Implementing Exit Tickets in Middle & High School Math – Why I Failed Before & How I Fixed It

This is the fifth installment in the Everything You Ever Wanted To Know about Using Exit Tickets in your Math Classroom blogging series. If you haven’t already, check out the first four posts and then keep reading!

Read Post 1 here – 5 Reasons you Should be Using Exit Tickets in Your Middle & High School Math Class. This post covers what an exit ticket is and why you would want to use one in your math class.

Read Post 2 here – How often should I use an exit ticket? A secondary math teacher explains all. This post discusses how often you should be giving an exit ticket, and ways to save time in creating them so you can actually keep up and make it routine.

Read Post 3 here – How to Implement Exit Tickets like a Math Teacher Pro. This post discusses how to introduce them to your students and tips for actually remembering to give them each day!

Read Post 4 here – What do I do now? What to do with the exit tickets after your students hand them in. Reviewing, feedback, grading, and more! This post goves over all of the logistics and teacher-decisions behind what to do after your students actually complete an exit ticket. This one is jam-packed with easy-to-implement ideas!

Why I Failed Before, and How I Fixed It (AKA, learn from my mistakes)

When I was first trying to use exit slips regularly, I was trying to make them for multiple preps, every day, from SCRATCH!!! I don’t know what I was thinking. Well, I do—I wanted to do a good job for my students, but I sure wasn’t doing it in a way that was kind to myself. This was a huge process every day—thinking up a question per class that was in depth and would elicit the students’ responses in a way that was actually meaningful for me as a teacher was a huge task to add onto my already long list of things to prepare for the next day.  

I spent way too much time on it each day and it stressed me the heck out. As an exhausted teacher, this was one of the first things to fall off of my to-do list each day as I ran out of time as I was working into the late hours of the night preparing lessons. As a result, I just didn’t do it as regularly as I wanted to. When I finally did have time to throw together an exit slip it, it was so non-routine that my students struggled and it showed when they were asked to write about their thinking in other settings and it also took FOREVER because they weren’t used to doing them. Or, I had the opposite problem and I just had super similar exit slips every single day and it was an overly repetitive grind.

The exit ticket template: A game-changing epiphany

One summer, I had the epiphany of making templates for exit slips that could cover a variety of uses. Some could be in depth, some could be super quick check-ins, but I could do the work up front to create really great prompts and all I’d have to do is pick a problem from my textbook or a worksheet I found online that would pair well with the prompt.

Lesson learned: Don’t make a new exit ticket every day, make templates to save time!

It wasn’t easy remembering to use them every day at first (setting alarms on my phone was SO necessary for me for a while), but the time it took to plan for them was cut down immensely. I actually was using exit slips on a regular basis and my students were able to grow a lot in their ability to write about, explain, and justify their thinking in math. They were much stronger than before. I was also able to avoid those dreaded moments of grading a quiz only to realize the majority of my students totally missed a concept. I was much more in tune with my students, and this gave them the perfect way to communicate with me.

Lesson learned: Set an alarm or put a student in charge of reminding you to do it every day!

I hope you learned something about how to use and implement exit slips in your math classroom! If you’d like to save yourself some time, here are my 5 tried and true exit slip templates that I use in my own classroom!

Let me know in the comments below if you have any further questions!

You can read the special edition, bonus installment of this blogging series, “How to make a digital exit ticket: turn your exit tickets DIGITAL!,” here.


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