How Are You Feeling Today?
Feelings at the start of a new school year
by Rebecca Parkinson
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To encourage us to consider the variety of feelings we might experience as we begin a new school year.
Preparation and materials
- Have available some images of emojis that express emotions and the means to display these during the assembly. An example is available at: https://tinyurl.com/y2vxqdfz
- Optional: you may wish to have available the song ‘Getting on with life’ by Philippa Hanna and the means to play it during the assembly. It is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOv5yhxJ1I0 (4.14 minutes long)
- Welcome the students back for the start of the new term. Point out that they will be experiencing many different feelings at the beginning of the new school year.
- Show the image of a selection of emojis that express emotions.
Read through each symbol in turn, commenting on each one.
- Scared. Some students will be feeling scared about all the work they need to do this coming year. Some might be scared about how to cope with a friendship break-up that happened before the holidays and what will happen now that everyone has returned to school.
- Happy. Some students will be happy to be back. Maybe they love school and love learning, or maybe they simply want to get back to see their friends. Maybe there is something new they are looking forward to this year or maybe they are glad that they’ve picked their options and don’t need to study for certain subjects.
- Sad. Some students will be feeling sad because they didn’t want to come back to school. This might be because they would rather be on holiday or because something has happened to make them feel this way. Some students might simply be feeling sad without really understanding why they feel like that.
- Angry. Some students might be feeling angry that they have to come to school. Or maybe they’ve had an argument with someone before they got to school and now they’re in a bad mood that they can’t seem to shake.
- Excited. Hopefully, many students are feeling excited because a new year opens up new opportunities. There are students who have just made the transition from primary school to high school and suddenly a whole new world is open before them! Some students are now prefects or have other responsibilities in school. Maybe some are just excited about being the ‘oldest’ in the school.
- Worried. Some students will have returned to school with worries pressing down on them. Some might be glad to get back to school so that their minds can be taken off the problems that they’re facing at home. Some have very real worries that don’t seem to go away. Remind the students that there are people in school whom they can speak to if they are in this situation.
- Surprised. Some students might be surprised at how they are feeling. They might have expected to be excited about their first day at a new school or in a new year, but when they woke up this morning, they actually felt worried. Some students might be surprised by the new students in their form or class.
- Silly. Some students might be feeling in a silly mood. Perhaps they have a reputation for making people laugh and they’re already living up to expectations. Or maybe their excitement and happiness at being back at school is spilling over! Others may be acting in a silly way because of deep-rooted worries: it’s easier to laugh than cry and face up to issues.
- Frustrated. Some students might be feeling frustrated. Maybe they worked really hard last year and have returned to school to find that they have moved down a set or been placed in a class away from their friends. Maybe some students are frustrated with themselves because they have already broken their aims for the year and have slipped back into old habits.
- Point out that there are many more emotions that the students will be feeling and that most people will be feeling a combination of lots of them.
- Remind the students that feelings are important. Our emotions can change dramatically during the day and our bodies are generally equipped to cope with these changes in feelings. However, sometimes, we need help.
Ensure that the students know where they can find help at any point in the coming school year. Emphasize that it is good to ask for help.
Time for reflection
Ask the students to have a quick look round the room. Point out that there are many other students in the school. Most students will know a few people; some will have close friends in the room. However, no one knows everybody, and we certainly don’t know what each person is feeling today. Some people will have had a tough time before they arrived at school. Some people will have had a hard summer holiday.
Our experiences affect how we respond to others. If we’ve arrived at school following a massive argument with our mum, have forgotten our PE kit and have been told off by a teacher before we even made it to the form room, we’re probably going to react to others differently from if we had enjoyed a lovely, peaceful breakfast, brought everything we needed for school and been welcomed enthusiastically by a teacher.
Encourage the students to remember that none of us really knows what is going on in someone else’s life. We don’t know what difficulties they are facing, what worries are on their mind or what they are feeling deep down. Encourage the students to be sensitive to each other, to stop and think before they react and to give people a second chance.
Remind the students that a new school year gives us the opportunity to make fresh choices, to start again in our attitudes and reactions. Encourage all of the students to make this a year in which we all think about other people and take into account their needs and feelings.
Christians believe that anyone can talk to God about anything at any time. They believe that God promises to be with them in every situation. Some verses from the Bible teach about this. For example, in Matthew 28.20, Jesus says, ‘I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’
Another Bible verse, Joshua 1.9, says, ‘Do not be frightened; do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.’
In John 14.27, Jesus says, ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.’
Thank you that you care for each of us.
Thank you that we are all different, with different gifts and abilities and also different ways in which we react.
Please help us to think about others in this new school year.
Help us to think before we speak.
Help us to try to empathize with the feelings of others.
Help us to seek to live in peace.
‘Getting on with life’ by Philippa Hanna, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOv5yhxJ1I0 (4.14 minutes long)