- What are icebreakers in conversation?
- What are some examples of icebreakers?
- What are good online icebreaker questions?
Starting a tutoring session with a brand new student can be overwhelming for everyone. Here at GoStudent, we believe that the best way to get to know a student is through the lesson itself, but sometimes we know you’ll also need a kickstart. Make your new students more comfortable by showing interest in getting to know them as people before you turn to the learning. Grab a pen as we share all things icebreaker questions!
What are icebreakers in conversation?
Designed as a simple team-building exercise in any environment when a pair or group of individuals are completely new to meeting each other (even strangers), an icebreaker is designed to, almost literally, break the ice! They can turn a cold, anxious group of strangers into being a little more comfortable in a matter of moments.
Icebreaker questions help to create a relaxed learning environment where the student begins to feel more of a shared ownership over the session.
So let’s focus on how it works in tutoring. For a moment in time, with the shared goals of academic progress and confidence, a tutor and student become a team. Interpersonal trust is one of the key components of efficient teamwork. Research suggests two main approaches for trust formation: personal information exchange (icebreakers), and creating a context of risk and interdependence.
What are some examples of icebreakers?
Remote tutoring has a huge range of benefits and can be conducted any time anywhere. But sometimes talking through a screen can mean that getting comfortable takes a little longer. So how can icebreakers help, especially if they’re not in person?
We know that these strategies can be difficult to implement in an online setting, so it’s very important as a tutor to plan your icebreakers and games in advance. Did you know that social games, even online, are just as if not even more effective than icebreakers alone? This is because they foster interpersonal trust.
Virtual classroom icebreakers help students become more comfortable in their classes. Students are then encouraged to remain actively engaged in their virtual classroom which can lead to better progress and a stronger relationship between you as the tutor and your student.
We’ll take on icebreaker questions in the next section, but have you ever considered using icebreaker games? And did you know that 74% of teachers have digital game-based learning to enhance their lessons?
Thinking outside the box and getting students up and moving before a challenging session of study can be the best way to forge a bond. Why not try these in your next virtual session:
- Show and Tell - Between you and your student, bring objects that are important to you to show and tell each other about their significance. Have a favourite childhood book? A travel item? Your pet? Not only does this get students up and moving around, but it’ll also allow them to see you as more than just a face across from them on a screen.
- Scavenger Hunt - This is a great literacy game for younger students who might be nervous to be sitting in front of a total stranger. Make them comfortable by sending them for items to show you around their house, and ensure it’s competitive by setting a time limit, for example, ‘go and collect three objects starting with the letter S’. Because GoStudent allows you to tutor remotely, they’ll know their space really well and feel much more at ease.
- Wordle - Make things fun and get their brains whirring with everyone’s favourite obsession, Wordle! Because everyone in the world has the same word every single day, you could both work together to find the word as you share your screen, or even both open separate tabs and compete! This is a great way to create a shared routine and memories.
- Show a Map - This is as simple as it sounds; find a high resolution, clear map and share your screen with your student. Ask them questions like where are they in the world? Where would they travel if they could go anywhere and why? Showing them the map adds an important visual element, and also takes away the focus from them on screen (this is especially important for neurodivergent or anxious learners who might be conscious of being the only person present in the class).
What are good online icebreaker questions?
Don’t have much time to plan games? Looking for a quick list of questions for when you don’t have much time? We’ve arranged these for you into a few different categories depending on the personality, learning difference or age of the student you are tutoring.
Want funny icebreaker questions? Would You Rather icebreaker questions? Icebreaker questions for primary school students? We’ve got some ready-made for you waiting to be asked.
Funny icebreaker questions
- Where would you time travel, if it were possible?
- If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?
- If you were the captain of a pirate ship, what would be the name of your ship?
- How long would you last in a zombie apocalypse?
- Who is your favourite cartoon character?
- What is your favourite ice cream flavour and ice cream topping?
Would You Rather icebreaker questions
- Would you rather live in the ocean or on the moon?
- Would you rather have invisibility or flight?
- Would you rather give up your smartphone or your computer?
- Would you rather be the funniest or smartest person in the room?
- Would you rather be an Olympic gold medallist or an astronaut?
- Would you rather travel back in time and meet your ancestors or travel forward and meet your descendants?
Icebreaker questions for kids
- Do you have any pets? What are their names?
- What is your spirit animal? (The animal who is most similar to your personality.)
- What is your favourite animal?
- What is your favourite magical or mythological creature?
- What is your favourite sweet? Why?
- What are you most excited about doing in the holidays?
Personality icebreaker questions
- What is your favourite hobby?
- What is your favourite sport or physical activity?
- What crazy activities do you dream of trying someday?
- What are your two best traits?
- What is one thing you want older generations to know about teenagers today?
- What is your best new idea for an invention?
Remember that icebreaker questions aren’t enough on their own to make students fully trust you and feel comfortable, they’re just the start! Use virtual icebreaker questions to get your students talking about something they like and enjoy so they can begin to feel more comfortable, then segway into your lesson.
They don’t have to just be used in your very first session with a student, either. Keep coming back to them in intervals, for example after a set of holidays or even just on Mondays or the first session of the week! When you feel students need to wake up a bit or are slipping further into their seats, then launch a virtual classroom icebreaker to bring them back into a productive learning space.
Your well-planned lesson will then invite them to trust in you as a teacher and a tutor, and then remember to come back to the precious information they’ve shared with you throughout the lesson and the ones afterwards to show you care. They’ll be seriously impressed!