Thursday, April 15, 2010

Reflecting on Banquet Season

Having just attended a dinner reception for newly admitted students, I happily reminisced upon my first year as a 1L.  For understandable reasons, the members of my dining table were more interested in my experience as a law student rather than my experience as the Bar Studies Program Director.  


Questions slowly emerged from the eager faces of soon to be law students.  Our conversation was filled with mainly me answering questions like: "What was your biggest challenge during your first year?", "What about the job market and the economy?" and "How can I make it onto Law Review?"  Ah, to be a 1L...

Since I am coming up on the 10th anniversary of my graduation from law school in May, seeing the view from "the other side of the podium" was a nice departure from the grading that has been consuming most of my time lately and a good reminder of the importance of self reflection.  

Reflecting on where we have been, where our journey has taken us and presently where we dwell, transforms past actions and life events into insightful future guides.  Sometimes it takes a reception or banquet for us to take a moment to stop focusing on the future or our next lesson plan to realize the importance of looking back.  Tonight was that night.  The energy in the room was palpable with dozens of tables brimming with new law students embarking on the beginning of their passage into the legal profession.  Capturing this moment of hope and wonder reinvigorated my commitment to teaching and allowed me to reflect on the lessons it has taught me and how to best reach my students.

As the year comes abruptly to a close and 3L's amble through the final weeks of their time in law school, their energy tends to resemble a wilting flower instead of a bursting balloon.  Summoning the vibe from the reception, I try to infuse the overflowing energy from the room full of starry-eyed newly admitted students into my 3L's about to face finals and ultimately the bar exam this summer.  Encouraging them to recapture that energy that too easily escapes them will assist them in managing all that lies ahead.

During one of our last class sessions of the semester, I will ask my students to call upon the time when they too, as newly admitted students, were sitting at the dinner reception or orientation speaking with faculty, staff and alumni of the law school.  As they recall their anticipation, excitement and even sheer terror juxtaposed with their impending graduation, I hope they are able to engage their emotions, revitalize their dream and invoke the self efficacy that is necessary to achieve success on the bar exam and in their future legal careers.
(lby)

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