It’s the first day of a new school year, and with it comes an entirely fresh group of students in your classroom.  Each of these children has their own story – their own unique dreams, fears, and goals.

And you know none of them.

Over time, you certainly will uncover these nuggets of information.  But one way to speed up the process is to have students take some time on the first day of class to answer a series of fun icebreaker questions for the classroom.  I have a list that I compiled from speaking with and reading educators and asking them what get to know you questions they ask their new students.

Tip: Have Them Write The Answers Out

Instead of asking the first day of school questions to students out loud, give them a printed sheet and have them write out their responses. It is amazing what you learn about them by asking these questions. Some students won’t verbally tell you what they are prepared to write on paper. Others need the luxury of time to organize their thoughts – time that’s not available when put on the spot in front of a new class full of students.

We have a COMPLETELY FREE handout you can use and change. Just click the button below to download the Word file.

How To Use These Fun Getting To Know You Questions For Students

“Getting to know you” questions are an excellent way to foster positive relationships between students and educators. By asking thoughtful and engaging questions, teachers can create a welcoming and inclusive environment where students feel valued and understood. To make the most of these questions, follow the guidelines below:

  1. Set the Right Tone With Your Icebreaker Questions:
    Begin by emphasizing the importance of open-mindedness, respect, and active listening. Encourage students to approach these questions with genuine curiosity and without judgment. Create an atmosphere where everyone’s perspectives and experiences are valued in your academic setting.
  2. Choose Relevant Questions:
    Select questions that are age-appropriate and relevant to your students’ interests and experiences. Consider the diversity within your classroom and try to include questions that cater to different backgrounds, cultures, and preferences. This will encourage students to engage more enthusiastically and ensure inclusivity.
  3. Create a Safe Space:
    Prioritize creating a safe and non-judgmental environment – this isn’t a debate but student thoughts and feelings. Remind students that their responses are personal, and it is important to respect one another’s boundaries. Encourage students to share only what they are comfortable with and remind them that they can pass on any question they do not wish to answer.
  4. Teachers Should Model Vulnerability:
    Share your own responses to the questions as a way to model vulnerability and encourage students to open up. This will help create a sense of community and show that everyone’s learning experiences and stories are valued.
  5. Active Listening:
    Teach and reinforce active listening skills during the session. Encourage students to focus on the person speaking, ask follow-up questions, and show genuine interest. Foster an environment where students feel heard and understood.
  6. Follow-Up Activities:
    Use the insights gained from these questions to plan follow-up activities that further foster connection and understanding among students. This could include group discussions, collaborative projects, or even guest speakers who can provide additional perspectives on the topics discussed.

By utilizing “getting to know you” questions effectively, educators can cultivate a positive classroom environment that celebrates diversity, encourages empathy, and promotes meaningful connections between students. Creating a safe space for sharing and active listening will help students feel valued, understood, and supported throughout their educational journey. Additional activities such as meaningful report card comments help as well.

Here are 21 questions you need to ask your students.

Quick List of Icebreaker Getting To Know You Questions To Ask Students

1. What name do you like to be called in class?

First things first – what is the student’s REAL name? I found the name on the official class register is not always the name the student prefers. Some students won’t necessarily volunteer this information if not prompted.  Often they would prefer a nickname or a shorter version of their name.  I think anything you can do to make a student more comfortable starting on the first day of school is a quick and easy win, and this is one way of doing just that.

2. What are you looking forward to in school this year?

This question helps set the stage for the upcoming year.  Students automatically reflect on the positive aspects of the previous year. It places them in a positive frame of mind for the school year. You may find out about their favorite subject or something as grand as their biggest dream. Regardless, I am certain the answer will help you get to know this child better.

3. What do you like the least about school?

I believe how a child answers this question can give insight into what the student is battling with at school. The difficulty may be easily resolved or have deeper issues that need to be addressed. Teachers aren’t necessarily aware of the difficulties the student may experience in school if it isn’t directly related to the schoolwork.

4. If you could look back at the end of the school year, how would you describe a successful year? What advice would you give yourself to make it an even better year?

By imagining how a successful year looks like, motivates the student for the year. It also inspires the student to set goals to have a successful year. I think this is a great question for both primary and high school students alike.

