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Rise and Shine With The Morning Prayer Assembly

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November 29, 2016

Rise and Shine With The Morning Prayer Assembly

Do you have students and staff members you don’t see every day? Reconnect with your entire school ‘family’ at the beginning of each day in the way that many schools across the country do — with a ‘Morning Prayer Assembly’. A well-organized assembly establishes a positive tone for teachers and students and encourages community involvement, without cutting into precious instructional time.

Do you have students and staff members you don’t see every day? Reconnect with your entire school ‘family’ at the beginning of each day in the way that many schools across the country do — with a ‘Morning Prayer Assembly’. A well-organized assembly establishes a positive tone for teachers and students and encourages community involvement, without cutting into precious instructional time.

‘To keep a lamp burning, we must keep putting oil in it. We too need oil for our ceaseless work. What is the oil? It is prayer. Prayer is the source and strength of our work’- St Teresa.

We often talk about building a community in a school, but just as often, the youngest children and the oldest children in a school never even see each other. They have vastly different lunch schedules, physical education schedules, and recess times. When we all meet together in the assembly every morning, the entire section of our school is present. All the children from their section i.e the Pre-primary, Primary or Junior section and all the teachers can see each other. We’re all involved in the same activity sharing an experience.

What is demonstrated in an assembly is a reiteration of the values, thoughts and abilities of every individual pupil. The children are invited to consider their inner capabilities, their positive worth, their place in the community and their purpose for the week. Children respond in the affirmative, so that they are focused, positive, calm, and ready to start.

The daily repetition of sharing begins to build in all of us a history of shared experiences. This is what a shared culture comprises. It is in this forum that the Principal or Head Teacher emphasizes expectations for behavior and character. Here is where we celebrate our achievements. The students love these morning assemblies; so do the teachers and the parents.

But the pertinent question still remains – what activities should do we have in our Morning Assemblies?

The Morning Assembly should become an integral part of the school curriculum. If considered from a proper perspective, prayer assembly is the most important and most productive community building activity in a school. It requires a well planned schedule as it can then be effectively used as a platform to develop the latent capacities of children and assist them in directing their energies for the betterment of society through acts of service. Through sharing in the Morning Assemblies we create opportunities for children to enhance their understanding of their own self, skills and abilities that enable them to become conscious subjects of their own growth.

To make the most of the Morning Assembly some points are kept in mind while planning them so that the time allotted is effectively and efficiently utilized.

1. Proper Physical Arrangements

Children come in files from their classrooms and assemble in their different houses for Primary and Junior School classes and class-wise for the Pre-primary classes.

2. Burning of Incense to create the spirit of prayerfulness and meditation incense sticks are burnt before children come into the school hall or to the place allocated for the assembly in the school.

3. Arrangement of Microphones and Musical Instruments

Microphones are checked every day before children start coming in for the assembly. This enables the instructions and prayers recited to be heard by the entire congregation and hence they participate whole heartedly in the proceedings. Musical accompaniments add to the spirit of singing hymns and songs in praise of the almighty.

The programme comprises singing of devotional songs, the school prayer, repetition of the school pledge, sharing of good thoughts and autobiographies of great personalities by the children. The importance of special days like World Earth Day, World Book Day, Teachers’ Day, International Day of Peace and Non-Violence or Children’s day can be talked about and celebrated during the assembly. Interesting articles on environment, values or educational possibilities for senior children can also be shared during the assembly. The Principal or Head Teachers can use this opportunity to enumerate the school rules and make important announcements. It provides a platform for the Head Teacher or Principal to communicate with the school community and become a part of their journey. He/she can use his/her words to motivate them as a whole group towards higher aims with values as the cornerstone of achieving them. Achievements of children in different Inter-house, inter-school or even International events can be applauded during the Morning Assembly. Activities like Quizzes, Group Discussions, Talk Shows, Declamations, Speech Contests or Spelling Drills, to name a few, can also be conducted during the Morning Assembly.

The purpose of having the Morning Assembly can be stated as

i. To develop a feeling of affiliation and unity among students.
ii. To acquaint students with the school programme more clearly.
iii. To develop in students a sense of identity with the school and society as a whole.
iv. To enable students to share their experiences, stories, anecdotes with others.
v. To provide them training in good social behavior desired in public life.
vi. To motivate students by positive reinforcement in the form of praise or rewards awarded in public.
vii. To celebrate national festivals, Independence Day, Republic Day, birthdays of great leaders, etc. These leaders could be political leaders, scientists, poets and writers.
viii. To facilitate moral and religious development of students.
ix. To facilitate national integration and secularism through all-religion prayer meetings among students.
x. To inculcate feelings of brotherhood and globalism by organizing World Peace Prayers and Mock World Parliaments on International issues to make the student community aware that they are a part of this globe.

Special care should be taken to emphasize on the motto and vision of the Founders of the school such that the same is imbibed in the outlook of each and every learner and member of the school. We believe –‘Every child is potentially the light of the world and at the same time the cause of its darkness; wherefore the question of education be accounted as of primary importance’.

Baha-u-llah said, ‘Knowledge is praiseworthy when it is coupled with ethical conduct and virtuous character; otherwise it is a deadly poison, a frightful danger’. The world today presents a contrasting picture of ideologies. On one hand people pay homage to the victims of nuclear disasters and on the other hand there is in the consolidation of nuclear weapons. Let us aim at developing strong individuals through a balanced mix of material, human and spiritual education.

The most important thing is wholeness – a whole community. This is not a place that is only devoted to teaching children material things. The purpose of the school assembly is that the children learn their academic stuff more effectively because they learn in a valued, structured environment. ‘Holistic development’ of the individual can be achieved based on the premise that each person finds identity, meaning and purpose in life through connection to the whole school community and society, to the natural world, and to humanitarian values such as compassion and peace. The quality of learning is better, and life skills and values are absorbed in ways that are more permanent. No detail about people, individuals, or the conduct of the school, is considered unimportant. There’s a clear sense of vision which is imparted during this very important activity of the day – The Morning Assembly.

Aditi Sharma, a trained teacher and a Post-Graduate in Computer Applications and Educational Administration with a Certificate in Guidance and Counseling, joined the City Montessori School Lucknow, as a Kindergarten Teacher in 1991. After occupying a series of administrative positions in the City Montessori Schools chain, she was elevated to the post of Principal in the Asharfabad Campus in September, 2014. She has had vast exposure to international teaching practices as she has led a number of school delegations to Hong Kong, North Korea, Indonesia, etc.

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