All's Well That Ends Well

April 30, 2018

It’s May and the first line of that old Frank Sinatra song “My Way” keeps running through my head:  “And now the end is near, and so I face the final curtain…"

The semester is coming to a close.  A great deal of thought and energy is usually given to the start of a semester and how the learning experience will unfold. That same level of care needs to be directed to the winding down of  the semester.  How will you wrap up the loose ends of concepts, bring clarity to the overall learning journey that occurred, and motivate learners to persevere through the final moments of the course? How will we end it well?

Here are a few ideas:

  • If you are teaching a large lecture course, meet with your GSIs to discuss the learning journey they’ve seen in the discussion sessions.  Discuss these insights, as well as your own to wrap up the last lecture session.

  • Review segments of the syllabus such as the course description and the learning outcomes, reminding students how key concepts and assignments led to the achievement of the vision of the course.  

  • Have students work in small groups to create a concept map for the semester and share them with the rest of the class. This is a good review tool and also demonstrates to students what they now know as a result of taking the course.  

  • Ask students to enter into a Google doc one word that represents their experience or favorite concept this semester and then create a word cloud ( using their words.  

  • Acknowledge and express appreciation for the efforts of your students throughout the semester.  Highlight favorite questions asked and activities during which there was high engagement.

  • Encourage students to look beyond lost points to the specific value of the content in their fields.  Discuss how the core course principles of the course will be used in their various careers.

  • Do something fun and out of the ordinary in the last class.  For example, use a game-like format to review and offer snacks as prizes.  Or, if you had an opening icebreaker activity for the course, do a closing activity.  You might even be able to use the same activity that was used for the icebreake

  • If you are using music to begin a class, find an uplifting piece to play as students are leaving the last class.

And for yourself, spend a few minutes taking a deep breath and reflecting on the top three highlights of teaching the course that brought you joy.  For “ the play is done: All is well ended, if this suit be won, that you express content;” (from All’s Well that Ends Well, Act 5, Scene 3 retrieved from ).  

Happy Semesters End!