Welcome to our final installment of our seven-part Facilitation Tips series. In this blog, we will cover some advice on how to close a session for optimal learning.
How we end our sessions is as important as any other part. Debriefing means to carefully examine and analyze your students upon the class completion, and to provide a succinct summary of what was covered.
It is from this debrief that learning is tied together and plans are made to carry the learning out into the world. Members reflect on their learning experiences, track their progress, and name their understandings.
When we afford time for a debrief, our students get the chance to personalize the lesson and determine where their understanding is and where it isn’t.
To that end, here are a few best practice ideas from experience on closing a learning session:
- Summarize the session. Especially if the day is full, you need to go back over the salient points you want the learners to take away from the session. Take the opportunity to show how things fit together as well, as much of the session may have been spent “in the weeds” of an area. Debriefs are a good time to show the big picture of the training session.
- Enlist their help with the debrief. There are a variety of ways to do this. You can go around the room and have everyone say one thing they learned today. You can help stitch the ideas and topics of the lesson together.
- Make an Action Plan. To help students bridge learning with actual behavior outside of the classroom, have them spend a few moments making an action plan AFTER you provide them a debrief. This will help them see the big picture and develop a plan of what they will put into action when they leave the classroom. You can use a variety of forms or postcards that can be mailed to them after the session.
- Revisit the Parking Lot. Make sure to acknowledge the Parking Lot topics and ask if there are any more AFTER the debrief. Something may occur to them after the debrief that they need clarification on, so add it to the Parking Lot document.
- Revisit “What Do You Want to Learn Today” list. If you made a list of the topics they wanted to learn, make sure you go back through them and ask them if you hit that topic or not. If you did not, there may be an additional entry for the Parking Lot for you to follow up on.
- Try a “Snowball” Debrief. This is a simple, fun activity that helps people cement concepts and bubble up misunderstandings. Here’s a snowball debrief.
- Give each participant a sheet of paper and have them write one thing they learned in the classroom. It can be a statement or in the form of a question.
- Have them crumple up their piece of paper so that it resembles a snow ball.
- Arrange learners and their snowballs into teams of 10 or so people that are arranged in a circle.
- When you say go, have them throw their snowballs at each other all at once.
- Have them pick up the snowball and throw it back at other learners.
- Let them do this for 2 or 3 iterations and then call “Time!”.
- Instruct each learner to pick up a snowball closest to them so everyone has a snowball.
- Have each learner unwrap their snowball and either respond to the question or explain the principle that is written on their snowball. If they can’t, have the person who wrote it explain it.
- Go around until all snowballs are read and debriefed.
This exercise is just plain fun and gets people up and moving at the end of the day. It accomplishes the debrief in a fun way and your learners leave energized at your session!
- Lastly, thank your learners for their attention and be present after class for questions or comments. This honors their participation in your class and helps a bond form between the learner and the teacher.
Don’t let your sessions die with a whimper! Make learning memorable by ending your session in a fun, warm fashion.