What makes a great assembly?
Put a teacher in a classroom and they do an amazing job teaching, no fears and no worries. Put them in front of a year group or whole school with staff present for an assembly and suddenly there are 100 butterflies in their stomach. Even worrying about falling up those three little steps to the stage becomes an issue!
Love them or hate them, assemblies are on the agenda! I might not be able to take away any potential trip hazards but I can provide a number of ideas that will make presenting assemblies less of a headache and ordeal.
1. Keep announcements short
Assemblies are an important part of the school structure. It is the one time a whole year group or cohort can get together. Remember that announcements should not take over and eat into the time planned for the assembly itself.
Try to avoid starting off with the moans and groans because your assembly will start on a downer. Pupils will soon begin to expect what’s coming and you will lose them before they’ve even walked through the hall doors.
2. Setting the scene
Pupils walk into a darkened room. Quiet music is on in the background as you walk in and suddenly the screen lights up! There is a World War 1 still image on the screen then the music swaps to Leonard Cohen recites Flanders Fields. The room is hooked!
If the assembly is already rolling as pupils enter, it will capture them from the start and can set the tone. Have music playing as they walk in that links with the topic. Put an image on the projector. You could even spray an aroma or use incense.
Make it so that it’s not obvious though because it will keep them guessing! This means they will be wanting to hear you explain and you’ll have their attention right from the start.
So don’t put a title projector page on with the words Assembly on RESPECT. It’s too easy for them to decide they know everything about it and spend the next 20 minutes thinking about their lunch.
3. Make it about you
Speak from the heart. Staff might be bound by a schedule of topics but try and personalise it somehow to you.
Use an anecdote about yourself or someone else (make it up if you have to, assemblies are a great place to dust off those acting skills) to engage the listeners and bring it back to the real world.
4. Add a stimulus
A video clip is a great way to get your message across and engage children. It can be funny, heart-warming or sad and using one gives you a moment to catch your breath or gather yourself and plan what to say next.
You could use a prop or dress up in an outfit that fits in. You could talk about negative words all you like but try and get pupils to put toothpaste back in a tube and they’ll remember that once they’ve said something they can’t take it back. Maybe even get someone else in to do the talking for you. Book a guest who is an expert on the subject.
5. Think beyond the norm
Don’t feel bound by how an assembly traditionally goes either because you can be different. There is nothing stopping you making it interactive and having pupils moving about.
Get them to act out something, answer questions or even play a Kahoot in school houses. Changing the way children sit is also a good idea. Maybe have them all around you to make a point or even change from being at the front to the back. It will make them wonder why and if you can link this with the theme then it’ll stick in their head.
6. Be a bit eccentric
Most of all make it a bit theatrical. You have all eyes on you and you can take it as a chance to be a bit wacky. Pupils will love you for it and it might give them an extra glimpse into another side of you even you didn’t know you had.
Put some of these ideas into practice in your next assembly and let us know how they go!