Wednesday, July 23, 2008
There is still plenty to report from the LWI conference last week, and we'll keep posting it here as our time allows.
On the last day of the conference, Professor Mary Garvey Algero from Loyola-New Orleans and Professor Robin Wellford Slocum from Chapman University gave a presentation on Beyond Powerpoint and Movie Clips: How to Reach Your Full Potential as a Teacher. In the audience, brand new and veteran legal writing professors had many an "ah-ha" moment.
Modeling the inter-active learning techniques that work well in the legal writing classroom, Mary and Robin asked members of the audience to turn to one or two people sitting near them to discuss some key questions about teachers and then volunteer their responses for projection at the front of the room. They asked each of us to recall a most favorite teacher we'd had as students and what made that person an excellent teacher. And they also asked to recall a least favorite teacher and why we saw that person that way. The list of qualities that evolved for both types of teachers had heads shaking. The key quality that emerged for excellence in teaching was authenticity, being your authentic self. Note that this exercise in which everyone participated took place successfully with about two hundred people in the room -- proof that active learning can take place even in large enrollment classes.
The presenters highly recommended a book by Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach (1998). Robin also shared a key insight about how our students progress in their learning: from unconscious incompetence, to conscious incompetence (a very uncomfortable stage), to conscious competence, to unconscious competence.