Relationship Building / Introductory Activities

Starting Out on a Good Note

Relationship Building / Introductory Activities

First impressions are important. They set expectations and create a context for the experiences that follow. When beginning a new WhyTry class or group, the first day is always critical, and usually challenging.

To help with the first few times you meet, WhyTry has prepared a series of relationship building activities and strategies to help establish that positive culture and an environment conducive to a good social emotional learning approach

Things to Consider when Beginning a New Group or Class

Relationship Building / Introductory Activities


How is the room set up?  Is it as comfortable and inviting as the setting allows?  Is the group small enough to arrange the chairs in a circle?  Don’t strain yourself. Just give it some thought and do the best you can.

Part of the setting is music. Music should be playing when the students enter the room.  You can play pretty much anything, but preferably something they like. When they walk into a room and music is playing, it tells them something different will be happening in that room. 


Stand in the door and greet the students. Greet the ones you know by name.  After the students are seated, you may want to briefly introduce yourself, or it may be more powerful to have everyone stand up and get right into an activity.

Pre Assessments:

If you plan to use a pre and post assessment to track improvement such as our WhyTry Measure R, we recommend that you deliver that as soon as possible at the beginning of the first day. This will provide you with the most accurate measurement of the impact that teaching WhyTry and the relationship you create has on your students.
Click here for a full list of assessment resources

Relationship Building Activities:

Pick one or two of the following relationship building activities and do them as part of your first few lessons.


This is the time to introduce the WhyTry Program. Below are some of the important things to cover. (15 min.)

Introduce yourself:

Let the students know a little about you. Share appropriate information to let them see you as a person.


Emphasize that confidentiality is required for this class. Sometimes things will come up that should not be discussed outside of class.

Class expectations:

Explain what the class is about. Try to remove any stigma associated with the class. You might tell them that this class is intended to help them enjoy school a little more and they will learn some ways to “work the system” better. You might also frame the class as a leadership development course, since some schools use it that way.

You may want to tell them that this class will be different from any other class. They may do things they don’t get to do in other classes.  Many students say that the WhyTry class is their favorite class.  The WhyTry class is usually a lot of fun, but it is not always easy. Everyone’s participation is needed to make it work. 

Class Rules / Life Rules Discussion

(10 min)

You may want to set up some class rules / life rules. Remember when we establish new rules it’s important to explain the “why” of each rule. This helps students see that not only is this an import rule for our class but also an import thing in our life. Have the students suggest some rules to create an environment of respect. No need to get elaborate.  Here are some typical rules:

1. Eye Contact – Class members (including the teacher) must make eye contact with the teacher and each other when they speak. 

2. Gratitude – Class members must express gratitude for everything they receive and every courtesy shown.

3. Respect – Class members will treat one another with respect, by listening when anyone in the class speaks, making eye contact, and expressing gratitude.

Student Info Survey

(10 min) 

You may want to have students fill out the student info survey. This will provide you with important information about each student to give you some insight into their passions, interests and personality. You may want to attach a photo of each student to these surveys to help you in learning their names and to keep for a reference as you continue to teach the class. As you make observations and learn things about your students through out the semester or year, it’s good to add notes to these sheets and keep track of what you are learning about your students. Remember the more you know about them the better you can find ways to connect to them, surrender the one-up relationship and show that you truly care!

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