Presenting an assembly for any teacher can be an extremely daunting task. Many pastoral leaders who spend a great deal of their time successfully dealing with managing behaviour in group or one to one sessions have many a sleepless night before “performing” in front of a whole year group.
In some schools, the trend has been for form tutors and a senior member of staff to “manage” the pupils whilst the assembly is “delivered” by the presenter: an element of group management may well remain necessary, but this section of the course is designed to help you develop your presentation skills so that your audience enjoys and is thoroughly engaged with your assembly.
To tell an effective story, listen to your audience…..
We know from experience that pupils can be a harsh audience! Why do pupils engage wonderfully with their favourite KS2 teacher, yet behave like monsters when the “supply teacher” is covering for her absence? If we explore this a little further, it may help to eliminate some barriers when planning the assembly….
Pupils respond well when:
• The work is well planned and interesting
• The work is relevant
• There is good rapport between teacher/pupil
• It is fun!
• It is entertaining!
Pupils do not respond when:
• The teacher does not know them or make an effort to engage on a personal level
• The work is not relevant and/or dull
• They do not have the skills to carry out the work
• The pace and tone is slow and monotonous
Let us consider, then, using the very best elements of your lesson planning and delivery when preparing you assembly.
Planning Your Assembly
Consider the following points when planning your assembly
• What is the theme of your assembly?
• Are there any links that can be made to prior learning, events or experience?
• What points will you focus on and how?
• Rationalise your content and make sure it flows
• Do you need any prompts to keep pupil attention on the focus?
• How will you start/end your assembly?
• What thoughts do you want people to have in their mind when they leave?
• How will pupils know what the key messages are?
• How have you catered for, essentially, an extremely large and mixed ability class!
• Thank your audience
Having planned your assembly with great care, you now need to consider how you will present it!
Generally speaking, in an assembly, pupils are expected to sit and listen attentively for a fairly lengthy period of time…. yet we would not deliver our lessons in this way! Try to help pupils with this skill by making the assembly interesting to watch and listen to.
Practice your presentation carefully, not just in the privacy of your own home, but in the actual venue. Ask a friend to watch you, stand in various parts of the hall and give feedback on the following points:
• Non-verbal indicators (body language, hand gestures, nerves….)
Time your presentation, but be prepared to respond flexibly to your audience e.g., pauses for effect need to be long enough to illicit a response, but not so long they slow the story down and pupils get restless.
Never READ your story
Listening to someone telling a story is totally different to listening to someone reading it, and your audience will respond accordingly! (KS1/2 teachers are usually very good storytellers!).
The last thing you want is for your storytelling sounds more like someone reading a speech – a sure fast way to a fidgety and difficult audience!
View your delivery of your assembly as a dramatic “performance”.
Each time you tell your story, you should learn more about its effectiveness; which parts worked better than others? Which sections elicited the best response? Was this down to content or delivery?