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Classroom Management: How to End the School Day

Janelle Cox

Many teachers spend a lot of time using classroom management to carefully plan their morning meetings just right so they can guarantee the school day with go smoothly. However, they rarely think about the end of the school day when the children are so exhausted from learning that the classroom becomes unruly. It’s very common to pass by a classroom at the end of the day and see children shouting, backpacks being tossed into the air or kids running around the classroom. This kind of misbehavior often ensues before dismissal time because the teacher gets careless with her classroom management plan. By not leading your students and sticking to your classroom management plan, you are sending your students the wrong message which can have ramifications that go far beyond the last few minutes of class time. That is why it is critical to create an end of the day routine where the children can wind down peacefully, and in a calm manner.

Here are some teacher-tested ideas to help you create a stress-free, end-of-day routine.

Classroom Management: Have Students Pack Up Early

The end of the day is chaotic enough with the buses coming in, parents waiting to pick up their children and students hurrying to get home. The last thing that you want to do is add to the chaos. Instead of having students pack up right at dismissal time, do it well before it is time to leave.

Most elementary classrooms have recess near the end of the day, and typically after recess students are getting drinks at the water fountain and using the bathrooms or hanging up their jackets. This is the perfect time for students to pack up their belongings and gather everything into their backpacks to take home for the evening. Even if recess happens to be an hour or so before it’s time to go home, it is still a good idea to have children pack up earlier, so that it will be less chaotic later. At this time, hand out any newsletters or take home papers, have students gather their library books and sign any homework folders that may need to go home. Once this is done, then you can move on to the rest of your closing routine.

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Create a “Closing Routine”

At the end of the day, create a closing routine. For example, about 15 to 30 minutes before the bell is going to ring (and after students are already packed and ready to go), read a book to the children, have your end-of-day meeting, play a quiet game, finish homework, or clean up the classroom. Choose whatever it is that you want to do to end your day just as long as you stick to the same routine each week. Before you send off the students to get their backpacks and line up for dismissal, take a minute to ask for volunteers to see how their day went.

Challenge Students to Reflect

Take some time at the end of each day for students to reflect. When you have about 15 minutes or so before it’s time to send the children home, ask students to take a moment and think about their day. They can either write it down in a reflection journal, share with a partner, or take turns sharing with the whole class. The ultimate goal of self-reflection for students is to help them gain some insight about their day. They may find that they didn’t like their own behavior, or that they need to work on sharing or math facts. Self-reflection is a great way to end the day because it allows students to analyze not only themselves, but what happened throughout the day and make any changes they see fit for the next day.

Take Time to Clean Up

Many teachers use the end of the day as a time to teach students some responsibility. Classroom jobs are a great way to help students learn how to contribute to the classroom community because it gives them a sense of pride in their classroom. It also sends the message that you value a clean classroom where students do their part in helping out.

Have students fill out an application for a specific classroom job that they would like to have. Once you get the applications, then sift through them to figure out who would make a good candidate for each job position. At the end of each day, students must do their classroom job before they can pack up to go home. I would suggest giving students about five to ten minutes or so to do their job. This is not only a great way to teach your students some responsibility, but it is also a very productive way to end your day.

By taking the last 15 to 30 minutes of class time to have a set routine, you are eliminating all of the unwanted behavior and chaos that comes with the winding down of the end of the day. Make sure to keep your routine simple and to do the same thing each day. Children thrive on routine, and it’s important to keep it the same up until the very last minute of your day.

How do you end your classroom day? Do you have any tips or tricks that make ending the day productive? Please share your ideas in the comment section below, we would love to hear your thoughts.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.