We never really know what are students face when they walk out the door of our rooms. We do to a degree, but so much can change in 24 hours between them leaving us and returning that it can be hard to predict everything. At the high school level especially we often only get a short block of time a day with our students. In my case, 50 minutes. I get 50 minutes to make an impression, 50 minutes to make sure they are happy, healthy, and safe. Oh yeah, I also need to squeeze some history in too.
I think we get very hurried in our short time blocks. We have so much to do that how often do we end class with trying to squeeze in a description of the homework, or yelling out one last "don't forget to get the permission slip signed" as students rush out the door. What is their last impression of us as they leave? Harried? Flustered? There's got to be a better way.
I took a grad class a few years ago and the professor did something that has stuck with me ever since. When the class time came to an end she didn't tell us to "have a nice night" or remind us of anything. She simply said, "thank you for your hard work today." She thanked us. I was speechless. I don't know why, it's a very simple thing, and yet something that we as teachers often forget.
Regardless of how the class has gone, the students sitting in front of you showed up, they are there, and many of them put their very best in to today's lesson. That best may look different for each student. For some students it was simply showing up, for others it was the exceptional effort it took for them to stay focused and listening. For others, maybe they conquered their fear of speaking in front of the class. Others still simply completed what was asked. Regardless of what it was, there is something that they did that they should be thanked for.
Have you ever had a student thank you (gosh I hope so) for something? It is wonderful, it can motivate you for a month. There's nothing better than a sincere acknowledgment of your effort. We need to start doing this with students.
I adopted that professors ending for class. I now thank kids for their hard work before sending them on their way. And you know what? It keeps the whole mood elevated all day. I get a few genuine smiles, and I get many "thank yous" in return. It's a nice human moment in the sometimes weird power structure of teachers and students.
I was recently talking with another teacher about this, and he told me he says "love you" to his students (as a group) as they are walking out the door. At firs this seemed odd, even a little inappropriate to me. Then he elaborated, he told me many of his students go through not just their whole day, but much of their lives never hearing those words, so he wants to make sure they at least hear it from an adult who cares. It makes sense.
I don't think I'm quite ready for that, but I know that I will continue to thank and acknowledge my students for their efforts. I truly am thankful for and to them, and there really is no better way to end class! It's simple and yet so powerful.
How do you end your class? .