The “school assembly” is the equivalent of the “all hands meeting” in the corporate world. Everyone is required to attend; it isn’t an option. It’s also rarely of any value to the attendees and a big disruption to any actual work getting accomplished.
Come to think of it, that may have been the turning point in my previous career, when at one such meeting soliciting suggestions to boost productivity in the work place, that my pointed suggestion to schedule fewer “meaningless meetings” was not favorably received.
But that’s another story.
The school assembly seems to come in two varieties. The school sponsored rallies like spirit day, fund raisers, and school awards are pretty much choreographed, tame events. The PTA and other parent group sponsored assembly programs bring in an outside professional “performance” for the kids. These performances promote principles like character building, anti-bullying, anti-drugs, eating healthy, stranger danger…etc.
The job of the substitute teacher at these events is usually to sit on a hard metal folding chair at the side and look menacingly in the direction of anyone who is overly disruptive to others around him/her.
Every once in a while the “audience participation”, especially in the lower grades, will surprise the teachers and the actors with an unexpected response to the performance.
So it was, during a last minute switch of class assignments to 6th grade last week and no lesson plan, that the principal instructed me to take the class to the morning PTA assembly for the lower grades. His reasoning was that it would allow me 45mins to review the daily lesson plan he’d be obtaining shortly.
“Just have them sit in the back, behind the 3rd graders.”
The male and female acting duo were presenting the “Arthurian Legend” incorporating the British characters and legends of Merlin, Arthur, Morgana, Sword in the Stone, Templar Knights, the Holy Grail and who knows what else…
I was going over the lesson plan with only partial attention to the stage.
By the sounds of laughter from the audience, the young kids were having a great time with the story. A quick look over at my 6th graders revealed bored, mild attentiveness. Back to the plan!
A shout of “Stab her!!” interrupted my plan review.
On stage, the Templar knight with raised sword was standing over a cowering figure of the witch Morgana .
A second later, the teachers on the other side of the room suddenly came to life as two 2nd graders were on their feet, fist pumping in the air and chanting “Kill her, Kill her…” while other 2nd graders were trying to pull the pair back down into a seated position.
The teachers moved into the crowd and restored order. The play resumed with the “witch problem” taken care of “non-fatally”.
The 6th graders, previously bored to tears, were now highly entertained by the excitement.
If “kid mob” mayhem is what excites 6th graders today, maybe I could suggest the book: “Lord of the Flies” for this group?…