Social Sundays: Back to School

Although it still is summer, for some, the school year is just around the corner. I am excited. New students, new curriculum, new adventures. 

But I am also a little tired thinking about it. So much new. So many meetings. I miss my students from last year, as I do every year.  I always find the beginning of the year a little rough. It's not just that the "lazy" days of summer have disappeared, but it always feels like there is a plethora of bureaucratic tasks: staff meetings, classroom procedures, etc.  The bureaucratic items weigh down on me more at the beginning of the year then at the end, and I realize that is in part due to my relationship with my students. 

At the beginning of the year, I don't know my students, and they don't know me. And with 180+ students over the course of the day, it takes a long time. So a couple of years after I started teaching, I devised a cheat sheet so to speak for my students and I to get to know each other. On the first or second day of school, I give students a self-reflection task to set goals and think about what makes them tick. Later I do some goal setting, and I also use a fun game (all you need is post-it notes - free here).

Students use this reflection to generate an essential list about themselves for me and an art project that becomes part of a class bulletin board for everyone to learn about each other. I participate, too, so that my students can learn essential things about me. I love, love starting the year off this way because:

  1. My students and I connect faster, and they know I care to get to know that them as people which makes everything in my class run more smoothly.
  2. I can greet students by asking them questions related to the cheat sheet which also helps me learn names faster. (Important for me because I am truly terrible at names)
  3. My students start to get to know each other faster through our community project.

Find out what other teachers do to build community in their classrooms and find some great back to school or social studies activities in the links below.

Social Sundays is a weekly post sharing tips, ideas, resources, and products for teaching social studies.  If you have questions or think there is something I should share, you can leave me a message on Facebook or at the store in the question and answer section.



  1. I have a "Why I should care about SS?" powerpoint that I show as a commercial/preview for my favorite subject!! I also have them brainstorm exactly what Social Studies is. Look forward to learning more about how you do goal setting!!

  2. Thank you for doing this! I'm glad to see Social Studies getting more exposure. :-)

    -- Susan
    The ESL Connection


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