Friday, October 1, 2021

ASP Exciting Works in Progress

This weekend, I attended the Central States Law Schools Association Scholarship Conference and ASP was well-represented. each speaker gave a talk highlighting their current works and sought feedback from the audience of faculty members. Here is just a sampling of the ASP presentations:

Cassie Christopher, Texas Tech School of Law
A Modern Diploma Privilege: A Path Rather Than a Gate

Michele Cooley, IU McKinney School of Law
But I’m Paying for This!: Student Consumerism and Its Impact on
Academic and Bar Support

Danielle Kocal, Pace Law School
A Professor's Guide to Teaching Gen Z

Blake Klinkner, Washburn School of Law
Is Discovery Becoming More Proportional? A Quantitative Assessment of
Discovery Orders Following the 2015 Proportionality Amendment to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26

Leila Lawlor, Georgia State College of Law
Comparative Analysis of Graduation and Retention Rates

Chris Payne-Tsoupros
Curricular Tracking as a Denial of the “Free Appropriate Public Education”
Guaranteed to Students with Disabilities under the IDEA

I was delighted to see so many ASPers presenting Works in Progress, and I cannot wait to read and cite your published works! 

(Marsha Griggs)

October 1, 2021 in Academic Support Spotlight, Bar Exams, Guest Column, Meetings, News, Publishing, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 20, 2021

Zoom Plus

One of the ways we support our students who are on academic warning or probation is to require them to take a second-year course in Legal Analysis and Methods. The title is vague enough to appear on a transcript without stigma to the student and, as a side benefit, it also gives us a lot of latitude in what we teach in the course. In my section of Methods, I teach study and exam skills as well as a smidge of legal writing, a dash of argumentation, and a bissel[1] of statutory construction/interpretation.  I also conference with students one-on-one towards the beginning of the semester to check in on an ungraded “getting to know you” assignment and to try to understand how they got stuck, I mean were fortunate enough to enroll, in this class.

I had a set “script” for these conferences. At the beginning of each conference, we discussed the ungraded assignment (there is written feedback for everyone as well). I thanked each student for doing a great job in our simulated legislature class last week (seriously, the Massachusetts legislature could learn from them).  Then, I asked about the other classes they are taking to see where there might be stress points.

Finally, I ask about the elephant in the room, “How do you find yourself on Academic Warning/Probation?” I intentionally use the passive voice. If a student says they had some “personal problems,” I do not ask for details, I just ask if the issues are resolved (or resolving), and if our Dean of Students’ office is aware of them just in case they need some higher power intervention. If a student says they had issues on exams, I make a note of the type of exam it was for future classes on exam skills. Now granted, I knew some of the students coming into these conferences because we met regularly last year. Other than now knowing how tall they really are and confirming that they do indeed have legs, I didn’t need to hear how they got here, but I did need to know how they were doing now.

This year, like all years, I take notes of these meetings. As I flipped through the legal pad for these conferences after meeting with my 22 students, I saw one word show up at the end of my notetaking for every single student, “Zoom.” This was the always part of the answer to how they found themselves in academic trouble.

Zoom or remote learning wasn’t the whole problem for most students: it was Zoom plus. Students told me that last year was not academically successful because of Zoom plus: ADD, ADHD, anxiety, dyslexia, having COVID, having a family member with COVID, having a chaotic living situation, having a bad internet connection, and so on. But remote learning was, as one student put it, “at least 30-40% of the issue.” Everyone in the remote learning situation-those of us teaching and the students learning- were all trying our best. The bottom line is that remote learning does not work for everyone. These students were concerned that when they take the bar, they will not have learned enough in their first-year classes to get them into a passing range. They felt that they were building their law school houses on weak foundations. This is a valid concern. Going through two (or three for evening students) more years of law school feeling like you are perpetually trying to overcome a deficit will also take a toll on confidence.

I am not saying that remote learning is universally negative either. I had students last year that thrived in a remote learning environment, as well as students who were very nervous about returning in-person because of the pandemic.  Remote learning allows broader access for students; I think that is the promise of remote learning going forward.  A student can, for example, attend a law school in a place they cannot afford to move to (like Boston) or attend school when health or family issues might otherwise prove an insurmountable barrier. And this is not even close to a complete list of pluses.

Yet, the students who preferred remote learning are just simply not the students I am seeing in academic distress right now. I am not asserting that my 22 student class is a representative sample of all law students but they are mine to teach and I need to know where things fell apart for them before they came to me. The current in-person situation has pluses and minuses as well. Students report that are much happier to be back in-person--but also stuck in a position of navigating the 2L curriculum with a 1L understanding of law school culture. Some of them have spent less time in the building than the 1L students who came to school before classes started for orientation-- a few more cracks in the foundation that will need filling. One student thought that being called an upperclassman was laughable because they felt they had very little to offer the incoming class in terms of wisdom and “the ways” of law school. And yet, they hoped that the expertise they did have was, and would continue to be, obsolete. I hope so too.

