The very last lesson of a term/course/year

by Zhenya

A writing activity on the last day: students are making a commitment to themselves about the things they are going to try out in English after the course is over.

A writing activity on the last day: students are making a commitment to themselves about the things they are going to try out in English after the course is over.

Happy Winter Holidays to you and your families!

I am still in the ‘last lesson’ mood, and this is my third post in a row about finishing a course or a term or a school year with our students (please see my previous ones here and here). I keep thinking about the goals or objectives that teachers set for that last lesson: is it mostly about helping the students feel good about the work done? Proud of what they could achieve? Inspiring them to use (or practice) English on the coming break? Making them feel curious and positively challenges with assignments for this interim time? Making sure that they decide to come back to classes in the new term (or sign up for these classes again)? Collecting feedback from the students about the most memorable and less successful (or useful) parts of the course?

 There are a lot of resources offering activities on the last day; you can always choose between a board game (created by students or teacher), or a farewell song, personalized writing activities where everyone leaves a warm note to everyone in the group, pair or individual tutorials about the progress made and challenges and action points, a motivational video from YouTube or a piece of TED talk – and so much more online!

 My thought is balance between an organized lesson procedure and leaving time for expressing genuine feelings/emotions, having space and openness to listen to what students can say about their learning, and really take in feedback… I think those are so simple things to list, but perhaps very hard to actually do. I personally feel that I sometimes ‘hide’ behind those well-designed last lesson activities and don’t make a pause to really ‘be in the moment’…

Mike Griffin’s farewell speech to his students (Thank you for sharing it!) really inspired me and reminded how important it is to talk about everyday small things and wear a ‘human’ hat in class, especially on the last day. My English teacher in high school, who was usually very strict to us, brought a song to play for our last lesson before Graduation Party (the song was in Russian and it was about how happy a singer was that all his friends were together with him on that day) My Practical Psychology teacher in College brought a box of sweets to us and said that she had been impressed at how high our attendance was for her lessons which started at 7 am on Thursdays… I think what unites all the three examples above is that all these teachers (my colleagues now) are great professionals, and they also made an effort to put this cherry on top of what they had been doing.

How do you finish a course or a term with your students?

What questions do you have to yourself as a teacher before entering the room for the last time? 

Thank you for reading! 🙂