* 8 Tips to Improve Your Exit Routine

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You can improve your classroom management by improving your exit routine. In this post, I am going to give you 8 of my favorite tips for a stress free end of day or end of period routine.

In the last post, I highlighted ways to improve your entry routine. If you missed it you can click here to read it or if you are more visual or auditory, you can click below to watch the YouTube video.

The end of the period can be a stressful time for teachers. They are often trying to cram everything possible into those last few minutes and prep for the next class period at the same time. Students’ attention span may be waning, causing them to be off task. You will need to set the tone early in the school year for how you intend to handle this part of the period.

And everyone has seen that classroom where students all make a mad dash for the door when the bell rings, sometimes knocking other students over to get there. Or we’ve seen that classroom where students are hanging out the door for the last few minutes of class, just waiting for the “freedom” bell. Well, that’s not a good look for any teacher.

So, what does the end of the period look like in a classroom with good management? It is a classroom where teachers have established routines. There are procedures for everything and the students have practiced them.

Tip #1 Time your exit routine.

Know what time you want your students to start packing up. Unless you have a lot of materials to collect it shouldn’t take more than two minutes. That’s right, I said, TWO minutes. If this seems too short to you, start with three minutes and then look for ways to tighten it up.

In middle school, my students are clock watchers. They are counting down to the end of the period. Sometimes they will start to pack up before I am ready for them to do so, which is a habit that I nip in the bud at the very beginning of the year. I try to make it a teachable moment because many students don’t know that this is considered impolite or they are just worried about making it to their next class on time. I make sure they understand that when they start packing up early it is going to actually take us longer to leave because I have to stop and address it. They may also need to take out items again that they have already put away.

Tip #2 Have a back up plan.

Bell-to-bell instruction is a term that you might hear some administrators use. It means students should be engaged from the time the entry bell rings until it’s time to leave. Instructional minutes are valuable and shouldn’t be wasted because students are waiting around to find out what to do at the beginning of the period or because your lesson is too short or because students are just bored and decide to pack up.

Have a back up plan. If for some reason you find yourself with extra time at the end of the period, have students summarize what they learned today, complete an exit ticket, or you can do a quick verbal check for understanding. You could even have a quick, fun game to play or a go to set of short video clips that compliment your lesson or that are a “reward” at the end of the period.

Tip #3 Have a plan for materials.

Collect materials in a systematic fashion. Have certain students collect materials for their group or call up students by their group. Be clear about your expectations for the exit routine. If a student gets up who isn’t supposed to be up (which inevitably happens) remind them to go sit back down.

Tip #4 Have students help.

For that student who just can’t sit still for another second make them your helper. Send them around with the trash can and have students clean up their area. The custodian will thank you and your admin will be impressed by your tidy space. Plus, you’ll just feel better in a space that doesn’t seem so cluttered with other people’s debris.

Tip #5 Reset.

Use one of these two minutes during your exit routine to reset your presentation or your space for the next class period. This will allow you to be at the door to greet the next group of students who will be coming in. If nothing else, make sure you post the entry slide for the next class period so they’ll know what to do when they enter.

Tip #6 Inspect and affirm.

Position yourself at the door to prevent students from hovering there or dashing out. I usually do a visual inspection of the room on the way to the door. I make sure trash has been picked up and calculators or other supplies are on desks. Everything should be ready to go for the next period. This is also a moment when you can send some positive affirmations to students or just thank them for following directions.

Tip #7 Be systematic.

Dismiss students in a systematic fashion. Call them by rows or groups. Remind them that students who are meeting expectations will be called first. Don’t start with the same row or group every day. Switch it up. 

Tip #8 End on a positive note.

Say something positive to them as they are leaving. I usually say something like, “You guys were AMAZING today! Enjoy the rest of your Tuesday!” 

If it was a rough day, I might say, “It was a little rough today but remember tomorrow is a FRESH start.” Bonus points, if you can actually smile at them as they leave…no matter what happened during the class period.

Please comment below if you found these eight tips useful. I would also love to hear any of your ideas for exit routines.

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