As academic support folks, we know there have always been (and will most likely be) students who are in academic distress. Some have had family issues, relationship issues, a failure to understand the time investment etc., but it seems that today’s students have all of these troubles plus Zoom.

(Liz Stillman)

 

[1] Bissel means just a little bit in Yiddish, https://www.dailywritingtips.com/the-yiddish-handbook-40-words-you-should-know/

September 20, 2021 in Exams - Studying, Learning Styles, Meetings, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Teaching Law is a Social Profession

As we near the end of this first full semester under the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, my colleagues and I are developing a clearer and broader picture of the sometimes unanticipated consequences of a shift towards distance learning.  The biggest surprise for me has been the magnitude of the cumulative loss of the daily presence of my fellow teachers and administrators. 

Halfway through spring semester last year, the State of New York ordered all SUNY schools, including the University at Buffalo School of Law, to move entirely to remote teaching.  This was a shock and a strain for students and teachers alike, but we quickly figured out how to make it work reasonably well and get through the end of the school year.  If it was a little rough and wearying, it seemed that everyone understood that we were all doing the best we could under exigent circumstances.  For me and my graduating students, the stress did not let up over the summer, as the twice-delayed and newly remote NY bar exam was a source of unpredictability and anxiety all the way through to October.  But at least, it seemed, my colleagues and I would be able to take what we had learned from all of this and apply it to plan and execute a robust, well-constructed hybrid program for the fall -- one that would allow a limited number of smaller in-person classes while taking advantage of the best practices we had developed for teaching other classes online.  We provided rich pre-orientation and orientation programs for our incoming 1L students.  Our school's experiential program directors worked tirelessly to adapt to the new conditions so that upper class students could continue to receive the benefits of clinical practice.  And those of us in student support made extra effort to reach out and make ourselves available to students scattered throughout the virtual ether.  It seemed to me -- and, I think, rightly -- that we, like many law schools, had recognized, prioritized, and attended to our students' novel needs.

What I did not realize until recently that I had overlooked was the value of simply being in the building every day with other professors and administrators.  It seemed at first just a slightly lonely little inconvenience, having to work from home most days, and seeing maybe one or two people in the hallways on the days I did go in.  After all, we still had regular online meetings of various staff groups and committees, and emails and phone calls were still happening, so it was not as though we did not see each other or even basically know what each of us was up to.  And being busier than usual with student queries and online meetings, one might have thought it was a blessing not to have to commute in every day and to spend precious time walking from one end of the building to the other, bumping into people and engaging in chit-chat along the way.

But in these last couple of weeks, I have come to realize what has been reduced because of the lack of interaction with my colleagues: sharing, synergy, and sensibility.  I think we (or, who knows, maybe it's just me) greatly underestimated how much gets communicated when you see people two or three times a week, spontaneously ask for opinions or bat ideas around, notice which students they are meeting with, or ask a quick question that would probably take twenty minutes to write adequately in an email.  And suddenly we're only a few weeks from finals, and I discover that a student who has been working with me on one specific issue is actually contending with a related issue in a different class.  In a Zoom meeting, one doctrinal professor brings up a pervasive issue among her 1L students, and several others realize they've been dealing with the same problem.  I'm accidentally left off a group email discussion thread and don't find out for three days -- something that could never have happened if we were all in the building, as I would have wandered into the offices of at least one of the group members every day.  

We took so much care to make sure we stayed connected to our students (although they, too, undoubtedly suffer from the dearth of day-to-day contact, with us and with their classmates, in the hallways and before and after class), but, perhaps a bit too stoicly, assumed we'd do fine with more tenuous connections to our colleagues.  But now I see.  We've missed opportunities to share ideas about the law school and information about our students.  It's been harder to improvise together, to pool our strengths to come up with good solutions.  And without the little bits of intelligence we pick up from out colleagues -- the pointillist accretion of points of light that add up to the big picture -- it has become harder to be sensitive to concerns that might affect one student or might affect an entire class.

Here I had been thinking that reaching out too much to my absent colleagues would be only a selfish pestering, a feel-good reprieve from isolation.  But no!  It would really be for the good of my students, and for the whole school.  Starting this week, I have begun setting up regular one-on-one chats with folks, agendaless, just to catch up. Everyone I have proposed this to has welcomed the idea.  And when I make my weekly visit to campus, I'm going to get out of my office and walk every floor of the law school, just to see the few people whose schedules overlap with mine.  Who knows what good, if any, will come out of any particular encounter?  All I know now is that nothing good comes from losing them altogether.

