Saying thank you reaps huge dividends. After all, it's not every day that you get thanked for what you do as a matter of course as a teacher. This is an assembly that does just that. It's not an idea I can take credit for - I give that to Jenny Ogg, headteacher at Bridgewater Primary School in Little Hulton, where I started my teaching career. She did what all good headteachers should do, she inspired me.
Jenny ran a surprise-to-the-staff assembly where she thanked everyone for the clubs and after-school activities that they ran. I remember feeling:
- Really surprised; I had done more than I realised.
- Flattered; I was being complimented.
- Appreciated; we all need to feel valued, and acknowledgement of good work can go a long way.
When I moved schools, I took this assembly idea with me, suggesting that we do it to my Year 56 class. Everyone was sworn to secrecy, making the project all the more exciting.
We listed all the teachers and support staff to make sure we didn't leave anybody out. Lots were obvious ones to thank; everybody who ran a club was easy. The harder ones were those who didn't. We racked our brains to think what they had done, most had done something that could and would be acknowledged and thanked. These included accompanying school visits, driving to sports activities, manning stalls at school fairs and attending school discos. There was only one teacher that nobody could remember being at any school activity or event - we decided that we would thank her for being a good teacher and helping children at that stage of their learning.
We decided a big part of our assembly would be showing what had been learnt during the non-curricular activities and the children all wore an outfit to reflect what they were thanking - pupils thanking the football club leader wore their kits and demonstrated skills learnt, children who went to recorder club performed a tune.
Teachers who didn't run clubs were thanked for their support at fundraisers, with examples demonstrated of items bought with specific raised funds.
We sent purposefully vague invites to all the staff, the secrecy part of our assembly was kept right up until we began. I spoke too to all staff suggesting that it would be good if they could all make it.
The big day arrived. The children had the usual nerves of class assembly day, but I also sensed a bit more excitement than they perhaps felt in the usual assemblies. Everybody enjoyed performing their roles. The staff were surprised, and hopefully like me, they felt flattered too. It was not the headteacher thanking them, but a special thanks from the children was moving.
A thank you assembly has so many opportunities. While preparing for it, children are learning, just maybe not in such a traditional way. A thank you assembly allows the whole school to see teachers as rounded human beings and not "just teachers". For example, would Mrs A choose to run a running club if she was not a really keen runner?
Pupils get the opportunities to show off skills learnt and developed in clubs and everyone feels appreciated. This assembly is a win-win situation for everyone.
Alyson Hall is a primary teacher living in Kendal, Cumbria.