Sunday, July 29, 2012

Getting ready for a new academic year

I am surprised every summer when August 1st comes around.  The summer looks so long and full of possibilities right after graduation.  However, it always ends too quickly for everything I would like to accomplish in my grandest dreams.

There are some things, however, that I try to complete each summer to prepare for the next semester as well as recharge my batteries.

Here are some of the things that I find help me most to "get my house in order" and approach the upcoming academic year with enthusiasm:

  • I critique the handouts and Power Point slides that I use for student workshops to see what changes need to be made.  Often during the academic year, I have thought of new examples to use, new ways of explaining information, or gained insights from my students.  By revamping my materials regularly, I am able to offer better information and get excited about the new techniques that I can pass on to students in the coming months.
  • I revamp my four-week course for our Summer Entry Program.  It is easy to get lulled into doing things exactly the same each year because the program works so well with our current format.  However, by challenging myself to find better ways of teaching the material and by incorporating suggestions from last summer, I keep myself and the material fresh.  The changes may be small tweaks in many places and major rethinks in a few spots, but they all focus on giving 100% to the students.
  • I review publishers' catalogs and order library books for our study aids/academic success library to get the newest editions or series within my budget allotment.  It is always exciting to see what new volumes my ASP colleagues have published! 
  • I critique administrative tasks to find ways to be more efficient and effective.  For tasks where I interface with other offices, I brainstorm better ways that we can communicate.  For my own tasks, I review my calendar for the last year to make notes about when I should schedule certain tasks during the coming year and changes that I need to make.
  • I sort through my e-mail archives and delete e-mails that are not needed any longer.  If I have time, I also sort through my Word files to delete outdated or unwanted items that have been overlooked.   
  • I catch up on some professional reading.  During the summer, I try to read at least one book related to legal education, academic success, or education theory.  I also work my way through a stack of articles that I have collected throughout the year but never had time to read.
  • I pull out my folder of thank you notes and e-mails from students and read through them.  This task allows me to remember why I do what I do and encourages me to continue to impact student lives for the better.  It reminds me to focus on being a blessing to my students in small as well as large ways.

By the time Orientation begins, I am ready for a new crop of 1Ls and our returning students.  My housekeeping for ASP is done, and I am ready to start the cycle all over again.  (Amy Jarmon) 

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/academic_support/2012/07/growing-professionally-as-an-asper.html

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