January 27, 2023
“Good morning everyone! Welcome to assembly. We are going to start today with a greeting. Stand up and introduce yourself to someone you don’t know. Tell them your name and one thing you are looking forward to in the new year.” You may not be able to hear the trembling in the voice of this middle schooler as he welcomes the school to a biweekly assembly, but before he went to the front of the gym and grabbed the microphone, he had whispered to me, “I’m really nervous.” In spite of the nerves, he got up in front of the whole school and led the assembly.
We gather together as a Kindergarten through 8th grade community twice a month because being together matters. We sing songs together, play silly games, and learn from one another. This coming together gives our community a chance to feel connected in authentic ways.
Our middle school students are responsible for hosting the assembly. They are supported by a predictable structure– a greeting, announcements, a movement based activity, songs, and a closing activity. Within this predictable structure, they find ways to bring their own personality to their performances. For some middle schoolers, this moment to be in the spotlight is what they have yearned for. They grab the microphone, find their voice, and shine. For others, this spotlight takes a little bit of getting used to. For each and every middle school student, the experience of leading assembly is one of inspiration and growth.
Assemblies provide opportunities for our community to learn from one another. When students have been learning something that they feel the community should know about, they know that assemblies are an opportunity to share that learning. It is also a chance to announce important events coming up, to inspire and engage the whole school.
Inclusion, belonging, and social justice are topics that are woven into the learning that we do together at our assemblies. Fourth grade students shared what they had been learning about Native American land acknowledgement. Students studying Mandarin shared about the Lunar New Year. We also learn through read alouds like Teammates, the story of Jackie Robinson’s life, and Every Month is a New Year, about celebrations of New Years that happen around the world throughout the year.
Perhaps most importantly, ending with a series of knock-knock jokes sends everyone back to their classrooms with smiles on their faces.