We Are What We Do: The Life Of A Deputy Headteacher

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We Are What We Do Erich Fromm Assembly


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This week I spoke in three key stage 3 assemblies at school.

I thoroughly enjoy speaking in assemblies. There is a real opportunity to engage with the entire school community and as a senior teacher, establish and support a school culture for excellence. This week, the theme of our weekly SMSC (Spiritual, Moral, Social, Cultural) calendar is ‘We are what we do,’ a quote by Erich Fromm.

Using this strapline, I designed this school assembly – my first at Quintin Kynaston – and linked this to the values we want all our students to develop; Aspiration and Resilience. These values evolved as a series of student and staff consultations – prior to my arrival – and these words are etched on the lips of every student and teacher.

The assembly:

After a brief introduction, the assembly starts off with this short and simple video:



This is then followed with the main body of the assembly, lasting from 10 – 15 minutes. Throughout the assembly presentation, students are guided through the meaning of actions and values, and how ‘actions can speak louder than words.’ There is a short introduction to Erich Fromm and some of his work, emphasising the importance of ‘what we do’ as the essential core of human existence. There is an interesting video interview here with Fromm explaining how human beings prove (define) who they are.

In the latter part of the assembly, the resource highlights various obstacles we may try to overcome as we grow older and how learning is best achieved when we face challenges. Here, I emphasise the importance of working hard, choosing the harder option, being able to adapt to change and getting the basics right from the start. The assembly resource also focuses and reminds students of our school’s values – you may wish to adapt the resource to suit your own context – and provides a simple definition of each.



There are 36 slides in total and the Powerpoint presentation can be downloaded by clicking the image below.

We Are What We Do Erich Fromm Assembly

Never, Ever Give Up:
  • Intended audience: 5-18 year-olds.
  • Length: 5 minutes
  • Theme: Weight gain, health and determination.

The assembly  – and values – are finally encapsulated in the following video at the end of the resource. I’m sure you will be able to find countless other examples that can be associated with the values of your own school. For me, the video of ‘Aurthur’ is a great lesson on ‘perseverance’ for all of us.

.It was reassuring to hear feedback from staff and students after my presentation. Staff were inspired to read books; others shed a tear. And with most assemblies, the power of conversation can be supported with whole-school assemblies. For me this week, there have already been many conversations had with students in corridors, classrooms and in the playground. I look forward to getting to know our students even better and being able to use our own examples of aspiration and resilience within our own community.

Never underestimate the importance of an assembly.


Of course, none of this would be possible without the use of The 5 Minute Assembly Plan! 

2. The 5 Minute Assembly Plan
2. The 5 Minute Assembly Plan

11 thoughts on “We Are What We Do: The Life Of A Deputy Headteacher

  1. Pingback: Education Panorama (October ’14) by @TeacherToolkit | @TeacherToolkit
  2. Be careful using the video by Sam Pepper. There is some controversy surrounding him and it is worth googling this beforehand.

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