It should feel like a community, like a gathering of like-minded friends committed to the same goal.
It should feel like a group complete with inside jokes. You walk in, and everyone knows your name. They might even know where you've been and where you're going next. There's a freedom of expression, a sigh of relaxation, and an ease of togetherness.
When this doesn't happen by the end of September in my classes, I amp up the following (besides fervent prayer for community):
1). Treats! Treats of all kinds to share--whether coffee, candy, or baked goods--create community as we're all eating together.
2). The teacher (or leader) should share even more about herself. Show family pictures. Play favorite songs. Describe professional projects, life outside of class, and hobbies. Do this more and more.
3). Talk about what everyone's watching or listening to, what news they care about, or what kind of places they enjoying going on campus. Agree to all watch or listen to the same things. Maybe everyone's going to watch the same television show and talk about it before class. Maybe everyone will follow the same news story.
4). More name games! Yes, even more name games. I include my updated list below.
I hope these tips help your classrooms and groups this week.
50 Name Games! Enjoy!
1. What is the most interesting course you have ever taken in school?
2. What is your favorite quotation?
3. What is one item you might keep forever?
4. What were you known for in high school? Did you have any nicknames?
5. If you could have witnessed any event in sports history, what would it be?
6. What is something you consider beautiful?
7. What was your first CD or song you played over and over again?
8. What accomplishment are you most proud of?
9. If you could be an apprentice to any person, living or deceased, from whom would you want to learn?
10. What are three things that make you happy?
11. What's one movie you think everyone should see? What's a movie you think nobody should see?
12. Who inspires you?
13. What's one thing you want to do before you die?
14. Get in groups of three people. What's the most bizarre thing you have in common?
15. Whenever you are having a bad day, what is the best thing you can do to help cheer yourself up?
16. Have you ever experienced something unexplainable or supernatural?
17. What was your best Halloween costume?
18. What’s the last item you purchased?
19. What was the last thing you Googled?
20. What YouTube video do you watch over and over?
21. What's the kindest act you've ever witnessed?
22. Tell us one thing you know you do well (a talent?) and one thing you know you cannot do.
23. What is your favorite way to procrastinate?
24. What is your favorite home-cooked meal?
25. What was your favorite childhood toy?
26. What do you do other than study? What clubs are you involved in?
27. What was your first job?
28. Have you met a famous person? Who?
29. What's the story behind your name?
30. Do you believe in anything that most people might not believe in?
31. I wish everyone would___________________
32. What's the best sound effect you can make?
33. What's the funniest thing you did as a kid that people still talk about today?
34. What idea do you think is worth arguing about?
35. Tell us something quirky about you.
36. For what reason do others often seek your help or input?
37. Share your guilty pleasure (something you enjoy that embarrasses you—like watching Disney Channel)?
38. What is one thing that’s important for others to know about you?
39. Do you still do anything today that you also loved to do as a child?
40. Do you have any daily rituals?
41. What is the most misunderstood word you can think of?
42. What is the first book you remember changing you somehow?
43. Pass on one piece of wisdom to the class.
44. Do you have an irrational fear or strange addiction?
45. What’s been the most surprising thing about college?
46. What is your biggest pet peeve?
47. Tell us about any animal friends you have.
49. What’s something new you’ve learned this week?
50. What thought keeps you up at night?