School administrators have plenty of people asking for their time, attention, and budget money. There are school assembly programing emails you open up and you think, “I don’t have time for this,” or, “Ugh, this just isn’t for us.”
It is important for you to:
- Spend your money well.
- Further advance the education and development of your students.
- Create an experience that enhances what you do all year long.
For the last five years I have worked with administrators like you and in that time I’ve discovered the good, the bad, and the ugly of school assembly programming.
I have seen it all.
Ideally, administrators want to identify the best assemblies to book, know which ones to stay away from, and stay on the cutting edge of what will connect with students.
Fortunately for you, this is exactly what I will be covering in this article using my experience from speaking across the country and help you identify what I have discovered makes for the best school assemblies that leave a lasting impact on students’ lives.
Assemblies for the 21st Century (And Beyond)
We are not living in 1999. We are not living in 2009. Soon, we will not be living in 2019… what’s more, the world our students live in has changed more in the last 5 years than it has in the last 15.
The obstacles and distractions you are facing everyday pose a threat to the learning process, jeopardize funding, and most importantly put our next generation at risk of falling decades behind their peers around the world.
Your school assemblies matter — the speakers, presenters, entertainers, and educators you bring in have the potential to ‘pop’ the bubble of individual students and help them see there is a bigger world out there.
If you want to enrich their lives, pop their bubbles, and reclaim their attention, you must reach them WHERE THEY ARE. You know this — but knowing it and practicing it are two different things.
When administrators are considering my program for their assemblies, I am often asked, “Can you tell the students how important doing their school work is?”
The heart behind the question is right but the more important question is, “Regarding the issues you deal with on a daily basis, how many of them are related explicitly to academics?”
“Wow, we really don’t have any.”
In many cases, the problems are not academic. That’s the good news.
You thrive at growing students from the angle of academic studies — people like me thrive at helping to develop the person these students will become and we approach it from a relational, storytelling angle.
Five Traits of Dynamic and High-Transformative Assembly Programming
Since 2014 I have traveled to hundreds of cities, spoken to thousands of students, interacted with dozens of administrators, and met many speakers, entertainers, motivators, and educators.
In that time, I have discovered the 5 things you MUST consider when trying to get maximum return on your assembly programming.
The Program Must Make Impact
Will this assembly penetrate the hearts of young people? Will students walk away, thinking about the program for the next several hours… next several days… years to come?
The students who remember my presentation are the ones who make life change. I am contacted, months, even years after interacting with students and told how it changed their life… and they have a vivid story to share.
If your speaker can pair a vivid example of life change in their presentation, students can visualize their own lives changing and that will be the catalyst for allowing the message to change their own life.
The Presenter MUST Speak the Language of Your Students
Your responsibility as an educator is to connect the hearts and minds of students with the basics of life — both academic and relational.
That responsibility means that anyone you put in front of them must speak their language. Your best staff and faculty are those who can speak the language of the students while simultaneously commanding respect.
You want the same in a presenter.
Is their message relevant to the culture today? Does their story translate to the lives students find themselves living?
This is vital.
You and I both know that when you stand in front of students you have a few short seconds to connect — they must sense that you care about them and they must care about what you are saying.
If you fail in those first moments, the entire program is for not. You will never get them back.
Speaking their language ensures they will understand from the second the presenter steps on the gym floor.
Grab Their Attention. Immediately!
When you are examining programming choices, ask yourself the question, “Will this capture the students and leave them wanting more?”
It is vital for an assembly presenter to grab attention. We’re not talking shock jocks… we’re talking quality communication.
Keeping an entire auditorium or gymnasium of students organized and in line is difficult — an attention grabbing program is your best weapon against distractions, disruptive students, and restlessness.
In fact, a presentation that grabs their attention will turn your students into peace keepers and your staff can sit back and watch as students put a wanna-be disrupture in their place, “Shut up, man. I’m trying to listen.”
When the speaker grabs their attention, you and your staff actually get a break from policing and you will return to the classroom with students who have just had their hearts and minds engaged — and they are ready for more.
Allocate the Proper Amount of Time
Nothing can be too long — only too boring. Some of Hollywood’s most successful movies run as long as 3 hours and they are successful because they engage the viewer every step of the way.
That said, it is important for your assembly presenter to know exactly what type of attention span they are speaking to and be ready to adapt and adjust their content to ensure maximum absorption.
Unfortunately, you will encounter some programming that does not take into consideration the maturity level of the audience and unless it is just a perfect fit for their content, the assembly is a lost cause before it begins.
I don’t want this for you. You don’t want this for you.
As you interview programming options, I would encourage you to make sure that no program extends the timing of your assembly longer than 60 minutes. For younger children you will want to adjust that number accordingly.
Ensure that the presenter can adjust his or her content to the time you have allotted to prevent pushing the assembly overtime. This will help you preserve the overall impact of the event.
The Message Must Be Clear Before Assembly Time
If you are unclear about what the presenter will be doing during the assembly, your students will be unclear about what they are actually supposed to take away.
Actually, worse… they won’t even pay attention.
You MUST KNOW right off the bat exactly what the point of the presentation is and how it will be relayed to the listeners.
Know ahead of time what students will be challenged to take away — this will help you prepare your teachers for meaningful conversations… both planned and spontaneous. They will be ready to ask questions that are meaningful and guiding to the student.
If everyone is clear on the message and the presenter delivers, you now have a window into the student’s life to build rapport that can be leveraged over the course of the coming days, weeks, and months.
Bring In Allys Who Reinforce Your Values and Systems
A final word is to bring in presenters who are curious to know about you and your school, anxious to learn about what makes your campus ‘tick’ and has a willingness to cater his or her message to connect in a more meaningful way.
When the speaker makes a connection with the students there is no better time to then reinforce values that you want to instill in your students during their time in your care.
I see myself as an addition to every school I visit. My job is to compliment the learning that is already happening. This ensures my message will resonate more deeply in the moment and that it can have a longer lasting impact after I’ve departed.
You and I want students to see a better path and a brighter future than what is currently in front of them.
You and I want students to know they have people in their lives who care about them enough, and love them enough to say, “Hey, I am walking this journey with you. You are not alone. You don’t have to struggle by yourself. We can get through this together.”
My hope is that your year is filled with amazing experiences and your kids are a joy to work with. Ultimately, I want to help educators be a bridge to the success in students lives that lead them to a brighter life. Not coincidentally, I cherish opportunities to help build that bridge along side you.