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Dr. Ken Shore's
Classroom Problem Solver

School Assemblies

Poor behavior by one of your students during an assembly can present an awkward situation. You might feel embarrassed that your student is the culprit. You also might feel self-conscious if you perceive that the principal and other teachers are watching to see how you handle the problem. Your challenge is to respond in a way that does not draw attention to yourself or to your student, but allows other students to enjoy a disruption-free program. Your goal is to discipline the misbehaving student while leaving his dignity intact.


Conduct a lesson in assembly protocol. Before the first assembly of the school year, discuss with students how to behave during an assembly. That is especially important with younger students. Let students know that you expect them to walk to the assembly quietly and in single file, to sit with their own class, to remain quiet during the assembly, and to leave the assembly in an organized manner. With younger children or special education students, you might practice good assembly behavior.

Keep downtime to a minimum. If you are responsible for the assembly program, try to begin as soon as possible after all students have arrived. The more unstructured time students have, the more likely they are to present problems. If using audio-visual equipment, make sure it is set up and ready to go before students arrive.

Insist on quiet before beginning. Tell students that the program cannot begin until everyone is quiet and seated. After they quiet down, you might engage students in a unifying activity -- such as singing a song -- before starting the program.

Stay near your students. Rather than standing in the rear with other teachers, sit or stand near your class. You might position yourself near a student who has difficulty controlling himself; your proximity might be enough to keep him under control. If necessary, circulate to make your presence known and to observe your class so you can signal those who misbehave.

Signal students non-verbally. If you anticipate a student might have self-control problems during the assembly, establish a non-verbal signal that you can use to indicate that he needs to quiet down or focus on the program. You might offer a choice of signals and have him select the one he wants you to use. You might, for example, make eye contact, put your finger to your lips, raise your eyebrows, wink, or touch his shoulder.

Give a student prone to misbehavior a job. If one of your students tends to misbehave, consider giving him a task to do during the assembly. You might have him set up chairs, hand out programs, lead classes to their seats, or assist the person in charge of the assembly. The job might not only occupy the student's attention during the assembly, but also boost his self-esteem so he feels less inclined to act in a disruptive manner.


About Ken Shore

Dr. Kenneth Shore is a psychologist and chair of a child study team for the Hamilton, New Jersey Public Schools. He has written five books, including Special Kids Problem Solver and Elementary Teacher's Discipline Problem Solver.

Click to read his complete bio.