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Your lesson is almost complete. You've discovered the perfect way to start your lesson, the middle is laid out beautifully, you even have minute markers posted throughout so you can stay on track but how in the world are you going to end your lesson? First things first- Remember what an ending to a lesson should and should not be:
- Do NOT add new information- Keep it short and focused.
- Sum up the key points of the lesson and direct the class towards application. The point of the gospel is to live it.
- END ON TIME! It shows you care about the people in your class and their families as well as helps to keep everyone's attention. General Conference is the ultimate example of this. It always ends on time if not early! It is better to end early then go late. Respect your class and plan appropriately.
- Don't rush it. You need to reserve enough time to end your lesson without hurrying through it. Rushing defeats the purpose of a closing.
Most of these closing ideas will work for the majority of LDS classes. You may have to adjust slightly to fit your class's needs but these ideas will help you brainstorm to get to that right ending for your class. Try to end each of your lessons in a different way so you can reach people in different ways each time. Above all, please remember to listen to the Spirit as you continue to prepare your lessons.
Go Back to the Overall Purpose
As you prepare your lesson you should have an overall purpose that is the center of your lesson. What is the one thing you want your class to know when they leave? You may even want to state the overall purpose of the lesson in the beginning. Now go back to it and ask for specific examples of how to apply that purpose to their lives. If you have already asked earlier, go back and restate a few ideas. Relate the purpose to action so when people leave, they are already thinking of ways to apply it to their lives. Make sure your class has a clear understanding of what was taught and how it benefits them personally.
Let Others Close for You
Teaching is ultimately a group effort. We all end up teaching each other so let your class help you close your lesson. Ask ahead of time for a few individuals in your class to pay close attention to the lesson and end your lesson with some of their thoughts. You can ask a few people right before your class or even better, call ahead of time (it's a great way to get some people to come). Recommend that they take notes during class and end with their testimony of the things they wrote down. You can also ask a few people ahead of time that have personal experience with your topic to share their story with their testimony.
Worksheet or Journaling
Give your class the time to ponder how they will put what you have been discussing into action. Hand out worksheets or journaling pages (see my Study Journals) and put some soft music on in the background. Give everyone 5 minutes to think and write down their experiences. Often the act of writing will allow your class to remember more, come up with an action plan for themselves, and open them up to individual inspiration. At the end of 5 minutes, close with a few simple sentences challenging your class to continue to ponder those things and act on their impressions.
Go Back to Your Opening
Did you use an object lesson or visual to open your lesson? Go back to the beginning and introduce them again. Review what each part of the object lesson stood for with further clarification from the lesson. If you used a picture, talk about the elements in it or point out the one key part you think fully exemplifies your lesson. Maybe the picture takes on a whole new meaning now that you have further discussed a gospel principle. Ask the same question you did before and point out the differences in the answers you receive. Bring your lesson full circle and tie it off. See how I use pictures to begin a lesson in this teaching tip video.
End your lesson with a well timed musical number. I say well timed because you must leave enough time at the end of your lesson in order for this to be enjoyed and uninterrupted. Musical numbers are powerful ways to close. After the number, get up and bear a simple testimony to tie it all together- don't leave it hanging. Some types of musical numbers you may want to consider are:
- Inviting an individual or several to sing
- Musical instruments only
- Children's choir
- Missionary choir
- Teachers/Presidency choir
- Parent Child choir
- Slideshow with pre recorded musical accompaniment
- Mormon Tabernacle Choir music video
Whichever you use, be sure to get your musical number approved by your Presidency beforehand.
Adjust Your Ending to a Comment
Did someone leave a comment that resonated well with everyone or sparked an idea of your own? If you can, use that comment in your ending. It'll show that you value comments in your class and make a more lasting impression. This will require you to adjust if not completely throw out your original ending but when you feel prompted, go for it!
End with a Challenge
Our lessons don't make much of difference if we don't inspire people to act. We want people to live the principles we are teaching about so end with a challenge and WRITE it down so you can follow up on it the next time you teach. If you don't teach for a couple of weeks be sure to ask the next teacher to follow up for you. Whatever challenge you give your class, you must be willing to do it as well if you didn't already do so leading up to your lesson. Don't ask anyone to do anything you wouldn't be willing to do yourself.
Quote and Testimony
There are a few lessons that have that perfect sentence that you can use to end your lesson. I recommend using your testimony in conjunction with the quote to leave a bigger impression. You could also end with a quote that your whole class says with you. If you do this, I recommend writing it on the board so all can read it with you or keeping the quote really short so it is not hard for everyone to repeat. Choral readings go more smoothly if you have talked about the quote earlier on in the lesson as well. You may even start your lesson with the quote and end with a choral reading of it. The above quote is from Howard W. Hunter Chapter 19 which talks about complete commitment to the gospel. This would be a great simple phrase to all say together at the end of your lesson provided you discussed the story of Rebekah earlier in your lesson.
Back to Board Work
Did you do a lot of board work? Go back to the board and point out the answers or discoveries you made as a class in your closing. Maybe there is one last connection you want to add to the board work in your closing to bring everything back together. You might erase the part of the board that listed failings or negatives to remind people to look up and stay focused on the good. Complete the board work as you close with your thoughts.
Story and Testimony
As you prepare your lesson, you will probably go through experiences that will strengthen your testimony of that principle or be reminded of a past experience. Share one of your recent personal stories with your testimony. Any way you can help your class actively see how the principle ties to their life directly really helps cement the principle in.
If you ever need a super simple and quick ending to your lesson, remember a testimony is always a great way to end your lesson. It's uplifting and leaves a lasting impression with the Spirit in the room.
Your Turn- How do you like to end your LDS lessons?