Friday, February 26, 2010
Our part of Texas has had an abnormal winter. In my 6 years here, I do not remember so much bitter cold, sleet, and snow. I have had to use my snow shovel more than I ever remember. (At least I own one compliments of years in Ohio and Central Virginia.) Every time it gets nice (like yesterday at 70 degrees), the weather switches again. The cold front is moving in and "rain or wintry mix" is predicted.
Those of you in typical snow country have been snowed under more than usual. Those of you who have not seen snow in at least a decade have seen snow also. As if the weather were not bad enough, students and staff are at home with flu, colds, and other ailments.
Even during better winters, students always seem to have the blahs during January, February, and the beginning of March. After all, there isn't any of the excitement that accompanies fall semester with its "new start" and optimism. Spring semester is more of the same. Add shorter daylight. Add 1L professors moving more quickly through harder material than in the fall semester. Add 3L students who no longer care and just count the days. Add the stress of too many student organization responsibilities. Add the stress of a less than stellar job market.
It is no wonder that students have a lack of motivation. Exam period is getting closer. But, Spring Break does not seem close enough. Here are some hints for staying focused despite rampant blahs:
- Take one day at a time. Groaning that the break is too distant or that exams are coming up focuses somewhere outside today's realm of possibility. You can control what happens today.
- Large tasks often encourage lethargy. Break the task into small pieces. Forty pages of Payment Systems reading becomes eight blocks of five pages. A trial brief becomes a list of small research, writing, and editing tasks.
- Add more rewards into your schedule for staying on task. By having something to look forward to, you can convince yourself it is okay to work. Choose rewards with meaning for you personally (a bubble bath, a 1/2-hour sitcom, a longer lunch) and match them to the difficulty of the task (bigger rewards for bigger accomplishments).
- Find an accountability partner. Keep each other on track by asking one another if the tasks for the day were accomplished. If you have to "report in" to someone else, you are more likely to stop procrastinating.
- Avoid those people who turn grouchy with winter. Some folks are like hibernating bears awakened too early and really angry about it. They can color your view of life. Everyone is allowed to groan a bit, but it gets old fast if it is endless.
- Get some exercise. It doesn't have to be skiing or ice hockey. If you hate the cold, bundle up and go to a warm swimming pool or indoor running circuit. It is easy to let the weather make us all sedentary lumps.
Students usually brighten up once daylight starts to get longer and hints of spring turn into the real thing. The trick is staying focused until that happens. (Amy Jarmon)
AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF LAW SCHOOLS – 2011 Conference
A Joint Program of the Sections on Balance in Legal Education and Academic Support
Co-Sponsored by the Section on Student Services
Theme: “Beyond Humanizing: Can – and Should – Law Schools Strive to Graduate Happy Students?”
Students often enter law school with goals of helping others, improving peoples’ lives, and making the world a better place. By the time they graduate, however, other considerations have supplanted students’ pro-social inclinations. Their aspirations succumb to more extrinsic values, such as prestige and money, and are often faced with the realities of time pressure and the dehumanizing effects of legal education. Despite the prestige associated with being an attorney, the profession is not ranked in the top ten for job satisfaction or happiness. In fact, one recent study revealed that a majority of practitioners would not recommend law to a young person.
Three AALS Sections, Balance in Legal Education, Academic Support, and Student Services will be hosting a program in which we explore the causes of lawyer distress, the role legal education plays in producing unhappy law students and lawyers, and the concrete steps law schools are currently taking or could take to combat those causes. The Program Committees invite proposals that provide concrete demonstrations of ways doctrinal, clinical, legal writing, and academic support professors and student services professionals are addressing these concerns.
The Program Committees will give preference to presentations designed to actively engage the workshop audience, so proposals should contain a detailed explanation of both the substance of the presentation and the interactive methods to be employed. In addition, we would like to highlight talent across a spectrum of law schools and will look for variety in presentations and presenters. Based on participant numbers for the last several years, we anticipate over 150 people will be attending the program. To assist the presenters in the interactive piece, the program committee members and other volunteers will be on hand to act as facilitators with audience members.
Proposals must be one page and include the following information:
1. A title for your presentation.
2. A brief description of the objectives or outcomes of your presentation.
3. A brief description of how your presentation will support your stated objectives or outcomes.
4. The amount of time allocated for your presentation and for the interactive exercise. No single presenter should exceed 45 minutes in total time allowed. Presentations as short as 15 minutes will be welcomed.
5. If warranted, a detailed description of how the presentation will be interactive.
6. Whether you plan to distribute handouts, use PowerPoint, or employ other technology.
7. Your school affiliation, title, courses taught and contact information (include email address and telephone number).
Optional and on a separate page: A list of the conferences at which you have presented within the last three years, such as AALS, national or regional conferences, or other academic conferences. (The committees are interested in this information because we wish to select and showcase seasoned, as well as fresh, talent.) Any articles or books that you have published describing the technique(s) you will be demonstrating.
Send proposals by March 15, 2010 via email (preferably in a Word Document) to Prof. Emily Randon, University of California, Davis School of Law, at email@example.com. Phone number: 530-752-3434.
Questions?: If you have questions, feel free to contact Emily Randon, Program Chair for the Academic Support Section, Andrew Faltin, Program Chair for the Balance Section, at firstname.lastname@example.org or Catherine Glaze, Student Services Section at email@example.com.