Saturday, October 1, 2011

Giving when it hurts

ASP'ers are a caring group. They are often the ones students turn to in their darkest moments. It is not unusual for us to be privy to students' struggles and hardships outside the classroom.

Students tell us about illnesses in their families, scary medical diagnoses, deaths of friends, personal embarrassments, relationship problems, disappointments, and more. They need someone who will encourage them, support them, listen, and make referrals where appropriate. At the end of a day with 8 or 9 appointments, at least 2 of those typically are more than just a discussion about academic issues.

But what about when we have had a personal tragedy, illness, family issue, or other unexpected speed bump in our own lives? How do we keep caring when it hurts inside? We need to remember that we need solace as well. We need to put on our "brave face" and do our jobs, but need to take care of ourselves.

So here are some tips to help you focus on your students even when you are feeling depleted, tired, emotionally wrought, and distracted by your life outside the walls of the law school:

  • Take some personal time off if possible. Even a long weekend can make a difference in your ability to focus. Give yourself lots of rest, permission to do nothing, and access to emotional or medical support. Talk to trusted family or friends to get support.
  • Prioritize your work. What must get done? What can be put off for a few days or weeks? What can be forgotten about for this semester and added to the "do next semester" list?Do not try to soldier on when you do not have the strength temporarily to be "Super-ASP'er."
  • Just say "no" or "not right now" to new projects if you do not have the stamina or concentration to do them well. Realize that this is probably not the time to chair a new committee, agree to design a new web site, or implement a new program.
  • Balance your day. Give yourself at least one block of project time so that you can focus without interruptions. Decide how many one-on-one appointments you can do without being emotionally drained. Schedule appointments so that purely academic assistance is mixed with students whom you know need emotional support so that you do not become exhausted with the need to be "giving" when you really need to protect yourself emotionally.
  • Stay patient with your students. Some law students become overwrought about things that those of us with more life experience know are not crises. They see add/drop period and course decisions as earth-shattering. They feel outraged when a professor leaves them to struggle with processing a sub-topic instead of spoon-feeding them. They are devastated by their first low grade in 16 or more years of education.
  • Tell some trusted colleagues what is going on. Your boss may need to know so that you can re-negotiate project deadlines, agree to some days off, or explain some changes you have made in priorities. A few colleagues who can task share or just be supportive will be a plus.
  • Follow our own advice to students. Get enough sleep. Eat well. Exercise. Go to the doctor. Get help from a religious leader, professional counselor, or others if needed.
  • Realize some students may notice something is wrong. Some of us are able to look stunningly pulled together even on stressful days and through personal crises. However, most of us look at least somewhat haggard, tired, and stressed - just like we feel. We can still smile, appear superficially cheerful, and pretend to be energetic. However, a few students who work with us a lot are likely to realize that something is wrong. If asked, beg off with "a bad night's sleep," "busy and a little distracted," or "a touch of a bug."

ASP'ers are folks with big hearts for their students.  Life hurts sometimes.  Be there for your students, but take care of yourself when you need to do so.  (Amy Jarmon)

 

 

October 1, 2011 in Encouragement & Inspiration, Miscellany, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Welcome Heather Gutterud to Whittier Law

Heather Gutterud has joined the Whittier Law School Academic Support Program as an Academic Support Program Fellow after graduating from Whittier Law School magna cum laude in the spring. While a student at Whittier, Ms. Gutterud served as a teaching assistant for several classes and was Associate Editor of Law Review. More information about Heather can be found on Whittier web pages here: Heather Gutterud Profile.

When you see Heather at a workshop, please give her a heart-felt ASP welcome!

September 30, 2011 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Welcome to Halle Hara at Capital University

Halle Hara has joined Capital University School of Law as Professor and Director of Academic Success Protocol.  She comes to ASP work after more than 13 years of practice experience and extensive legal writing and publication experience.  You can find more information about Halle on the Capital University web site: Halle Hara Faculty Profile.  Please welcome Halle to ASP work!

September 29, 2011 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Two positions at Barry School of Law

Barry University School of Law is continuing its search for an Assistant Dean of Bar Preparation and Academic Success, and a Director of Academic Success.  Both positions offer a competitive salary and benefits.  Complete descriptions and information may be accessed on our human resources page at http://www.barry.edu/jobs/default.aspx.  Under the job category search, select “Executive” and under the location search, select “School of Law.”

True to its nickname, “The City Beautiful,” Orlando also offers amazing theme park attractions, friendly neighborhoods, and excellent schools. Please forward this announcement to anyone you think may be interested in these wonderful opportunities. 

 

September 28, 2011 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Essay Exam Answering Tip #92611 – Begging the Question

When grading exam answers, professors reward logical, persuasive presentations. Resolving issues using logical fallacies earns no points.

One pitfall to avoid is the use of a circular argument.  This is also known as “begging the question." This fallacy occurs when one assumes the truth of what one is attempting to prove in the very effort to prove it. In other words, an argument is fallacious when the conclusion lies buried in the premise(s) used to reach that conclusion. Question-begging arguments often mask themselves in clever rhetoric. They can be easy to miss because they often sound good.

Example: “The Supreme Court’s power of judicial review is inherently undemocratic. When unelected judges reign supreme in the exposition of the Constitution, it cannot be said that we have a government ‘of the people, by the people, and for the people.’”

Explanation: The writer is assuming the truth of what she is trying to prove in the very effort to prove it. If you look at these two sentences closely, you will see that they are essentially paraphrases of one another. Because the second sentence is longer and more complex, it tends to trick us into thinking that it is a logically distinct idea — but it is not.

This example if from Neal Ramee’s Logic and Legal Reasoning: A Guide for Law Students, in which Mr. Ramee correctly explains, “Learning how to spot and avoid such logical fallacies can enormously strengthen your legal writing and advocacy by helping you adhere to the ‘pristine logic’ of correct syllogistic reasoning.”  (Recommendation: read Mr. Ramee’s 10-page “guide.”)

Begging the question — from the Latin petitio principii — arises all too often in exam answers. If you write, “The contract is enforceable because it fulfills the validity requirements” or, “Defendant is liable for negligence because of his negligent conduct,” you’re begging the question. Each of these statements lacks the point-scoring analysis your professor is looking for.  The Contracts essay answer needs to state the elements that establish validity (or enforceability) and to show how the facts in the narrative fulfill the requirements. The Torts answer ought to specify precisely what the negligent conduct is and the rationale behind the conclusion that this conduct is negligent.

Remember that stating the “right” answer (for example, that a party was negligent) is not what scores the points in an essay answer — rather, points are scored by your logical, organized interweaving of the facts with the elements of the law in a compelling analytical presentation.

{This “tip” is one of a continuing series.  Law school academic professionals are authorized to use this material in their work however they choose — and law students who read these tips are encouraged to integrate them into their practice sessions. To see where this tip fits in the grand schema: Click here.} (djt) 

September 26, 2011 in Advice, Writing | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)