“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.”
For many years, school assemblies in their various forms have played an integral part in the educational process from pre-schools to the college campuses.
Assembly locations can vary, from a gymnasium, auditorium, library, cafeteria, an outdoor commons area, or a field trip location away from campus. Assemblies come in many forms. Those that are organized in-house can range from pep rallies to awards ceremonies to science fairs to a spring concert by the school band or choir. There are also assembly programs where an outside presenter or group comes to the school to perform music or theater, give a lecture and/or demonstration, or tell stories. And yes, even the holiday party or end of the year field day is a form of a school assembly.
Regardless of what type of assembly a school has, there are specific benefits or results that can be achieved with the help of proper planning by staff, students, and parents. What’s more, a great school assembly that is well planned and executed can have many wonderful indirect benefits to everyone involved--most especially to students. It is those indirect benefits of a school assembly that we will now explore in further detail.
A Sense of Community
“Coming together is the beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”
One of the most lasting indirect benefits of a school assembly done on a regular basis is that students develop a sense of community within a school. That sense of belonging can have positive effects in a world where we have too often become isolated and our only interactions with the world around us are via the small screen of a cell phone or computer.
Unfortunately, assemblies have become less common in public schools in recent years. However, parochial, Waldorf and other specialized schools view the assembly—sometimes done on a daily basis for all or part of the school population—as a primary building block in their curriculum. In recent years, more and more parents of home-schooled students are forming cooperatives to foster group activities such as assemblies, games, field trips etc. because more and more research has shown that too much isolation can be detrimental to the educational process.
One such study was done by the University Of North Carolina School Of Educations showed that along with health, emotional and a myriad of other concerns, isolation has a very negative effect on academic performance.
"If you make listening and observation your occupation, you will gain much more than you can by talk."
Many successful people, whether they work in the business world, education, the sciences, or the arts, will often credit part of their success in life to good listening skills. Indeed, those skills can be nurtured in the classroom or at home, but exposure to speakers and performers in an assembly setting is beneficial in building the disciplines of quietly listing and observing what is being presented despite the potential distraction of being in a large group. Furthermore, teachers and students can share their observations after the assembly is over, thus reinforcing what was presented.
Nothing teaches practical social skills quite like participating in a school assembly.
Another indirect benefit of a school assembly is that students develop the many skills and traits to be good citizens in large group settings—something that is not always easy to do especially when there is a lot of energy in the room. Besides the ability to listen and observe quietly as mentioned above, there are also times when kids will need to be polite and courteous to staff and other audience members. Students also learn how and when to participate appropriately, whether that be clapping or cheering, answering questions from the presenter, singing along, and so on. Assembly programs that are produced in-house can be wonderfully beneficial in the development of leadership skills and the ability to motivate others.
Inspiration and Motivation
“Motivation is the fuel, necessary to keep the human engine running.”
The direct benefits of motivation and inspiration are two of the most common reasons schools do assembly programs. Sometimes though, there can be indirect benefits as well. Live animal presentations are a great example, where kids are exposed to creatures they don’t normally encounter, but also come away with the motivation to take better care of their own pets, or speak out against animal cruelty.
There are few experiences more inspirational than living history done right.
"Tell me and I forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I understand."
It is safe to say that most schools would love to find ways to involve parents and family members in school activities. Another indirect benefit of a school assembly is the potential for any number of volunteer opportunities. Volunteer functions could include any number of jobs such as stagehands, ushers, audience monitors, food servers, and even presenters and performers. At many schools, parent/teacher groups (PTA, PTO, PTSA, etc.) are in charge of arranging and funding assemblies, which also fosters opportunities for those family members that like to do fundraising.
Research has shown time and time again that more parental involvement at school can have a direct impact on the child and the school as a whole. Links to several such studies can be found here: https://www.responsiveclassroom.org/what-research-says-about-parent-involvement/
It Can Be All Just Fun and Games, Too!
Although classroom time is important, a benefit of breaking up the school day with an assembly--whether it is on a daily or periodic basis--can do wonders for a school community’s overall morale, allowing students and staff a little diversion other than the usual lunch or playground break. Having something to look forward to such as a talent show, pep rally, field day, trivia contest, etc. can further foster that sense of community discussed earlier in this article. Assemblies and field trips have for years been a useful tool in rewarding students for good behavior or academic progress.
In this article, we have explored a number of indirect benefits derived from having school assemblies. Combine those with the known direct benefits, academic or otherwise, and you will see that the time, trouble and sometimes expense that is required to hold school assemblies is well worth it.