Teaching hints

14th January 2000 at 00:00
Gerald Haigh on the best way to finish a classroom session.

A hurried, disorganised finish to a lesson risks disciplinary incidents and can mean sending your class off in the wrong frame of mind. Ironically, it's often the best lessons - concentrated and hard-working - that risk being spoiled by a hurried finish. Keep in mind Tim Brighouse's simple but effective image of the diamond-shaped lesson: address the whole class at the start, then work individually or in groups, and the whole class at the end. You must give time for the end point of the diamond. It's too easily rushed or missed out completely. You should also allow time for an orderly exit.

* Keep an eye on the time. Get to know how long you need for a good ending to the lesson, and cut down on earlier sections to achieve it. Teachers, by nature, tend to talk for too long.

* If there's tidying up to do, be very generous about how long this will take. Alernatively, do basic tidying up with the whole class, then ask for volunteers to stay with you at break to do the rest. Primary school children, particularly, like to do this. But don't leave them unsupervised.

* Develop a routine for the very end of the lesson, so the class knows what you want - perhaps everyone sitting quietly, desks clear, bags packed. From there, you could add, for example: "Please stand behind your chairs", then wait for quiet again.

* After that, you need a routine for getting the class through the door. Don't say "Off you go" unless you are certain of their response. Dismiss a few at a time.

* Don't be too stern. Praise the children who do the right thing. Say goodbyes and respond to cheerful comments. Say things such as: "Don't forget that badge you are going to show us tomorrow, Mark." But make sure you are in charge of the agenda.

Next week: when you're having a bad day

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