5. What can I, as your teacher, do to help you be inspired this year?

The response to this question may spark new ideas for you as a teacher. The answer given may also be the idea that evokes motivation and passion in this student. I found this type of information extremely valuable.

6. Think about your favorite teacher you’ve had so far. What are the characteristics of this teacher that you like?

By focusing on the characteristics and not the person, the student isn’t obliged to mention you as their favorite teacher. They can honestly describe the kind of teacher they relate with best. It is a good exercise for the teacher to know how they can improve to become better teachers.

7. What do you love, are you passionate about, that which you believe strongly in or feel strongly about?

As a teacher, you can better relate to a student if you know what their passion is. In my experience, what they strongly believe could be the key to unlocking their capabilities and transforming them into better students.

8. What is your best quality or greatest strength?

I believe this question allows the student to acknowledge their strength. It gives the teacher the opportunity to focus on the strength and to help the student grow in these qualities.

9. What online software, websites, and apps do you use to help you study and with projects?

It’s surprising how many online tools students use to help them with their schoolwork – it amazes me. This answer gives insight into the most common tools students use. It is an opportunity to incorporate these tools into the classroom framework.

10. What new technology are you interested in trying this year?

I believe this question is a great opportunity to connect technology with education in an engaging manner. Google Drive and OneDrive are useful tools for sharing documents between students, and between teacher and student, for example. I found Edudemic and Educational Technology and Mobile Learning are two resources to assist teachers in using online tools.

11. Which 5-7 words best describe you? How do friends describe you?

These few words provide a wealth of information for the teacher. A student that takes the time to come up with words they think describe themselves is giving you a peek into their soul.  With six words, the student is telling the teacher how they see themselves and who they are.

12. What are your hobbies or interests?

This question is a great way to learn what your student does in their free time. It might be an insight into a favorite movie or video game, or maybe a favorite sport – all of which help you to get to know the student better.

The teacher can motivate the student to engage in these hobbies and interests, especially if possible, to do so at school. I think knowing what interests the student helps in connecting with the student and directing their interest.

13. What stood out for you during your summer holidays? Describe your summer in one to three sentences.

This year might be a little different since one week seems to be a repeat of the last…but in one short sentence, your student will give you insight into their private lives. It might be a most unusual thing – like creating a favorite family recipe.

I think this is one of those icebreaker questions that might reveal something more serious or weighty. They may have experienced a happy or sad event during summer. It could influence their schoolwork. Knowing about it gives you insight into how to help the student.

14. What career(s) would you like to pursue? Give at least one career.

Time to find out more about your student’s hopes and dreams! It’s a fun way to find out their biggest dream since at this age, a career is so far away in the future.

Of course, it’s a little closer for high school students.

The question allows the student to think about their aspiration. I believe it can be helpful in guiding the student toward their future.

15 Would you like to attend college? If so, which colleges are your top three?

Not everyone wants to go to college, and not every career requires a college education. I think the response helps the teacher to inspire the student to aspire to reach these goals.

16. Tell me something you want me as a teacher to know about you.

This question gives the student the opportunity to relay anything they may feel is important for the teacher to know. It may be health issues, study difficulties, emotional trauma, or skills and abilities they excel in.

17. How do you study?

I think this is one of the most important questions to ask. Insight into how the student studies can start to help guide the teacher in teaching students improved study methods. It will also point to how a student would like to learn.

18. If you were the teacher, a leader, or someone who influences society, what would you do differently?

The reply will indicate the student’s aspirations and ambitions in life. It also indicates to what extent the student believes they can make a difference and if they want to.

19. What does your daily life look like? Describe it in 5-7 words.

I love this question. By describing their daily life, the student gives insight into how their lifestyle influences their studies. That which they do consistently describes their values. It also indicates how conscientious they are about homework and studying.

20. What is the most valuable thing anyone has ever told you or what you have read?

The response gives insight into what the student values most, based on what they believe. It also indicates how they will value learning.

21. What does creativity mean to you? Give an example of you being creative.

Creativity is a soft skill that is becoming more and more important for success in society.  These questions create awareness of creativity and the different manners the student is creative.

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