You know what it is like come September. New faces in the class, new fears, new ambitions, new habits, and behaviours. The first few lessons with your students is key to make that initial connection and to then gel as a class. Standard procedure is really quite simple; you stand and introduce yourself. I have personally seen this hundreds of times. While being a low risk strategy and predictable, I have often asked myself, do students feel engaged? Will they want to share their own experiences? How can it made to be more interactive?
Storytelling as a tool for social bonding
According to this HBR article, it claims that your brain loves storytelling, as evolution has made it part of our survival technique. It also claims that it stimulates group voluntary behaviour, which then lowers stress and so encourages cooperation. This can be easily adapted to your class by simply telling them a story.
I often talk about my travels in and around the Far East, the people I met, the places I saw and what I ate. After the talk, I ask them to get into groups and for them to share their best travel story. I then mix them up into new groups and then ask them to recall what I had previously said and what people in the previous group said. Great for short term memory building and getting to know each other.
Two truths and a lie
If talking about yourself directly seems too personal, then you can use a simple true of false game. Using a board or just talk to your students tell them three things about yourself. With two being true and the other a lie. Their task is to guess which is the lie by asking you questions, and the powers of deduction.
The next time you have a new class give these two tricks a try and see what happens.