Do you remember the days when school was fun and the gyms were packed with school pride? I believe one of the most important factors in operating a great school is school culture and the strong relationships within the school. According to a 2015 Gallap poll only 32% of Juniors in school feel like they are engaged. An edweek.org blog also stated that 44% of new teachers that enter the profession will leave teaching within their first 5 years.
One way to cultivate school culture is by holding monthly assemblies in the gym with your staff and student body. After hosting monthly assemblies for three years as an administrator I'm surprised that more schools don't invest the time to cultivate their culture. Here are some of the benefits of hosting monthly assemblies:
1) Increased culture: We were able to teach kids what we wanted from them every month by highlighting all the positives that our students and staff were doing on a regular basis. It was a great way to reinforce the positives and build off of our daily PBIS system that we incorporated in our building.
2) Decreased student absences: One trend I picked up on (thanks to my rock-star secretary) over a few years of hosting our school assemblies was that our attendance rates on assembly days were near perfect. Students knew when our assemblies were, they enjoyed them, and they didn't want to miss them.
3) Improved student discipline: All administrators have had their fair share of student discipline issues some more than others. Over the years of hosting assemblies I've always enjoyed the fact that I've never had a student write up or behavior problem during an assembly. And our frequency of student write-ups on assembly days dropped significantly.
4) Positive Public Relations: Post your school assembly pictures on Facebook and share all the positives with your school community. Showing parents that students are having a blast and building great memories in your school will foster positive relationships with the community and give your parents something to talk about with their children
Depending on your school culture and how traditional schools have been operating for decades monthly assemblies can seem like an uphill battle. You might receive push back that you are taking away instructional time from the students and teachers. I would agree with that; however, I would argue that the improved culture with students feeling better and teachers feeling better that you will receive better results and the time spent will be well worth it. Here are some ideas for you to hit the road running for your first assembly:
1) Create a template and stick to it
2) Reward what you value in your school from academic success on state tests to students/staff helping each other out
3) Recognize students in sports and clubs (research shows that student who participate in extra-curricular activities are more successful). Student and athlete of the month are also good ideas.
4) Recognize your staff this will show your students that staff and teachers are super important and valued
5) Bring in guest speakers to spice up your monthly assemblies and keep the momentum going. Some of my favorites include BMX bikers, hypnotist, gold medalist, and motivational speakers.
There are many templates that you can use that best fits your school, but the most important thing is to take the leap and start having fun in your school. Your students and teachers will appreciate it.
Blog written by Andy Jordan