Monday, May 9, 2011

Especially for "newcomers" to Academic Support

Last week, Rebecca wrote about "Getting Together with Colleagues."  One line struck me as particularly important: "The primary value in the meeting," she wrote, "was the exchange of ideas between others in the Academic Success community." Newcomers to ASP: step right up and start asking questions! 

I joined the community in 1999.  My first assignment was to design and direct a program at Vermont Law School.  Although I had experience at designing and directing programs and helping students understand how to study more productively, none of that experience was law school experience.  The hiring committee was taking a risk by hiring someone who had only practiced law for two decades and taught in high schools and universities for a few years.  Thank goodness for the internet.  I don’t know how many times I typed “Law School Academic Support,” and “How to brief cases,” and “How to answer law school essay exams” in to AltaVista (yes, before Google was a household word), to find different perspectives. 

In those days, last century :-), there were few Academic Support meetings.  But as Amy Jarmon pointed out, "ASP folks are the kindest, most generous, most innovative, and helpful folks in the world in my viewpoint."  You bet, Amy! 

The ASP veterans ... Vernellia Randall, Ruta Stropus, Laurie Zimet, Paul Bateman, Linda Feldman, Kris Franklin, Ken Rosenblum, Paula Lustbader, Thorny Steele,  Kris Knaplund, Rich Litvin … (and others, I’m sure) helped me get my bearings, counseled me about what may work best for my students, and they infused in me a spirit I just can’t seem to shake after a dozen years!  When I was given the same chore at Roger Williams University School of Law (designing and directing), I turned to the same folks – along with so many others who had joined the village since I began – and found the same attitude: “How can I help you?  What do you need?”

The “community” is just that.  The Academic Support Village.  You find the villagers at the LSAC conferences (thanks to Kent Lollis), at the annual AALS meetings, and at regional gatherings that seem to pop up everywhere in the country.  Frankly, wherever two or more ASP professionals show up in the same room, the kind, generous, innovative help that Amy wrote about begins happening.  Guaranteed. 

In 2007 my wife and I moved to South America (we now live in Ecuador).  As much as I miss the face-to-face contact with the ASP villagers and the students we serve, I continue to work with law students as they struggle with how to score higher on exams (now as a Senior Instructor for Concord Law School, online).  And when I encounter a new problem – how to help a student with some aspect of exam-answering or bar exam prep (yes, there are always “new” problems, no matter how long you do this!), where do I turn?  The village.  For me, this comfortable neighborhood of McLuhan’s global village is where the answers are. 

How can I help?  Just ask. E-mail: [email protected]  (djt)

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