When new students join our school in Year 7, I try to make the most of their first assembly so that they leave feeling part of the community and ready to learn. Conveying the school ethos and rules while putting students at ease is not a straightforward task, but there are some simple ways to break the ice.
I start by welcoming students to the school and explaining what we stand for by looking at the school vision and how this applies to each individual. I then ask the students a variety of questions, such as how they travel to school, and show a selection of images representing the different options before giving students the opportunity to vote.
This allows me to reinforce school expectations - for example, by saying: "However you travel, make sure you leave plenty of time to be here for 8.30am." Some of the questions (such as "What do you need to be ready to learn?" and "Why is how we look important?") allow students to contribute individual responses and elaborate on their ideas. This gentle approach means students can participate without fear of falling at the first hurdle.
Next, I use powerful images and quotes to encourage students to think critically, and as a starting point for discussing important qualities such as confidence, risk-taking and ambition. I also stress that we are all individuals with different backgrounds and personalities, but we must work together for everyone to achieve their best. This promotes mutual understanding and respect.
Finally, I show some images related to my hobbies and interests so that students see me as a real person. I explain that I am looking forward to getting to know them all - now, and as they develop throughout their time with us.
Always be empathetic: imagine what that first day feels like for students and aim to make the session informative but as relaxed and enjoyable as possible.
Matt Childs is a lead practitioner at Stanley Park High in Carshalton, Surrey
To download resources for this assembly, visit bit.lyMyBestAssembly28August
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