On the first day of rehearsal for most of the plays I have been a part of, we have done ice breaker activities to get to know each other. From “Two Truths and a Lie” to “Cross the Room,” ice breaker activities have always helped me bond with my fellow cast members.
I suppose there has always been a tight bond between cast members. Sometimes, cast members from shows that happened years ago and I still often get together. I suppose I can truly thank the ice breakers for this bond.
Fast forward to my first week of field placement. I am a strange twenty-something in front of a room full of middle-schoolers who have no idea what kind of person I am. As far as they are concerned, I am just another adult in the classroom who they will call “Mr. Fujito” because everyone has a name, and names are what you call people.
But names can sometimes seem meaningless. They are just something people call you. So I decided I would introduce myself to everyone in the classroom. I told them my name, where I go to school, and why I am the strange adult in the classroom who is not a substitute (because their regular, everyday teacher is in the room as well).
While I showed them who I am to me, the name “Mr. Fujito” could literally mean anything to them. It probably means something along the lines of “a teacher who is actually very close to our age” or “that teacher who is really interested in theater,” but alas, I am not able to read minds. My name means something different to everyone in the classroom because each student has their own individual perspective.
You’re probably wondering what this has to do with theater ice breakers. Well, I decided I was not simply going to tell the students who I am. Yes, they need to know me because I am a teacher, but I also want to know them. I am just making a point of how important it is to me that I know my students. That was one of the many mottoes of Dr. Forbes, one of my education professors: Know your students.
I could not have just simply told my name and a few facts about me to my class. So, I had everyone make a name-tag out of note card paper to keep at their desk. On that piece of folded note card paper, I asked them to write their name, a few words describing themselves, and draw pictures of things they like and dislike.
Each student presented their name tag so I could know their names and interests. That was the only icebreaker we did because of time needed to work on the course material, but it was a great way to begin getting to know the students.
While it is still early in my placement, I feel as though I am in a good pace to establish a positive relationship with my students. Now I can use their personal interests to engage them in whatever lessons I plan in the future. Throughout my first week of placement, Dr. Forbes’s motto became my motto. Know your students. It’s as simple as that.