* Rubric for school assemblies

In response to a question about how to support special needs kids in school assemblies, I have created the following rubric.  Before using it, though, you need to role-play and discuss the relevant issues.  For some kids with sensory disorders, an assembly can be a nightmare of sound, action, and bodies.  Most kids already know what aspects of an assembly are the most distressing. The assembly’s topic, length, volume, and visuals can all create problems.  Many presenters begin by greeting the audience and then ratcheting up “attentiveness” by repeating, “I can’t hear you!”  At that point, maybe 200 kids are screaming at the top of their lungs, so my student with sensory overload is already in dire straits.  Consider these issues:

  • Seating: Try to place your student near an adult who will be responsive to your student’s needs, including leaving the assembly if needed.  Seating near the end of a row is also helpful for quick exits and for reducing the number of people clustered around your kid.
  • Topic: Consider an alternative, non-punitive activity if you know the assembly topic will trigger serious distress.  I’ve had kids who were freaked out by scary puppets and “evil” characters.  With their parents’ approval, they could skip assemblies with a fairy tale focus.  You may include that modification on IEPs as necessary.
  • Volume:  A small pair of foam ear plugs may help; check with parents first.
  • Preview: Most assembly presenters provide a description of their performance, including an online site.  Students who know what’s coming are at an advantage.  In fact, it’s remarkable how little any kids can describe an assembly.  We’ve often discussed them during lunch bunches and I’ve been amazed at how little the “typical learners” retained.
  • Debriefing:  In light of the item above, follow up with your kids by eliciting details and sequence of events.  Like a good lawyer, don’t ask questions for which you don’t know the answer!  It’s best to attend the assembly yourself, if possible.

Remember that rubrics should be individualized to meet the needs of specific students; I wrote this one with a certain kid in mind.assemblies rubric

2 thoughts on “* Rubric for school assemblies

  1. Katharine – I would like to take a moment and share the same experience in our Middle East Schools. Here is some conclusion:

    Sometimes our students have problems being polite listeners in assemblies. Did you know that one of our music standards in EVERY grade is to learn to be an appropriate audience member? I have listed some of the grade level music standards below and a rubric you can use with your students before and after an assembly. Students need to be aware of their behavior as it affects not only the listeners around them, but also those giving the performance. Someday it may be their turn to perform and they will certainly want to be respected when they do.

    Audience Behavior Rubric

    3 – The students always focus on the performance (speakers, singers, etc). They exhibit exceptional behavior, providing a good model for others. They participate in an appropriate manner by listening attentively and need no teacher reminders to sit quietly. Keep hands and feet to selves, do not chat with neighbors, show appreciation with appropriate applause.

    2 – Students need occasional teacher reminders to listen attentively and/or to be quiet. Students turn around to talk to other students, may get out of their seats, or not follow all the rules for good audience behavior.

    1 – Students need frequent reminders to sit still, be quiet and/or listen attentively. Students talk to neighbors, make comments, and make it difficult for other students to listen . Student may need to be moved to a different seat, or removed from the setting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, you missed your calling as a teacher, Mihran! You make an excellent point from the perspective of a musician. You have included a whole realm of “being a respectful audience” that I did not include. Thank you for such a thoughtful response.

      Liked by 1 person

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