Tuesday Teaching Topic: Final Rituals

This is the final week of classes. If you teach a Monday once-per-week course, you have already said goodbye to one class. Others of us still have two sessions left with our Tuesday and Thursday classes. No matter the case, we are in the week where we will close our class for the allotted time and know this is the end for this particular class, with this particular group of students and set of content material, and a community with a collective memory of the events of the past 16 weeks.

But we will all say goodbye in our own ways. Perhaps for the majority of us, it is a review one day and an exam the second day. Others conduct oral examinations. I have seen a few instructors bring snacks or food and have a little party: a solution perhaps most fitting for classes with take-home essay finals.

Today’s Tuesday Teaching Topic: How do you spend your last days of the semester? Do you have any activities that you believe are particularly fitting for the last day? Last words of wisdom you impart in class or via e-mail? Is there anything that you wish you could do, but feel prevented because of curriculum demands or institutional policies? Do you feel a sense of completion? When things feel like they are left undone, how to you respond?

One thought on “Tuesday Teaching Topic: Final Rituals

  1. This is a fantastic question. I think naively I still have the vision of the stereotypical professor spending the last day magically tying all of the content of the course together with some grand, unifying theory of everything. Since such a thing doesn’t exist, and since I’m not that idealized professor, I end on the day before the last day. The last day is the last exam. I joke with students on the next to last day by telling them that I won’t say anything to them on the last day, but I wish I could. I say my goodbyes on the day before the last day. I stick mostly to what I thought of the experience, lessons learned and with them luck in the future. But I wish that I could bring the course full circle. Around Week 14, I imagine what the last days may look like, but then in the “busy-ness” of the last days, those plans are abandoned. Something I may try next semester for one of my classes is a capstone project in lieu of an exam on the last day. Then the last days could be spent with people sharing what they’ve done, their aspirations and a reflection on what we did. My concern is for the student who has not succeeded. Will they engage in such an activity when they know that they will have to repeat the course?

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