"Rise and Shine With Morning Assembly"
Do you have students and staff members you don't see everyday? Reconnect with your entire school "family" at the beginning of each day in the way that many schools across the country do -- with a "morning assembly." Administrators say a well-organized assembly establishes a positive tone for teachers and students and encourages community involvement, without cutting into precious instructional time.
|Classes ready for a.m. assembly. Note that classes sit in vertical rows. That way, at the end of the assembly, classes flow smoothly from the all-purpose room. Photo: Education Week|
Outline of Morning Assembly
Scott Hollinger and his staff are committed to the entire morning assembly agenda. Their gathering includes several parts:
- Lively music plays as students gather.
- The national anthem is sung.
- The participants recite the Pledge of Allegiance and a pledge to the Texas state flag.
- A moment of silence is observed.
- Students read the day's announcements.
- Student and teacher achievements are recognized.
- The group sings "Happy Birthday" to individual students and teachers.
- A whole-group choral singing is conducted.
"We talk often about building community in a school, but just as often, the youngest children and the oldest children in a school never even see each other," Scott Hollinger explained. "They have vastly different lunch schedules, physical education schedules, and recess times. When we all meet together in the gym every morning, the entire school is present. All the children can see each other. All the teachers can see each other. We're all involved in the same activity and having a shared experience."
Hollinger, a principal at IDEA: Quest College Preparatory School in McAllen, Texas, discovered "morning assembly" through a conference he attended in 1999. He brought the practice back to the elementary school he was leading at the time and worked with leaders of the school community to adapt it for the building.
At the start, the assemblies were conducted in an outdoor pavilion area. Although that required carting a sound system outside each day and putting up with strong wind and blowing dust, Hollinger and his staff found that the benefits far outweighed the frustrations. Eventually, an activity building was constructed and the entire student body met indoors each day -- in air-conditioned comfort.
Morning assembly was so successful at the school he led at the time that Hollinger institutes the practice wherever he goes.
"The daily repetition of this sharing begins to build in all of us a history of shared experiences," stated Hollinger. "This is what a shared culture comprises. It is in this forum that the principal emphasizes expectations for behavior and character. Here is where we celebrate our achievements. The kids love morning assembly. So do the teachers and the parents."
A favorite facet of morning assembly for Hollinger is "Fun Friday." On each Friday, the assembly is followed by a group dance. With 800 people in the gymnasium, the "dances" are mostly hand motions, but Hollinger reports that they are enjoyed by all. Even parents join in!
"Morning assembly is one of several important pieces in our culture and community building," Hollinger observed. "It is so effective and so powerful that I will always make an opportunity to have daily -- or at least weekly -- assemblies at every school I lead."
Thinking about starting a daily assembly at your school? Scott Hollinger offers some tips for organizing daily assembly in the endbar of this article.
Organize Your Own Morning Assembly
Vowing to make morning assembly a part of every school he leads, Scott Hollinger offers a few tips to those who are just beginning.
I recommend seating the children one behind the other, sitting cross-legged. This takes the least space and orients the students so they're already in line when they stand.
Plan the seating arrangement carefully. Seating assignments must be made in the order in which the classes will exit the gym. You must visualize the entire exit procedure. No lines may cross in transit.
Use colored cones with card slots to mark the head of each class's place. Number the cones with magic marker. Place placards in the slots with the teachers' names. Use the same order every day so students can use the placard or the number or the color of the cone to learn their place. By the time the placards wear out, everyone will know the order of classes.
Before your first early morning assembly, have a practice assembly during the school day. Bring the classes to the meeting area a few at a time and seat them in their places. Have an abbreviated assembly, then dismiss the classes one section at a time, showing them which class will lead each exit line and how the classes "follow the leader" out of the gym or meeting area.
Have a quality sound system. Use quality music.
Make sure many people are involved in the planning. Have a standard agenda, and have a secretary produce a binder with an agenda for every school day. If you have regular elements like "thought for the day," have the secretary find them and print them on the agendas. Have the counselor assign a different class each week to take regular responsibilities like carrying the flag, leading the pledges, and giving the announcements.
Unless you're very familiar with event planning, put your agenda on paper and calculate the exact time of each piece. You will likely underestimate how long each piece takes. (This will cause you to go overtime and you may waste instructional time.)
THE EARLY BIRDCATCHES THE COMMUNITY?
While morning assembly at Uniontown (Kentucky) Elementary School usually lasts just five or six minutes, principal Dan Whitesides says that the activity has contributed to amazing community support for the school.
The daily assembly features the Pledge of Allegiance, the Uniontown Daily Affirmation, a patriotic group song, a celebration of birthdays, morning announcements, and dismissal. On Mondays, awards related to Accelerated Reader are given. Tuesdays recognize "star students," and Fridays include talent programs. Special events and holidays are celebrated with Cupid, the Easter Bunny, Santa, and St. Patrick in attendance.
"If a class has something special going on for the day, we will recognize it," Whitesides told Education World. "Kindergarten may be having Hat Day when they learn the letter H, so the entire school is invited to join in, and we will have a hat parade around the gym."
At morning assembly, every child is recognized for something at least twice per year, and most students have the opportunity to host the program. This gives every child the opportunity to be in the spotlight and to be celebrated as an individual. The community is invited to take part, with at least one parent present every day and as many as 50 or more on special days.
Link to another related Education Week article: "Morning Sing: School's Weekly Tradition
Is Music to the Ears"
http://www.educationworld.com/a_admin/admin/admin358.shtml Ret. 7-18-13
Tell us about your school's Rise and Shine assemblies.