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How Assemblies Should Be

I’m going to brag a little bit today.

Yesterday we had an assembly at my school. I put it together as our year-end Positive Behavior Support lesson. We do schoolwide PBS lessons about once a month, and each month’s focus is developed based on our data (mainly referrals – like when we had a lot of disruption referrals, we did a lesson about disruption. Pretty straightforward).

This one, was mostly just to end the year in a positive way. I have a friend who is famous. For privacy, I won’t go into details, but he’s pretty rockin’ and a good chunk of our kids totally know who he is. I started talking to him about a month ago about coming to my school to do an assembly. After a lot of back and forth and schedule manipulation, we finally managed to make it happen.

My friend’s a musician, and we planned a school-wide assembly at which he would perform a few songs, talk to the kids about some position stuff (stay in school, be involved in your life, don’t be assholes to the people around you), take some questions. After the assembly, everyone would go to their PBS classroom, have a discussion, and do a writing prompt to conclude the lesson. My friend Rockstar would go with me to the library and work with a group of kids who’d applied for the opportunity.

The whole thing went better than I could have possibly imagined.

Rockstar was, well, a rock star. He got the kids engaged, he treated them with dignity, he was open and honest but unfailingly positive. He talked about how he’d been teased in middle school for being different, for liking math, for being a critical thinker (though he phrased that as “for getting really into one thing and then thinking about that one thing a lot”). He shared personal stories but brought it back to them. He performed original songs as well as medleys of popular songs (but with the words rewritten to be about positive school-related stuff). He was friendly, caring, funny, complimentary, interested, incredible.

And the kids…oh, the kids. My kids rocked. They were respectful, engaged, excited. They participated, they listened, they took pictures, they cheered…they were fantastic. During the assembly, I watched Rockstar some but mostly I watched the kids. Some of them clearly couldn't care less about being there, but most of them were with him for every song, every word, every moment.

The kids in the writing workshop piece were just delightful. Forty-three applied to be part of it, so we took ‘em all. Rockstar led most of the lesson, talking to them about creativity, about heroism, about how they could be heroes instead of just looking up to people like Tupac (who made some good music but a loooooooot of shitty choices) and Kobe Bryant (who’s a huge dick). They read copies of one of Rockstar’s songs that related to heroism, discussed it in small groups, and wrote about it. Some of them shared what they’d written, others just listened, but every child was a model student for that hour (well, mostly – I did have to hiss in BB Bob’s ear at one point that if he did not cut the crap and start treating others with respect, I would throw him out of there so fast his head would spin and he would rue the day he'd crossed me. He shaped up). They represented my school well.

For the rest of the day (and today too), I had kids and teachers thanking me for putting it together. This was something really meaningful for our kids, and really special. Several told me they’d never forget this, and I truly believe that a lot of them will remember this for the rest of their lives.

I’m so happy I could make this happen for them, and so proud of everyone involved for making it an unforgettable day.

2 comments:

Allison said...

That is sweet of you to work on inspiring the middle schoolers. It's so obvious how much you care for them. When I taught middle school, there was definitely a need for motivation

teachin' said...

Motivation is critical! Some have it, some don't, so we gotta work on helping those without find it.

"I'm a dreamer but I ain't the only one Got problems but we love to have fun" -K'naan, "Dreamer"

I teach eighth grade Language Arts at an urban school. My kids kick ass and will change the world. I want everyone to know.
 
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