Breaking the Mould of School Assemblies

A typical structure found in many Primary schools is the ”assembly”. And if Studio 5 is good at one thing… it’s challenging, breaking down and reimagining structures!

First, we focused on the “why” behind student assemblies:

  • An opportunity for students to share their learning
  • A chance for connections within and among a school community

Next, we critically looked at the decisions that are often made for students, but without students, when it comes to sharing their learning and connecting with the community. We noticed that often the when, how, who, what and where are typically in the hands of adults.

So then, we tried to figure out how to accomplish the “whys” with more student ownership, voice and choice in the decision making process.

When:

At our school, each homeroom class is assigned a specific assembly date at some point throughout the year. This means that the when is already pre-determined. However, we decided that there was no need for the dates to be specifically assigned to a homeroom, so we decided to take the 4 pre-determined dates and open them up to any Studio 5 students. Each of the four homeroom teachers signed up to be the point-person for one of the four dates.

How:

Next, we asked students how they would feel most comfortable sharing their learning with their community. 75% of students said they felt most comfortable sharing in an in-class workshop style and 25% said they felt most comfortable sharing in a performance style. So we allocated 3/4 of the pre-determined dates to a “workshop assembly” and the remaining date to a “performance assembly”.

Who:

Each time one of the pre-determined dates was approaching, we asked all 84 students “Who is ready and interested to share their learning?” Students who were ready and interested were able to sign-up on their own or with any of their peers from any of the Studio 5 classes.

What:

To help students identify what they wanted to share with their community, the teacher in charge would organize a series of meetings to help structure and support their planning process.

For Workshop Style:

Meeting 1 – students share their initial ideas for what they want to share, which grade they would like to share with, any location and material needs they know of right off the bat

Meeting 2 – teachers offer support and guidance about how to begin the planning process

Meeting 3 – teachers offer additional support and guidance for refining their plan

In between – other classes sign up for which workshop they are most interested in

Meeting 4 – students find out which class they will be working with as well as some final thoughts and recommendations

 

Meeting 5 – final check-in before the big day!

How it went:

The workshop style assemblies were a huge success. The Studio 5 students came back raving about their experience – feeling confident, successful and accomplished! We also received lots of positive feedback from the teachers of the classes who participated in the workshop, saying their students enjoyed their time learning from the Studio 5 students! There were even some really special connections where students continued to work with and mentor the younger students after and beyond the official “assembly”.

 

Photo Credit: @puglifevn

Performance Style:

Meeting 1 –  general group brainstorm about what could be presented at the performance assembly, followed by a decision about what specifically they wanted to do (dance, skit, MC, tech support etc.)

Meeting 2 –  check-in on what has been done so far and what support they need from an adult

Meeting 3 – feedback about what has been done so far and where to go next

In between – rehearsals as needed

How it went:

The performance assembly was also a success. It might not have been as perfect and polished as assemblies that are usually in the hands of teachers, but it was definitely “by kids, for kids”. The students in the audience were laughing and laughing (lots of kid humor) and apparently were talking about the performance all day long (according to their teachers) And again, the Studio 5 students involved left feeling a huge sense of success and pride!

Final Thoughts:

We still feel like there is a lot of room to grow this process and a few more moulds that could be broken (pre-determined dates versus organic and authentic opportunities to share as they come up throughout the year) but overall we felt much more comfortable with transferring as many decisions as possible into the hands of students.