The importance of practice when preparing collective worship.
I don’t need to tell you how much there is to do as a teacher. In the midst of all the demands preparing collective worship and getting ready for an assembly might feel like just another task. But good preparation is vital. If you want collective worship to fly, it is going to take practice.
Here are five reasons to have a run through in advance and really know your material:
1. Know the Flow
Having a practice will help you see how the various component parts best fit together. We find assemblies work best when you have a clear journey that flows. Most assemblies start with a time of ‘gathering’. Here you have the countdown, an introduction and maybe a ‘do section’. This is followed by ‘engaging’ with the bible story. Then there is a chance to respond with prayer, reflection or song. Finally everyone is sent, to apply what they have learned in the rest of school or home life. Practicing helps you think about this journey that you are taking the pupils on and ensure this journey is clear as you deliver it.
2. Keeping Time
Having a practice will help you time each section and judge how long the whole assembly will take. Have you planned too much? Too little? Is there time planned in for the children to arrive and get settled? We tend to provide you with more material rather than less. Have a run though. Using a timer when preparing collective worship will help you know if you need to cut sections, or deliver them in a different way. You can always take sections you don’t have time for in collective worship, and use them as class room reflections throughout the week.
3. Making Links
Practicing will help each section flow as you come to it. As you’ll be familiar with what comes after your opening illustration, it will be easier to naturally move into the next thing. This can help prevent the need to hastily refer to notes. It also means you can preempt stuff that is coming and include cues to where you are going. Most of our assembly resources are written to make a main point. Knowing the links helps you to prepare for the point, make the point, and summarise the point clearly. The effect is collective worship that flows better and is more memorable.
4. Improve Engagement
Having a practice will help you think less about your content and more about engaging with the children. Eye contact is key! Less time looking at notes and more time building rapport helps you gauge the response. It’s then easier to adapt the points you want to make to your own school. If you don’t know a script, it can feel confining. When you know a script, it’s freeing as you can adapt and be flexible in the moment. Preparing collective worship well generally means your delivery will be stronger.
5. Gain Confidence
Having a practice will give you confidence. If you have already run through the assembly, you should be clearer and hit your main points with more clarity and conviction. If you are confident about what you are sharing this helps the children relax and trust what you are doing. If you are uncertain, they will pick up on it!
Practice is the best thing you can do when preparing collective worship.
It would also be true to say that the more you practice, the easier it is for you to spot things you might be able to improve in your presentation style – when you are standing still, do you have a tendency to move backwards and forwards from one foot to the other? When you are talking do you say “um” and “er” a lot? With practice you can iron out these little foibles and give your absolute best.
Anyway, that’s enough from us. We hope these tips help when you are next preparing collective worship. Go and make yourself a cup of tea and have a practice of your next school assembly. Only with practice do pre-planned assembly resources become really fun and engaging assemblies.
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This blog was written by Ali Campbell from The Resource. Ali is an experienced educational practitioner and advisor on collective worship to the church of England and community schools. He is experienced in training head teachers and clergy in delivering fun and engaging assemblies. Ali is also one of Big Start Assemblies contributors, helping develop a large number of the walkthrough scripts. The Resource is full of ideas resources for those working with children and young people.