By the end of the academic year, both students and instructors are ready to call it quits. Students are bleary-eyed from finishing assignments and studying for finals. Instructors are gearing up for marathon grading sessions. It’s no wonder that in the hustle of the last few days of class instructors may forget to tie things up gracefully.
Below are some ways business communication instructors can take advantage of the last day of class and help students remember what they have accomplished.
Return to the beginning
Remind students of the course’s objectives and how the tasks they completed linked to those objectives. By reviewing the major concepts the course has addressed, students will come away with a sense of accomplishment.
Ask students to think about their new knowledge
Either in groups or individually, ask students to consider the new skills they have acquired compared to what they knew before the course. Doing so highlights what students have accomplished in a few months that will stay with them as they enter the workforce.
Have students reflect about their performance
To help students take responsibility for their own learning, ask them how their approach to the class helped or hindered their performance. Students can identify their successes as well as what they might have done differently. Ask students to send themselves a letter with these conclusions before the next term—a “note- to-self” reminder of lessons learned.
Invite current students to write to future students
By advising future students about how to get the most out of the course, current students think about their own learning experience. The suggestions to the next class can forewarn new students about potential challenges. Some instructors even take these suggestions and post them on the course website.
Create an end-of-class ritual
Mark the importance of ending the course as a community. Instructors can recognize students by handing out awards for excellence, most improved, and most engaged students. Some instructors ask students to organize a pot-luck for part of the last day as a way to celebrate everyone’s efforts.
Make their exit personal
As students leave the classroom, instructors may wish to shake hands or offer words of encouragement to each individual. This creates an upbeat feeling as students step into their futures.
Do you employ any end-of-semester rituals? Tell us what you do and start a conversation!
I love my last day of class rituals! After the obligatory student evaluations, I go through their final self-evaluation assignment that covers all the areas you mention in your blog post. Then I take them through a fun Prezi that reminds them of the journey we have been through and all the things they accomplished in my jam-packed course. I go around the room and tell each one of them something remarkable they did that showed how they are blossoming into professionals and good business communicators. What’s fun is I link back to the first day of class when I asked each of them to use one word to describe themselves — I comment on how their “adjective” played out all semester. They’re astonished I remember that! And then I award prizes to the best Public Speaker, Business Writer, and Most Improved Overall (e-books on these topics in college-student speak). We have bagels and play music and just celebrate a good semester. It’s been a great one this year — although one of my students passed away suddenly. So in that class, we will take a moment of silence to remember him. I don’t want anyone to forget they shared a bit of time with him.
Kate, your end-of-the-term ritual sounds terrific! Your students are lucky to have you. Your approach is admirable.