[Bill MacDonald]

November 17, 2020 in Advice, Current Affairs, Encouragement & Inspiration, Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Social Distance Learning

Back in the day (2019 and earlier), the first few weeks of law school was a time of intense bonding among classmates.  Shared feelings of excitement, tinged with fear of embarrassment and workload-motivated shock, served to turn strangers into friends in a matter of days.  These friendships would last throughout law school and beyond, and to good effect: Students would always have at least a couple friends in each course from whom they could borrow notes if they missed class due to illness.  Friends, and, okay, sometimes mere acquaintances, would form study groups to share and test ideas.  Soon, 2L and 3L students would introduce themselves, visiting classes or tabling in the hallways for various organizations, broadening the new students' networks of connections to include those with similar interests or backgrounds.  After law school, these connected students would be connected lawyers, and would do what lawyers do in the real world: provide referrals, share expertise, give moral support.  Part of learning to be a lawyer is learning to be part of a legal community.

This year, to varying degrees across the country, the first few weeks of law school have a different texture.  In my school, as in many others, only a portion of classes are being conducted live, in a classroom, and those usually the smaller classes.  Larger classes are being conducted online, where commiseration over an awkward cold-call response is much more difficult, and where, with no one sitting next to you, idle introductory chit-chat is almost as hard.  Representatives from student organizations will probably still visit Zoom classes to introduce themselves and their groups, but with mostly empty hallways, opportunities for getting to know new students in conversation will be less frequent.  

In short: it is going to be harder, and in some ways less natural, to make the kinds and numbers of connections that twelve months ago we all would have taken for granted.  If you have lecture classes that are entirely online, or even asynchronous, it would be all to easy to think of those classes as a kind of enhanced television program, something that grabs your attention but does not feature you in the cast.  Resist this temptation!  Instead, make developing your social network one of your goals this semester: 

  • Join and participate in GroupMe and Facebook groups when invited, or form them yourself. 
  • Speak up in class, whether orally or in the chat box, and when possible, respond directly to classmates whose views interest you. 
  • Ask your professors or student life directors to help connect people interested in forming study groups. 
  • Seek out and contact the leaders of student organizations that interest you. 
  • Visit your professor's office hours -- real or virtual -- and chat with the other students who attend.  
  • When you find other classmates who share something in common with you -- an alma mater, a hometown, a hobby, etc. -- use that as a reason to approach them and perhaps get to know them better.

Although all this will take some additional effort, at a time in which you may already feel you are working harder than you have ever done before, that effort is an excellent investment.  Later in the semester, as you start preparing for final exams, you will find the community you have made will make your work easier.  Your law school experience will be enriched by the support, perspective, and opportunities provided by your network.  And that network, and the skills you will develop in forming relationships within the legal community even under trying circumstances, will benefit you throughout your career.

[Bill MacDonald]

September 8, 2020 in Advice, Current Affairs, Encouragement & Inspiration, Meetings, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

West Coast Consortium of Academic Support Professionals Conference (Virtual)

WCCASP Save the Date

July 29, 2020 in Meetings, News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Southwest Consortium of Academic Support Professionals Recap

This past Thursday and Friday, I was in Lubbock for the SWCASP2020, hosted by Cassie Christopher at Texas Tech. Both Cassie and Steven Foster (our editor and founder of SWCASP!) put on a fantastic event.

The morning started with a presentation by Preyal Shah and Meijken Westenskow from UNT Dallas College of Law, 'It Takes a Village: Establishing Working Relationships with Doctrinal Faculty", and that was followed by Zoe Niesel from St. Mary's University School of Law with "Using Academic Support Techniques in the Doctrinal Classroom: One Civil Procedure Professor’s Experience." 

Both presentations gave attendees wonderful and concrete takeaways to implement at their schools. Preyal and Meijken took us through various models of working with doctrinal faculty, and the pros and cons that come along with each one. Zoe took us through her experience implementing academic support practices in her own civil procedure course. I have a literal pages of ideas from both presentations, and can't wait to implement them all.

This was followed by our keynote speaker, Raul Ruiz, from Florida International, discussing his work on spaced learning and bar passage. 

In the afternoon Antonia Miceli, from Saint Louis University School of Law, presented on "Integrating the Multistate Performance Test from Day One"  It gave us great ways to place the MPT in various settings, and she even had us do an exercise where we thought about where we could use practice MPTs, and potential benefits and challenges. 

The conference ended with Jamie Kleppetsch from DePaul University College of Law, with "2L Curriculum Chasm: Creating the Skill Bridge Between 1L and 3L" In true ASP fashion, she gave us a syllabus and materials to start implementing a 2L course of our very own, along with a checklist of things to think about.

You might sense a theme - academic support conferences leave us all with concrete takeaways and lists of things to implement at our home schools. And to that end, I promise the member's only section of the AASE website will be making its debut soon, with many of these materials!

