The year in front of us
by Hannah Knight
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To reflect upon the past year and consider how to make plans for the coming year.
Preparation and materials
- You will need to prepare some PowerPoint slides that show students participating in events and activities in school during the previous year.
- Optional: you may wish to have available some paper and pens for the students to record a letter to their future selves in the ‘Assembly’, Step 8.
- Show your pre-prepared PowerPoint slides.
Point out that during 2023, many successful events happened at school and there are many things that the students should feel proud about. Go into detail about a few events that took place and explain how they affected the school.
- Ask the students if they can think of any other school events that they particularly remember from last year.
- Ask if anyone can remember any special world events that happened in 2023.
Listen to a range of responses.
Remind the students that every year is different from the previous one. This is what makes life so interesting.
Last year brought many difficulties and there were many news stories that were hard to hear. Sometimes, it can be difficult to see how we can make a difference in the world, but there are things that we can do to influence the world around us.
- Tell the students that you are going to propose three statements that will help us to assess the previous year and the impact that we can make on the world around us. The statements are:
- I made a difference
- I learnt new things
- I grew as a person
- I made a difference.
Ask the students to raise their hand if they think that they did something last year that made a positive difference to someone else.
Ask them to raise both hands if they think that they could do more this year.
Point out that making a difference to someone else is a great accomplishment. Many people say that putting a smile on someone else’s face leads us to feel happier ourselves, just like the feeling that we get when we give a present to someone.
This year, let’s try to think of new and exciting ways in which we can make a difference. This is our chance to be creative: there are many ways in which we can help others.
Optional: in small groups, ask the students to discuss how they can make a difference to those around them.
- I learnt new things.
Last year, we all learnt new things both inside and outside school. Learning expands our minds and prepares us for the future. Learning new skills is a great way to gain pride in our accomplishments, make new friends, boost our confidence and even discover a hidden talent that we didn’t know we had.
Some examples of new skills could include learning:
- to play an instrument
- a new language
- how to cook
- a sport or martial art
- how to fundraise for charity
The start of a new year is a good time to think about the new skills that we would like to learn and how we could achieve this.
Encourage the students to pause and reflect on something new that they might like to experience this year. Encourage them to take steps towards achieving this. Maybe they need to speak to a teacher or another adult who could help them move towards their goals.
- I grew as a person.
Each year, not only do we expand our minds and develop new skills, but we also grow as people. This isn’t about us getting taller (although we’ll probably do that too); instead, it means that we begin to understand ourselves better. We understand more about what makes us different from other people and what we like and dislike about ourselves.
We grow in many different ways, including:
- becoming wiser when making decisions
- being more appreciative of the things that we have
- loving our friends and family members
- becoming independent and even being brave about new situations
Encourage the students to reflect on how they have grown as people during the previous year.
- Suggest that the students write a letter to themselves that begins, ‘Dear future me . . . ’, or make a list of the things that they would like to achieve this year.
Remind them that it’s good to have goals, but also, sometimes, it’s good to seize opportunities when they arise.
Time for reflection
Ask the students to close their eyes and think about those who may not have the luxuries that we do, including a good education.
Encourage them to think about how they can help others to lead happy, fulfilling lives and how helping others can encourage kindness in our community and around the world.
Pause to allow time for thought.
Encourage the students to think about any changes that they might need to make to achieve their goals. Is there anyone they need to speak to about this?
Thank you for the past year and all that we have learnt and experienced.
Please help us in all we do this coming year.
Please help us to think about others’ needs and to play our part in making peace in this world.
Please help us to realize the importance of little things, in the bigger picture of the world.
Please help us to know when to plan and when to be spontaneous in enjoying life’s surprises.
‘The UK Blessing’, available at: https://youtu.be/PUtll3mNj5U (6.46 minutes long)