquel_EFL They are supposed to walk around and ask questions about that word. #breltchat
@llea_dias Draw a big bag on the board – divide in 4 pts: ambitions, dreams, hopes, fears – all come up and write sth #breltchat
@shirleyteacher #breltchat get students to recognise realise where they use/see English day to day. A sort of experience analysis of their language
@lelioaraujo @lu_bodeman @Raquel_EFL learning about things SS like, are interested in, etc. This helps me memorise their names #breltchat
@llea_dias1h My SS had a skype meeting with@Room2Chris ‘ this afternoon as a way of GTK each other. #breltchat.
@daysealbar1h “@Raquel_EFL #breltchat Yep! But just like reg lang schools, games r a must.
@teresa19991h @lu_bodeman #breltchat My bible. Jill Hadfield Deals with affection. Just posted a text I came across on facebook. Awesome reading!
@ncguerreiro1h #breltchat true/false game. they write questions about me, n i answer, some of them falsely. they have to spot the wrong 1s. then in trios.
@shirleyteacher1h RT @crisprates:… I like it Cris!! Keep this URL to read later #breltchat
@teresa19991h #breltchat I like activities that promote interaction, guessing and i like Hadfield’s activity “i’m you” to build empathy.
@crisprates said she memorises SS’ names beforehand. @lelioaraujo in reply to @crisprates: after you memorise their names beforehand, what do you do in order to associate the students with their names? #breltchat It was complemented by @shirleyteacher I personally don’t like using name tags to memorise their names… Think it must come naturally with time… 🙂 #breltchat
@Marisa_C A post inspired by ‘Classroom Dynamics’ for First Days (and later) Storming in or Norming out #breltchat
@shirleyteacher RT @ncguerreiro: #breltchat true/false game. they write questions about me, n i answer, some of them falsely. they have to spot the wrong 1s. then in trios.
@crisprates Pass the paper for beginners. Each one draws anything that comes to their minds as different songs are played #breltchat
@Marisa_C @shirleyteacher always try to learn everyone’s name first few mins – ss love this – feel appreciated by T #breltchat
@lelioaraujo in reply to @lu_bodeman @Raquel_EFL and by doing so, you build rapport, which is important during the first classes.#breltchat
@shirleyteacher RT @Gusbarcellos: I’m horrible with names at 1st, so ifIget names wrong the 1st2 weeks, it’s my bad. #breltchathonesty since 1stday! *_*
@daysealbar #breltchat In PublicSchools, little kids love tic tac toe w/ numbers,letters,BIG pictures …
@llea_dias Give SS a card with a number before entering class. Thats the amount of info they need to provide you with.#breltchat
@Marisa_C Draw a plan with names – helps if u cna’t remember easily #breltchat
In reply to @shirleyteacher @lu_bodeman said that: @shirleyteacher Since I create a FB for each group, we “meet” more often and it gets easier to memorize names / faces#breltchat.
@crisprates Great teresa1999 #breltchat@Gusbarcellos In the first classes I challenge them: I say their names. each correct name 1 point for me.
Still in reply to @shirleyteacher, @lelioaraujo: @shirleyteacher, I also create a PPT file with pictures and sentences about me. In groups SS discuss if they’re T/F and why#breltchat. @llea_dias pointed out that she has also done the same with her students.
@GilMattos I use a traditional activity – 3,4 relevant numbers on the board.People ask questions to discover what the numbers mean #breltchat
@lu_bodeman in reply to @llea_dias: There’s always that toilet=paper activity … (which can also be substituted with M n M’s) … #breltchat. In this activitiy, SS get as many strips of toilet paper or M n M’s as they want. The number of strips/M&M’s they have is the number of personal information they are supposed to share with the rest of the class.
@GilMattos Ss complete”I love and I do” I love but I don’t do I hate but I do I hate and I don’t do -others guess who wrote what#breltchat
@shirleyteacher I know an ice-breaker using a box of matches! #breltchat It’s always gr8 fun… (Just don’t use with kids) (^^) In this activity, SS light the matches and they have to speak about themselves until the flame fades away. @shirleyteacher also pointed that in the MATCH activity: as they are worried about the flame,their speech flows (^^)@BrunoELT #breltchat
