Friday, January 30, 2009

Responsibility for Teaching and Responsibility for Learning

I believe in humanizing legal education.  I believe in life balance.  I believe in improved teaching methods.  I believe in diversity in learning styles.  I believe in listening carefully and trying to help.  I believe in bending over backwards for students who are trying to learn.  I believe in spreading the wealth of ASP knowledge so that all can have more efficient and effective study methods.  I take responsibility for being the best ASP professional as I can.  And, I know many faculty colleagues who work equally hard at teaching.

I also believe that students need to take responsibility.  Students ultimately need to be responsible for their learning.  Students need to be responsible for working hard.  Students need to attend classes.  Students need to prepare for classes.  Students need to self-monitor their learning.  Students need to study more than 20 hours per week.  Students need to review material rather than cram.  Students need to set some limits on their social calendars.  And, when they do not know how to do any of these tasks effectively, then they need to take responsibility to seek help from faculty members, ASP staff, tutors/teaching assistants, counselors, and others.

I do not believe that we serve our students well when we let them descend into non-stop whining and avoiding of their academic responsibilities.  We are hopefully preparing them to be excellent practitioners as well as excellent human beings.  Responsibility is part of both roles.  (Amy Jarmon)         

January 30, 2009 in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Learning Life Skills

Many law students are surprised when I announce some of the topics that we will work on in our weekly sessions.  They expect me to talk only about reading and briefing cases, outlining course material, and taking tests.  Instead, I add a number of life skills to the list: managing time, curbing procrastination, using learning styles, promoting memory, and managing stress.

At first some students are skeptical that these skills will have much impact on their grades.  However, as we explore these topics, my students begin to realize that law school is not just about torts, contracts, wills and trusts, or other legal topics.  Yes, the legal course material is important; it is not everything for success, however.

I meet some law students who are intellectually bewildered by legal analysis and unable to succeed.  But more often I meet students who are unable to tap their potential because they do not know how to set up a serious study regime for a very different intellectual challenge. 

Law school is not as much of a special place for special people as some would like the outside world to think.  Yes, it is difficult.  Yes, you have to be intelligent.  Yes, you have to be committed.  But, no, you do not have to study round the clock, lose sleep, and never see your family or friends.  The old adage about studying "smarter" does hold true.   

Time management is critical to good law school grades.  A rigorous time management schedule can help students make time for all of the different tasks: reading and briefing, reviewing before class, making outlines, reviewing outlines, memorizing rules, applying the law to practice questions, and writing memos or papers.  Most of my students who go from poor or mediocre grades to high grades will study outside of class for 50-55 hours per week.  Most of these same students were used to studying less than 20 hours per week outside of class when they came to law school.  Although "front loading" one's studying sounds daunting, it works far better than the alternative of cramming.  Consistent time management throughout a semester is rewarded by deeper understanding of material, greater retention of material, more sleep, less guilt, less stress, greater life-school balance - oh, and better grades. 

Procrastination is highly prevalent as I mentioned in my posting last week.  A number of strategies can be implemented by students to chip away at their procrastination tendencies.  Curbing procrastination means better time management.  Better time management means less procrastination. 

We rarely enter settings where material is presented specifically for our precise learning styles (absorption and processing).  However, if students know how to use their own preference combinations, they can learn more efficiently and effectively because 1) they know how to convert material to their own advantage and 2) they can use strategies to learn when they are confronted with their non-preferences.  Furthermore, they can adapt their learning style strategies for group or "solo" learning.

The student grapevine thrives on study myths that fly in the face of research on memory.  By understanding how memory works, students suddenly realize the disadvantages of cramming and depending on working memory (aka short-term memory).  Unlike undergraduate education where they had a number of courses they saw as superfluous to "real life" and unworthy of memory retention past the exams, most law courses have a longer "shelf life."  When I mention that good memory work during law school can mean less re-learning of material during bar review or later legal research, the light bulb goes on for students.

By proactively using all of these other life skills, students are able to lessen stress.  Learning additional methods to cope with stress can increase their resilience in any stressful environment.  Life balance becomes easier to attain when life skills come into focus.

