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Icebreakers, do better

| Friday, January 17, 2020

‘Tis the seasons of trials, tribulations and icebreakers. Not much can be done to improve your trials or tribulations, but if there’s one thing we can do, it’s improve the first day of class by improving the quality of classroom introductions. I have some suggestions.

(I know what you’re thinking: “Maria, why are you writing this? Students have no control over what icebreakers they’re forced to participate in!” Don’t worry, dear reader. I know. This column is for professors. If your classes have already begun, I’m sorry this wasn’t out sooner. Please take notes for upcoming semesters. There may be a quiz on this sometime soon … who’s to say?)

Don’t get me wrong. It’s great to hear someone’s name, major and fun fact, but we can do better. After all, we live in a society. Read on for my upgrade suggestions — yes, they’re free.

Everyone takes the same Buzzfeed quiz and shares their results. 

The best way to get to know someone is to discover what emoji mashup they are, obviously. This will definitely set you apart as a professor, and everyone will care way more about your class.

Discuss some boy bands.

Everyone has a favorite. Don’t lie. Plus, you’ll find out which of your students had a One Direction phase. This is an indicator of who will be the best and the most deserving of an A.

Guess your neighbor’s name.

Don’t think too deeply about this one. Everyone’s name is either Michael or Grace. Your mental seating chart will be set. Next.

Share a favorite pop culture moment.

An example? Fergie singing and doing cartwheels. You know what I’m talking about. It’s important. This is also a great way to figure out who should be partners for future group work.

What year was the best for those New Year’s glasses?

I must admit, 2020 really brought it in this category (ha ha ha, 2020 vision joke). But really, 2013 had some amazing pairs. The fashion world was forever changed. I don’t think this will help anything in the classroom besides give you the opportunity to make a bad pun.

Which Cards Against Humanity white card will you always pick?

No matter the context, “altar boys” will always be the winning card when I’m the judge. Sorry, in this case, I do make the rules. This will set the stage for some fun classroom discourse and give you a great segue into an interesting-in-theory class project.

What’s your favorite Observer memory?

There’s nothing better than reminiscing about the ever-present hot takes in the Viewpoint section. This option comes with a twist! Whoever mentions the leggings letter gets to share three fun facts about themselves! This also comes with a teaching moment centering around media literacy. Have fun!

What would your presidential pet be?

I’m sure most people would say dogs, but this would be a nice break for students who have had to think of fun facts their whole lives. Who knows? You may find someone who steps outside of the box and says a cat or something. So many avenues here.

Finally, what’s your favorite tweet from @mleontaras?

This section serves no purpose other than promoting my Twitter. Make of that what you will.

I hope this column provided some inspiration to spice up your first week of classes or club meetings or anything you may need an icebreaker for. We’re always thinking of ways to better the collegiate experience here at The Observer. Until next time.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Maria Leontaras

Maria Leontaras is a senior at Saint Mary's pursuing a student-designed major in Interactive Journalism with minors in mathematics and Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. Maria used to serve as the Editor-in-Chief of The Observer when she wasn't busy tweeting about movies and One Direction.

Contact Maria