School assemblies are held to bring larger segments of the elementary school population together to share information, provide a face-to-face venue for important announcements and foster a sense of community within the school. Assemblies may be school-wide, if space and fire regulations permit, or held for target audiences of primary, middle-school or junior-high students, as indicated by age-specific agenda topics. As school principals are sometimes off-site or engaged in board-wide meetings, teachers are periodically asked to conduct school assemblies. Following a few guidelines for conducting school assemblies makes the task less daunting.
Create an agenda of the topics that will be covered during the assembly. Ensure that agenda topics are geared toward your target audience. Include date, time and location of the event so classroom teachers can adjust their schedules accordingly.
Send a copy of the agenda to all teachers who will have students attending the assembly. This will allow teachers to discuss with their students the purpose of the gathering and review the rules for proper decorum during the session. Include the signal that will be used for attention and quiet, i.e. a raised hand followed by shared silence.
Advise teachers to wait for an announcement before bringing their students to the gym or auditorium. This will avoid crowding in the hallways and allow you to carry out your planned order of arrival and exit strategies.
Request that one class or group of older students in the school be assigned to set up the physical space to accommodate the students that will be in attendance at the assembly. This may include gym mats positioned for younger students and A-V equipment needed for the meeting. This responsibility should be rotated among senior classes.
Ask older students to bring their own classroom chair when prompted to come to the gym. This will avoid the need for time-intensive seating setup if you do not have a school auditorium.
Use the public address system to call the students to the gym class by class. Call the oldest students first and allow them to get in and settled before calling the next class. The littlest ones should come last and sit in the front to accommodate short attention spans and line of sight requirements.
Assign older students to hold the doors and monitor the lights for A-V use as required.
Ask for attention from all using your prearranged signal. Restate the purpose of the assembly and the expected rules of behavior.
Remind the group of emergency exit procedures. Students should be evacuated youngest to oldest in a quiet, orderly manner through the nearest safe exit. This should be practiced during the first school assembly for future reference as required.
Proceed with your agenda. Provide a stretch break if your meeting will last longer than 30 minutes. The youngest students and older ones with attention challenges will need the time to refocus. After the assembly, have the students return to their classrooms beginning with the youngest students and moving chronologically through the classes.
- Praise good behavior during assemblies. Students appreciate positive reinforcement.
- Pair older students with younger ones who may need to escorted from the assembly due to special needs.
- If students become restless, repeat your attention signal and provide a stretch break.
- Never overcrowd an assembly hall or gym. Fire regulations regarding the number of people allowed in a space are intended for the safety of all.
- Back to school! image by Alexey Klementiev from Fotolia.com