Thursday, October 11, 2007
So what exactly would be a splurge or an indulgence on a grading diet? Skipping a paper or grading an extra one?
I will note that I have taught legal writing at three law schools now, and while I have seen people grading a lot of papers in extended sessions at each one, there's one pattern I have seen practiced only by males: the binge grading session. That is, start at the top of the stack and work through it steadily without stopping until all the papers are done, even if that's 24 or 30 hours later.
Has anyone else 1) seen this approach or 2) seen it practiced by women?
Just curious . . . my sample size is certainly limited.
It's mid-semester in most U.S. law schools. Legal writing professors can easily fill the work day just preparing for class, teaching class, meeting with students, helping with faculty law school governance, and working on edits of their own summer writing. And somehow, during these already busy work days, we have to find time for our most crucial and time-consuming professional task: critiquing our students' papers. It is through these critiques that we provide one-on-one legal writing instruction for our students, serving as reader responder, coach, and professional guide. It is a task that needs to be done with care and consideration. Most legal writing professors are beyond the time in their lives when all-nighters are possible. And most do have outside lives. So how to find the time?
Try putting yourself on a diet, the grading diet. Say you have 40 students. They have just handed in their first memos. You need to critique and grade those memos in time for the feedback to be useful as they write their second memos. And so you've determined that they'll need your feedback within ten days. So you go on the grading diet. In this hypothetical situation, your diet would be four papers a day. Every day for the next ten days, straight through the weekend, you must grade four papers. Once you are up to steam, for a first memo, that might mean in the neighborhood of two hours a day of paper grading. Day in and day out, rain or shine, for ten days. And then you'll be done.
Most days two hours won't be a terrible burden. You won't have any marathon grading sessions in which your hand(s) and brain go numb. You won't lose sleep. And you'll be able to give freshly focused attention to each paper. So next time your grading is fraught with angst and late nights, consider going on the grading diet.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Professor Diane Murley forwarded this story:
"This particular bump made me think of my old journalism teacher at the University of Minnesota, Robert Lindsay, a gruff man with a big shiny head with a deep dent in it. The dent looked like a direct hit by a mortar shell. Professor Lindsay had fought in World War II and the Korean War as a U.S. Marine, retiring with the rank of captain, and now he was teaching a writing course to sophomores five days a week, a fresh assignment every day.
"Though we were in journalism, none of us spoke up in class and asked Mr. Lindsay how he got that dent in his head. We were scared of him. He had a rule that any writing assignment that contained a misspelling would be an automatic F, which struck us as horribly unfair. What if you wrote something utterly brilliant but had misspelled one little teeny-tiny word? 'If you're not sure, look it up,' he said. 'Learn what to be sure of and what not to be.'
"We think we want teachers for our children who will nurture and encourage them (You Are All Special, Each In Your Own Way, So Be Yourself And Follow Your Dream), but Mr. Lindsay was a teacher who gave good value. I was not a proofreader when I enrolled in his course and when I got out, I was. I still am. Simple as that. And he brought an ex-Marine's eye to lit'ry pretensions that had served me well in high school and he triple-underlined them and wrote, 'What's this about?' in the margin. And sometimes 'B.S.' And once he wrote, 'Oh for God's sake.'"
Garrison Keillor, A Good Hard Bump, Salon, Aug. 29, 2007
Monday, October 8, 2007
Several national-level reports are now circulating around the U.S. legal academy, and Mercer Law School's Annual Law Review Symposium will focus on them. The symposium, on the Carnegie Report, Educating Lawyers, and CLEA's Best Practices for Legal Education: A Vision and a Road Map, is scheduled for November 9 from 9:40 until 4:00. It will feature the two principal authors of the Carnegie Report, Judith Wegner and Bill Sullivan, and Roy Stuckey, principal author of the CLEA report. Mercer Law School welcomes all who are interested to this event. Mercer is in Macon, Georgia, about an hour's drive south of Atlanta, and a great town for a fall get-away weekend.
hat tip: Dean Daisy Hurst Floyd
The very supportive administration at Texas Tech University School of Law has approved a stipend program for Legal Practice 405(c) faculty who engage in scholarship and outside service activities such as conference presentations. This stipend is separate from and in addition to the already-available research assistant and travel funds.
This program is significant because there is no counterpart for the tenure-track faculty, whose contract and pay structure requires summer teaching or scholarship (hence there was no program that could simply be extended to the LP profs). The administration recognized as appropriate compensating the LP faculty who go above and beyond the requirements of their positions and approved the program accordingly.
This is the same administration team that, in 5 years, increased our starting salary by over 1/3. The LP faculty members have also received dollar-equivalent raises to those of the tenure-track faculty, which has meant close to 10% raises two years in a row.
Sunday, October 7, 2007
For all you baseball fans in the world of legal writing . . . . While you're waiting for the World Series to begin, you can find some grading distraction by playing "Oyez Baseball," an online quiz from the Oyez Project and Justia that compares Supreme Court Justices to baseball players. Why? Here's a quote from the site that tries to explain the fascination:
Some justices, like some players, are blessed with skills that not only generate tremendous personal achievements, but can transform their institutions, and sometimes even American culture. Others are quickly forgettable, while most toil somewhere in between. The qualities that make some justices great and others mediocre are difficult to explain fully and justify to those unversed in the Court's work. But most everyone understands baseball-and baseball may be the best way to reveal greatness or mediocrity. Hence, Oyez® Baseball.
Enjoy! Hat tip: Cleveland-Marshall Law Library blog.
On the topic of grading:
hat tip: Professor Myra Orlen, Western New England College School of Law