Do endings matter?

Matthew Kay encourages teachers and leaders to take it slow; readers agree.


One of the most-viewed articles in Educational Leadership’s April 2021 issue is Matthew Kay’s column Getting the Endings Right. In the column, Kay reminds readers about the psychological importance of endings: As humans, we tend to remember how an experience ends as well as its emotional “peak.” Teachers, Kay proposes, should examine how their lessons come to a close: do they let a student rush through a final answer, or do they give one lasting highlight to keep students wanting more? The same applies to school leaders: How should a school leader close a staff meeting, teacher evaluation, or student discipline meeting? Regardless, according to Kay, the ending is fundamental.

Many readers agreed emphatically:

But Kay doesn’t stop there. He also recommends paying attention to how this challenging 2020-21 school year concludes. “It matters how we, together, end this thing.” Kay suggests taking it slow, acknowledging that the staff is tired and that students have almost made it through. “Offer that extension,” he writes. “Excuse that assignment…. Let us, by showing grace, make the memory of this stormy year just a bit more peaceful.”

The advice was not lost on readers, who appreciated and encouraged others to follow suit.

Read Kay’s full article here.

Esteban Bachelet is an Associate Writer for Educational Leadership.