October 29, 2005
Amy Jarmon, Assistant Dean for Academic Success at Texas Tech School of Law, posted a thoughtful comment about Mario Mainero's recent blog entry. I'm posting it here so y'all will be sure to read it. Thanks, Amy!
I thoroughly agree with Mario (at least I assume that mwm is Mario)about the importance of listening to our students to become more aware of the truth of their hearts and thus better equipping oIurselves to help. In my first career, I spent 17 years working with undergraduates before I switched to law school and law practice – 10 of those higher ed years in academic support. After working with thousands of undergraduates, I found that few academic problems were solely academic. Most of the academic problems were linked in some manner to personal, medical, family, or financial problems.
With law students, I have found that the same is often the case. Having been an ASP professional at two law schools as well as Acting Assistant Dean for Law Student Services at one of those, I have talked with many students about the disruptions, hardships, and tragedies that they have faced outside the classroom. In fact, I think it is a miracle that some of my students do as well as they do (probation or just over the required 2.00) under their circumstances.
The law students with outside problems often tell me that they appreciate not only my academic advice but also my willingness to listen. For some of them, ASP is a "safe harbor" where they do not have to put on a brave face. They know that I ultimately care about them as people as well as law students.
Obviously, we need to refer appropriately to psychologists, doctors, and other professionals. I keep those lists handy. But, I find that my students are more willing to accept a referral to those others if I have listened to their worries and fears. My willingness to listen fosters their willingness to trust my referral as being for their ultimate benefit.
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