The social patterns previously described in the Teaching Tip: A Welcome Routine draws students into your learning activities. It is equally important to end your classes with routines that help students know what to take from the experience. The final moments of a class are best used to consolidate ideas and set the stage for the next meeting. Squeezing in additional information does not provide the same gains as reinforcing, summarizing, and reconnecting students to the important material. Listed below are tips for the two phases that occur at the end of most social encounters.
Phase 3: Clearing Up
Near the end of an interaction, people often highlights and confirm the main points of the encounter. Such "clearing up" generates immensely valuable teaching moments. Use the following tips to create reflection activities that help students re-process your lesson.
Minute Paper. Give students 1 minute to write down the main point of the lesson. Have them briefly discuss their ideas with their neighbors. You can collect and respond to their comments.
Journal Entry. Ask students to write a journal response to the lesson for several minutes. Ask us for some guiding questions.
Complete Grids. Give students an outline or grid that pulls key ideas and information together. Have them spend several minutes completing parts you deliberately leave undone. Ask the CTL for a sample.
Application Cards. Have students list 2-3 applications of the material just covered. Share responses and comments on how your lesson links to everyday settings.
Exam Questions. Put on the overhead one or two questions from your test bank that are related to the lesson. Allow students a couple minutes to discuss possible answers.
Debriefing. Ask students to reflect on what worked for them in the lesson (and what didn't). Have them discuss and write down one suggestion for themselves and one for you.
Feedback. Gather some targeted feedback during the last few minutes of a class. A short survey can tell you how things are going. Ask us for our short, general model.
Phase 4: Making A Good Exit
Social interactions end nicely when participants know what is expected at the next meeting. It is also a valuable practice to acknowledge good efforts and successes.
Assignments. Save several minutes to discuss expectations and questions about assignments.
Q&A. Open the class up to general questions and answers during the final minutes. If response is low, have students write their questions down and hand them in.
Return. If you have no intention of reviewing or commenting on papers or exams when you return them, give them back as part of the exit phase, leaving a couple minutes for individuals to review and make arrangements to talk with you.
Honorable Mention. Take a minute to acknowledge quality student work. A mention is enough; you might share a student's efforts as a model for others. A public pat on the back leaves people feeling good about the class.
Study Groups. Allow students a couple minutes to meet their study groups (set these up beforehand) so they can make arrangements to meet or get started on homework.
Rituals. Just like greeting rituals, you can create a moment for good-bye rituals. Shake hands, have a round of applause for hard group work, or make a simple comment like, "Thank you for a good effort today, I look forward to our next class."
Bringing a class (or advising session) to a good end provides greater interest in and commitment to future interactions. When a teacher takes a few minutes at the end of the class period to connect the main ideas to relevant applications, students are able to see the purpose for the work you have assigned. This kind of preparation helps students see the purpose of their efforts. They will find it easier to stay motivated between class sessions. Good closing routines set the stage for success on homework assignments and increase the likelihood that students will return to the next class session prepared to work. When planning your next class, include opening and closing routines and turn natural social patterns into effective supports for your lesson.
This Teaching Tip was first published by Indiana State University’s Center for Teaching and Learning on September 14, 1998.