Exciting, lively and relevant content is a vital element of a good assembly. However, it can be wasted if the assembly is not well presented.
When preparing assemblies, think about the following.
Use of space
Consider the space in which you and others will present the assembly, and also where the children will sit.
Tailor the space to suit the theme and style of the assembly. Does the assembly include drama, dance or a music performance? If so, can everyone see and hear? Will it be easy for the performers to find their space, props and instruments? Are they too distant or too close to the rest of the children – either can be intimidating and off-putting to those unused to performance.
Think about trying some different styles – an assembly in the round or an arena (children on three sides) approach. Perhaps the ‘performers’ can be dotted around the space so that different voices and sounds emanate from various parts of the hall.
Why not create a pathway of PE mats that you can walk along during the assembly, taking you through the space in which the children are sitting – it all adds variety and can be appropriate to the theme.
What will the children see as they listen to the assembly? Often this is not an issue, since the assembly includes visual elements such as drama or a music performance or active storytelling. Often, though, it is appropriate to think about some form of visual focus:
- a flip-chart picture (simple happy/sad faces are used in a number of assemblies);
- projected images or video (see our Video resource page);
- a group of objects appropriate to the theme.
If you do create a visual focus, think about whether:
- it is large enough to be seen from the back of the space;
- those at the extreme edges have a clear view;
- it is complimentary to the rest of the assembly or distracting;
- you use intriguing objects that will only make sense as you refer to them during the assembly.
Use of voice
Teachers and clergy probably know more about this than any other profession – with the exception of actors! You will probably be used to filling a space with sound when necessary, then dropping your voice to make the listeners attentive. Assemblies use all your natural classroom (or church!) management skills, but they also provide opportunities to try some different ways of doing things.
You could try a dialogue with two contrasting voices – perhaps a male and female teacher at different sides of the space. If you can develop a range of voices for storytelling, this can also add variety and increase interest.
The use of children's voices can be more problematic. The easy option is go for those with loud voices who enjoy performance, and certainly such children should be given opportunities to use their gifts. Essentially, however, assembly is about something other than performance: its focus lies in shared time and shared experience. Those children who are less at home with speaking or doing in front of a large group should be supported to do so. See the ‘Use of space’ suggestions above for ideas about bringing them closer to the rest of the children, reducing the need for a ‘big voice’. You could also consider using a microphone if appropriate, or (in the case of prayers, meditations, or other prepared presentations) pre-recording individuals' contributions and playing at the relevant moments.