Assembly point - Skill with kindness

13th February 2009 at 00:00
Meet the teacher who devised a divine way to make pupils more considerate

My favourite assembly idea grew out of a need to develop a whole- class approach to kindness. I titled the project Secret Angels, the idea being that each child was to act as a secret angel to another child in the class.

The aim of the project is to develop pupils' awareness of the needs of others in their class. I've used it successfully with children aged five to 10, but I think it works best towards the end of key stage 2 (ages 10- 11), when the social aspects of children's learning are more advanced and the project can build on existing friendships as well as developing new ones.

You will need to write the name of each child on a small card. I also make a big (A3-sized) secret angel book with a page for each angel, so they can write down their acts of kindness.

You can do this for a class or an entire year group assembly, but you'll need to set some class circle time aside at the end of the two weeks so the secret angels' identities can be revealed.

During the assembly, you should explain that each child will be assigned a secret angel. Then pair them up randomly by picking the cards out of a hat, so they may have a partner who is not their friend or who they do not know very well. Only the teacher and the child know who they are to be a secret angel for.

Then ask the children to think of some secret angel acts of kindness they would like to do for their partners. I did this in literacy lessons for a week, which worked well.

The rules are simple, but surprisingly challenging for the children: everything they do should be secret; they should spend no money; they should write down each secret angel act in the big secret angel book. Writing in the book helps the angels to decide when and how they are going to try to do their acts undetected.

When I've done this in the past in a variety of schools and with different age groups, the children have all got excited as they started to write their ideas in the book, and there were mutterings of secret angel acts spreading out to the playground. You always know that something works well when children in other classes ask you what's happening.

In the second week, the angels can get to work carrying out their acts of kindness. Ask your teaching assistant to check their progress by taking some of them out of class for a few minutes to discuss how their ideas are coming along. This ensures no one gets missed out if you're working with a group.

Then on the Friday, gather your group together and ask each child to describe what they thought their secret angel had done for them and get them to guess who they think it was. The most lovely part of this is actually when the pupils get it wrong, discovering that someone who isn't their angel - and in some cases isn't even a particularly close friend - has done something kind. The considerate attitude and the idea that you should look out for others stays with children for a long time.

Imogen Liu teaches Years 5 and 6 at Chew Magna Primary in Bristol. She was speaking to Meabh Ritchie.

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