@crisprates Name Game – in a big circle each st says name and makes some gesture. Next describes the previous #breltchat
@llea_dias in reply to @Room2Chris No personalization at all . SS need to be in a real situation.#breltchat
@shirleyteacher Wow, #breltchat we’ve got a gr8 list of suggestions so far…
For those teachers who want to use the bag: @llea_dias retweeted @MarisaC: Bag can have easier categories for kids Fave Food, drink, game, toy, song etc #breltchat. Still in reply to @MarisaC: @michaelegriffin: Yes…each person had their own “bag” on paper. Then we shared them and left them on the wall for the whole course #breltchat. In reply to @michaelegriffin, @MarisaC: @michaelegriffin variation – each one has a large sheet and draws their ‘suitcase’ – baggage they carry into course #breltchat
@teresa1999 #breltchat I also like music in the first class to set the mood. IWBs are great for this!
@Gusbarcellos I have used a Hello Goodbye, from The Beatles with some teenage sts. They ha to raise a card with the word when they heard it. #breltchat
@crisprates in reply to @lelioaraujo @teresa1999 recommended the use of easy songs. Versions in Eng of famous songs in their own language #breltchat
@GilMattos “@BrunoELT: RT @Raquel_EFL: RT@teresa1999: #breltchat I also like music in the first class to set the mood. IWBs are great for this! >” 🙂
@lelioaraujo 2 create a welcome atmosphere, I like playing music before SS enter. They often comment on the music being played.#dogme moments #breltchat
@teresa1999 #breltchat I show them my favorite song and say why its a favorite. then they do the same.
@lu_bodeman With a begnng group, it’s always good 2 ask them for a word that begins w/ea lettr of alphabet. Ss realize how much they DO know. #breltchat
@amorim_kelly I haven’t started my classes yet but I believe I’m gonna use one of@kenwilsonlondon ‘s activities from “Drama and Improvisation”#breltchat
@Marisa_C Agreat activity which can develop into a longer project – making tribes – tribe name, logo, poem or rap, movement – bonding #breltchat
@franciscoinglez I elicit a few topics, write them ob, and make’em talk about them all, jus to get their English in shape again. #breltchat
@amorim_kelly The name of the activity is “Be someone else”..It’s really dynamic and create a great rapport with students. #breltchat
@daysealbar I have some open boxes scattered around, and pictures spread on the floor. Music on. When I stop it, I say a word, the kid who first finds the picture and put it in the right categorized box, scores a point. It can also be a team game. #breltchat
@lu_bodeman and @llea_dias said that SS can use Facebook to talk about themselves.
@Marisa_C first days are also useful for introducing ss to a range of activities u’ll be using#breltchat i get them to do a survey what they like+/-
@amorim_kelly I love it! RT @BrunoELT: for more intermediate sts, i LOVE this (Yes, and)#breltchat
@ncguerreiro #breltchat use scenes from movies w/ teachers (monalisasmile,pinkpanther,deadpoets) 2 discuss preferred teach/learning techniques
@crisprates @Gusbarcellos I did that. First I let them write questions and put on a bag so I picked them and answered #breltchat
@crisprates in reply to @fionamau This is what I… #breltchat
@lelioaraujo Try out the Human Bingo. Thanx 4 reminding me of @ShellTerrell’s ideas@Raquel_EFL #breltchat
@lelioaraujoFor a list of other useful and easy-2-prepare icebreakers presented by @ShellTerrell, take a look at
@amorim_kelly Some @kenwilsonlondon ‘s activities can be found here! Check them out! #breltchat
@fionamau #breltchat Ah. photos! Love of my life 🙂 Maybe they cld use mobiles day 1 to take class photos > class poster w texts or ‘favourite things’
@GilMattos Have u guys seen this? #breltchat

All in all this #breltchat session was very useful because it presented many ideas on how to build rapport, to set classroom rules, to get to know students and to get students to know their teacher(s). Additionally, there were many useful ideas of activities that will engage students and get them to talk about themselves and use (all) the English they have got.
This summary was written by @lelioaraujo

2 thoughts on “Summary : Surviving the first weeks of class, ideas and tips (Feb 02)

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