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If you have ever been given the task of choosing school assemblies for your school, you know how stressful it can be.  Whether you are representing the school’s PTA or are a staff member looking to schedule the perfect programs throughout your school’s calendar, it can seem daunting.  Where do you begin?  How can you know you are getting quality programs?  


Here are some tips to help you on this journey and make this task a little easier:


Tip #1: What Has Worked In The Past?

You can learn quite a bit from history and the same is true with selecting school assembly programs for your school.  What has your school used in the past?  Try to connect with staff members and former PTA volunteers to see if they can recall what programs worked and which ones did not.  Hopefully, you’ve been given a folder that has notes of some kind about successes and “not-so-successes.” 


If there were some great programs, how long ago were they at the school?  Does this performer or group have more than one show?  You may not want to repeat the same show, but maybe you can use a different program from the same performer.  I currently have five shows on five different topics (Fitness, Nutrition, Reading, Math, and Good Character) and school clients that book one of my shows will often have a different show the following year.  The idea being that if you are happy with one show, you'll be happy with the other shows as well.  If your school loved a performer, chances are great they will love all of their shows. 


Side note: If you haven’t been given a folder, do your future volunteers a favor and start a folder with your own notes.  Those future volunteers will thank you and may even give you an all-expense paid vacation to Hawaii…or Hoboken, NJ.


Tip #2: What Have Other Schools Used?

If your school’s assembly choices in the past seem foggy, there is still hope.  You have other schools in your district or area that you can connect with and get recommendations.   Arrange to meet with them in person or by phone.  Find out what assemblies they have used in the past and, specifically, which ones they’ve been happy with.  Questions to ask might be, "What did they like about the assembly?  Would they have that assembly program back?"  These contacts are not only great resources for success stories, but they are also potential schools that you can block book performers with (sharing back-to-back dates) and save money. 


I love it when a school contacts me because they “heard great things” from another school in their area.  Partner with schools and ask questions.  Your school administration will be so glad you did and they might just upgrade your Hoboken trip.  


Tip #3: Be Sure To See A Video

It is nice when the performer has great looking promotional material with fancy brochures and a dazzling website.  But let’s be honest, that doesn’t tell you whether their program will engage the kids.  You need to see it to believe it.  Does the performer have a demo video on their website that shows actual clips from the show?  If not, can you see the show live at a nearby school?  Do not, I repeat, do not book a program blindly.  You are spending your PTA’s hard earned money and you want the biggest bang for your buck.  


Tip #4:  Does It Have All The Qualities Of An Awesome Assembly? 

When watching a sample of the show, you want to see that this is going to be an awesome show for your school.  Booking a great performer will get all those kids, teachers, and administrators thinking you are a superhero.  So what makes a great show?  Here are some questions to help you along:


  • Are the students engaged?  

  • Does the show seem both fun and educational?  

  • Does it seem like it would appeal to all the grade levels of your school? 

  • Will this program also appeal to teachers and administrators?  

  • Does the performer look professional?  

  • Do they create a stage area that makes a great first impression before the show begins?  

  • Do they come with everything needed or does the school have to provide equipment?

  • Does this program have classroom or take-home materials?

  • How much is an assembly?  Will it fit your budget?  Are there travel costs?

  • Is there a discount for sharing two or three days with other schools in your area?


Like any business, there are performers who are really good and others that are really bad.  Doing a little homework and investigating will improve the chances of you getting the best program for your school.  School assembly days are supposed to be SUPER FUN and kids look forward to them.  Students often tell me that “assembly days are my favorite days.”  Being an assembly performer, I love hearing that.  You should too.  You’ve been given a big task and it can seem daunting, but you are setting up some of the BEST DAYS for YOUR SCHOOL.  Book some great programs for your school and enjoy the journey!

Brian Richards is a full-time school assembly performer that specializes in educational shows for grades Pre K - 6 all over the U.S.A..  Brian uses magic, comedy, audience participation, and educational content to educate and motivate students.   

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