Guest Author - Dennis Regling
Elementary and Middle schools often bring in assembly programs as educational and cultural enrichment for their students. These programs reinforce educational curriculum.
They are an opportunity to expose students to theatrical arts, and to learn appropriate audience behavior.
Choosing the right presenter can be a big challenge.
Most school assembly programs have a theme or message that can be tied into the student's curriculum, or to social / behavioral messages.
Some assembly presenters are simply speakers or lecturers. They give a talk on their subject. The talks are usually illustrated with visual aides, PowerPoint presentations and special backdrops.
For older children these programs can be an excellent way to motivate and instruct students. There is a danger though of the presenter failing to hold the student's interest.
Other assembly presenters use a performing art such as magic, juggling, music, or storytelling to make the presentation fun and interesting to students. The messages in these shows are intertwined with the entertainment elements.
A good presenter will balance the entertainment value with the message being presented. Unfortunately, some presenters do their standard stage act and throw in key words in an attempt to pass off their program as educational.
A magician will make a scarf disappear and say, "Don't do drugs." To them it is an anti-drug message. They might even produce a rabbit and say, "Just say no."
It is important to hire presenters with good references. Ask the presenter what the key points of the program will be.
It is always best to talk with someone over the phone about your school assembly needs. Specific requests and important information can often get left out in emails. Of course, you will want to talk about the programs available, pricing, availability, etc, but there are also some other questions you should ask before you book an assembly program:
1. Is the show grade level appropriate? Is the presenter able to adjust show content to reach the grade levels that will be present during the assembly?
2. What equipment does the school need to provide? Be sure to discuss any set-up needs prior to confirming a booking, so you can be sure that your school can meet the requirements. One company I know brings an inflatable planetarium to schools. There have been times when the presenter arrives to find the school does not have a high enough ceiling.
3. How many students can attend one assembly? Some shows do not present well to larger groups. Will you need multiple presentations?
Good school assemblies get booked up early. Begin planning your assembly programs several months in advance to avoid disappointment and to have a better chance of getting your choice of dates.
For some great educational shows that meet or exceed state standards, check out http://www.greatassemblies.com