The first weeks of school are always difficult for both teachers and students. New class maybe, new faces, different level of what we have taught before... New faces, new characters, maybe we do not know each other. It's a phase of adjustment.
So, after a few "get-to know" games with my students, this is what I do:
We talk about what we want to accomplish the following year. What the students expect from the teacher, what they expect from their fellow students, what they expect from themselves. The teacher also expresses him/herself about what he/she wants to achieve. This conversation can be in English (if the language level of the students is high enough) or even in the native language of the students. I think this is very important, if the class wants to co-operate as a team.
These "future goals" can be written by each student on paper. They can write, sketch, draw, as long as they express their goals. The papers go into small bottles and are hung on a wall or put somewhere, where the students can see them all year long.
When the school year is over, we make a small celebration, we open the bottles, read our goals again, see what we have accomplished, discuss problems and successes and set new goals for the next year.
The bottle is a future message to ourselves ... a way to make ourselves better....