Monday, July 23, 2018

Planning for the Fall

July is almost over.  The hard work over the summer comes to an end, which means, it is time to ramp up for the fall semester!  As one chapter closes, I will usher in a new 1L class and begin bar prep with the rising 3Ls.  I must have ignored the post from a few weeks ago about taking a break.

The last few days have not felt like the end of summer in Oklahoma with a triple digit heat index every day, but I consider the bar exam the end of summer.  I will teach legal analysis to all the entering 1Ls and also a year-long bar prep class to rising 3Ls.  This will be my 4th year teaching legal analysis and my 10th year teaching a version of the 3L bar class.  After that many years, the easy route is to pull last year’s syllabi, change the dates, and post it for students.  However, I encourage everyone to consider adding something new.

Adding new items to a course or program seems daunting.  There are always more pieces than originally considered.  Between meetings, normal preparations, and taking a breath before the semester begins, adding something new seems difficult.  I have a couple suggestions that may help all of us do a little more this year.

  1. Schedule time for new ideas. We implore our students to schedule everything.  I encourage all of us to do the same.  Block out 30 minutes to an hour each day prior to school beginning.  Use that time to implement 1-2 new ideas.
  1. Look back through AASE materials. The great ideas from AASE get lost in the summer shuffle sometimes.  Make a deliberate effort to look at those materials for new ideas.
  1. Check your sticky notes. This may be more for me, but when I think of new ideas, I write them down on sticky notes on my desk.  Looking through those may jog your memory of what to do.  I also write down activities that didn’t work as well or slight modifications needed for class.  Keeping a running list is helpful because remembering the next year is difficult.
  1. Choose something small. You don’t have to transform your class, workshops, or department in 1 semester.  Most of us tell students to get gradually better through practice.  1% better every day makes a huge different in the long run.  The same is true for our courses and workshops.  A little better each time will make a huge impact.

The last few weeks before classes begin is normally a mad dash to get everything ready.  Try to spend a little time adding a few new ideas to make the coming year just a little better.  Enjoy the next few weeks.

(Steven Foster)

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