Icebreakers: Let Them Happen Naturally


Mark David-Magat

First day feels

Anxiety goes through the roof when students hear that is time for class to do icebreakers. Several students and teachers believe that icebreakers are not the best way to start a semester. Icebreakers are simple questions asked by teachers to students in order to take off some of the pressure of starting a brand new class.

For returning students, the first day of the semester can be the least stressful day, but for those who hate public speaking, it can be the worst. The first day of class usually goes by quick because students usually just read the syllabus and learn about the professor. The first day of class is pretty much the preview of the class, getting caught off guard with the simple question of “Find someone and tell them one interesting fact about yourself” can cause some students anxiety because they can’t think of what to say, or think that their answer will be judged by others.

“I think icebreakers, as they are commonly done, are inauthentic, and students kind of sit there, and there is an awkwardness about it and I’m seeing heads bobble,” Professor Jarrod Feiner of Skyline’s first year program said concerning why icebreakers might not be the best way to start a semester.

“I think icebreakers can and should happen in an organic way – we can break the ice, but do something in service of the class… Like tour the campus together, to do something where it helps people know you. There’s a point to it – that they’re learning something, they’re getting there, they’re connecting – that’s important in classroom communities,” Feiner continued.

Forcing students to speak and think of interesting topics on the spot can be nerve-racking, and letting these comfortable moments just happen can really help a nervous student.

“There’s other ways to do it, other than the way that they’re done, and I just don’t like those at all when I’m in meetings – I will audibly groan because it (icebreakers) is like busy work. And it’s just – I get the point, but you can do it in a way where it’s gonna benefit the class, where they’re learning something out of it,” said Feiner.

Feiner concluded by saying that even though his time of being a student has passed, the dread surrounding icebreakers still follows him today. It is not only something that takes place in a classroom environment – it can happen anywhere.

“As an introvert, it is really hard on me when I hear those questions where I need to find an interesting fact about myself, and I believe it is not good enough to be shared,” said Jose Gonzalez, who’s currently in his third semester at Skyline. “It does happen on the first week of class, and once it is over with, I forget it ever happens… But that moment just sucks – I just overthink it all.”

Gonzalez feels that forcing to share fun facts will not build new friendships. He believes that the fact that you and your classmates are taking the same class together can slowly create new friendships.

“I feel like it is an age thing, to like it. It totally works for elementary students, but for college kids, you need to do it in an organic way,” said student Miku Mendoza. “I’m all about making friends and whatnot, but I want to do it in a more organic way.”

Teachers do it to ease the pressure of a brand new semester, but most students believe it can add even more pressure to the semester. What students need is a more organic school environment that takes away the stress of the beginning of the semester, not a question forced upon them that many cannot enjoy.