Being more successful in law school is usually enough incentive for law students to tap their potential.  However, when I talk about how these same life skills will benefit them in the daily world of legal practice, the skills take on another meaning.  Any attorney can expound on time management, procrastination, learning style differences in meetings/teams, retention of the law, and stress.  If one gains good life skills during law school, one's life after law school will be far more pleasant.  (Amy Jarmon) 

       

January 29, 2009 in Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Job at Hofstra School of Law

Assistant/Associate Professor of Academic Support

HOFSTRA UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW

Hofstra University School of Law invites applicants for the position of Assistant/Associate Professor of Academic Support. This is a full-time, renewable contract faculty position.

The Law School’s Academic Support professors have primary responsibility for teaching and counseling students to help them make adjustments to the academic demands of law school and to develop skills to reach their full academic potential for performance in law school, on the bar exam, and in the legal profession.  Included within these responsibilities are the following:

1) Administering and teaching of first-year and upper-level classes and workshops for students in need of academic support;

2) Assisting in the planning and implementation of first-year orientation programs;

3) Working with students in individual and small group sessions;

4) Identifying and assisting students who need additional academic support;

5) Designing and implementing innovative academic support programs;

6) Assisting with facilitation of the law school’s bar exam preparation programs and bar-exam related events.

Applicants must have a J.D., strong academic record, and background demonstrating a potential for excellence in academic support and an understanding of developments in legal pedagogy. Experience in law school academic support programs or other relevant teaching experience is strongly preferred. The successful candidate must possess strong organizational and interpersonal skills, the ability to work collaboratively with all members of the law school community, and excellent writing and speaking skills. Salary is commensurate with experience.

Hofstra University is an equal opportunity employer, committed to fostering diversity in its faculty, administrative staff and student body, and encourages applications from the entire spectrum of a diverse community.

Send a resume and writing sample to:
Professor Roy Simon
C/o Rachel Muganda
Hofstra University School of Law
121 Hofstra University
Hempstead, NY 11549-1210

AN AFFIRMATIVE ACTION/EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER

January 28, 2009 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Job Listing-St. Mary's Law (May be Tenure Track!)

ACADEMIC SUPPORT PROFESSOR
St. Mary’s University
School of Law

St. Mary’s University School of Law invites applications for the position of Academic Support Professor.  The law faculty has recently voted to create a faculty position that can begin on June 1, 2009.  The person filling this new, full-time position will be a member of the law faculty with multi-year contracts and the opportunity to apply for tenure-track if interested and suitably qualified.  The salary for the position of academic support professor will be commensurate with the qualifications and experience of the person employed, and also comparable to salaries paid tenure-track teachers with similar experience.

St. Mary’s University School of Law is located in the City of San Antonio.  The city is known for its tourist attractions, but also boasts a multi-cultural environment with an active legal and business community.  The Law School seeks to serve the South Texas region of the state, but also enrolls a geographically diverse student body. 

The Academic Support Professor will be responsible for designing and administering the academic support programs as required by the law faculty.  These tasks will be undertaken with the support and supervision of the Academic Support Committee of the law faculty.  We want programs that help our students improve their study, analytical, and test-taking skills so they will obtain the greatest benefit from the educational opportunity offered at the Law School.  Our broader goal is to help students prepare themselves for law school, for success in passing the bar exam, and for the competent and ethical practice of law.

The Academic Support Professor will work with law school faculty and administrators to support first-year students in adjusting successfully to law school and to enhance the educational development of second- and third year students.  Depending on interest and qualifications (and subject to faculty approval), the Academic Support Professor may also occasionally teach academic or skills courses within the law school. In addition, the Law School encourages and will provide support for the Academic Support Professor to engage in research and professional development activities in the academic support field.

QUALIFICATIONS:
A juris doctor degree from an ABA-accredited law school is a desirable qualification. An applicant should also have a strong academic record.  In addition, an applicant should have excellent written and verbal communication skills, and should have considerable (3-5 years) experience with an existing law school academic support program.  An applicant will be asked to provide a written description of the programs he or she would design for our students and make an oral presentation on that subject to the faculty.
Professor Laurie Zimet of the University of California, Hastings College of Law, has agreed to act as consultant to the Law School during the search.  To apply, send your resume with a cover letter by mail to Professor David Dittfurth, One Camino Santa Maria, San Antonio, Texas 78228, or by email to  <ddittfurth@stmarytx.edu> .  If you have questions, please call David Dittfurth at one of the following: (210) 431-2206; 824-6718; or 316-7483.     Applications will be received at any time beginning on January 12, 2009, and continue until the position is filled.
St. Mary’s University School of Law is an equal opportunity employer. Women and minorities are strongly encouraged to apply for this position.

January 27, 2009 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)