This lesson won't alleviate all your back-to-school anxiety, but it will buy you a bit of extra time to complete the preparation you should have finished over the summer.
The lesson objectives are, of course, for the pupils to learn each other's names, but also to encourage group identity and teamwork. You need everyone in a circle, so the lesson is best conducted in a clear open space (failing that, get students to arrange desks in a rough circle).
Challenge each pupil to come up with a superpower and explain how they would use it and what for. Everyone then repeats the student's name with the power, for example: "Dave, teleporting".
Now get a few pupils to try to juggle. You can use juggling balls, rolled-up socks or anything that can be thrown without causing damage to people or property.
After a bit of practice, the main activity begins. One pupil throws the ball to another pupil across the circle, saying the name and power of the receiver. Each time the ball is thrown it must go to someone who has yet to catch it. Continue until everyone has received the ball once, then do it again, making sure the same pattern as before is repeated (the thrower passes the ball to the same person as they did the first time).
It may take another try but pretty soon everyone will remember who they are throwing to. Now get them to do it again, but add in another five balls incrementally so several are going round at once.
Chaos will ensue. Analyse why. Encourage the students to think about whether people spoke unnecessarily, mucked about or lost concentration.
Lay down ground rules, then repeat until the class is working together, juggling the balls between them with no errors.
A great plenary activity is to get the class to take their superhero identities and, in groups, create a story with them, either written, acted or drawn as a storyboard.
Rob Messik is a secondary drama teacher at Brighton College
To download resources for this assembly, visit: bit.lyIcebreaker24July