However, that's not the only takeaway. The best part of any of these conferences are the lunches and dinners, and shared conversations in hotels and shuttles, and walking during breaks. Most of us have a department of 1 or 2, maybe 3 or 4 if we are very lucky. But that sometimes makes it hard to find support for ourselves. These conferences help us build a community, and that community sustains us throughout the year.

Which is why it is breaking my heart that regional conferences in Chicago and NY are being canceled. It's necessary, but I will very much miss the community gathering. 

(Melissa Hale)

March 11, 2020 in Current Affairs, Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

AALS Section on Academic Support Leadership, and Honoring Laurie Zimet!

This year, I ended my holiday travels with a trip to AALS in Washington, DC. Now that I'm back to normalcy post travel, or at least what passes as normal in academic support, I thought I'd share a bit about our section's AALS Leadership, and our award recipient!

First and foremost, I'd like to officially welcome Jamie Kleppetsch, Director of Bar Passage at DePaul College of Law in Chicago, as the AALS Academic Support Section Chair. Jamie has been doing bar passage work since 2008, and I know she will lead our section to amazing things. I am looking forward to working with her, as I am the new chair-elect! In our leadership, we also have Kirsha Trychta, the Director of the Academic Excellence Center at West Virginia University as our Secretary, and Joe Buffington, Director of Bar Success at Albany Law School as our treasurer. I'm excited to work with this amazing group of people!

Most importantly, the section recognized Academic Support leader and trailblazer, Laurie Zimet. Laurie is the Director of Academic Support at UC Hastings, and is regarded as an expert and founder in the field of academic support. She even coined the term "Asp-ish!". In fact, Laurie was a founding member of the AALS section on Academic Support, so it is more than fitting that the section pay their respects!

While anyone that has met Laurie, or seen her present, knows exactly why she was deserving of this award, I wanted to include some quotes from some members that nominated her.

"She is a resource of incredible wisdom and insight, and she always makes time to check in with other professionals to track their career development.  Whether it focuses on professional concerns, program development, and/or enhancing individual skills, Laurie has served our community tirelessly.  Her thoughtful guidance has improved academic support programs across the country.  She has also been a staunch advocate of academic support professionals by educating countless members of the academy of the importance of our field and the necessity of job security for those in our field." And "In addition, her expertise in teaching is known nationwide.  She was an early proponent of active learning in the classroom, which has had a ripple effect on countless professors." Both of these descriptions from Pavel Wonsowicz at UCLA. I think Pavel sums up what those of us that know Laurie think.

In addition, from Kris Franklin, at New York Law School, Laurie is one of the true originators of our discipline, a mentor and foremother to uncountable past and present academic support professionals, and a widely-admired leading voice in legal education. Recognition of her unique contributions to the profession is fitting and probably overdue." Kris is not wrong, and continues to say "Laurie is a recognized expert in active learning and in ASP program design. She has frequently consulted with law schools that were seeking to open or expand academic support programming. In so doing, she helped create jobs in the field, and she directly or indirectly opened the door for many of those working in ASP positions today.

Laurie has always been seen as an unusually vibrant speaker and educator. She has given hundreds of talks at law schools and academic support conferences around the country, all of which helped further the field and inspire those working in it. As just one example, together with Paula Lustbader she was a frequent and early presenter at the AALS Workshop for New Law Professors. Those talks brought the student-centered learning so central to ASP work to a generation of entering law teachers nationwide.

Perhaps most endearingly, as the invited keynote speaker at an LSAC-sponsored ASP conference in Miami, Laurie coined the immediately-recognizable term “ASPish.” We may not be able to fully capture in words the many qualities that the term includes, but… we know ASPish when we see it. Laurie embodies it."  

She really does. Congrats to Laurie!

(Melissa Hale)

 

WLaurie jamie
Laurie jamie

 

 

January 8, 2020 in Academic Support Spotlight, Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 6, 2020

Takeaways from the 2020 AALS Annual Meeting

You have so much to explore and express, but . . .  you may be asking yourself, is my story good enough? The answer is yes! – Schan B. Ellis

I can think of no better way to begin the new year than by sending kudos to the AALS Section on Academic Support, the executive board, and the planning committee for a fabulous panel session. If you did not attend the AALS Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, you missed a treat. The Academic Support session held on Friday, January 3, was attended by law school deans and administrators, clinical and doctrinal faculty outside of ASP, testing and learning specialists, and academic support professionals. To a standing-room-only crowd, a diverse panel of presenters shared their research and insights on the role of faculty in delivering academic support, academic archetypes that signal risks of law school underperformance and bar exam failure, potential gender biases in standardized testing, and bar examination, and the impact of bar exam cut scores on diversity in the legal profession.

I have attended the annual meeting many times. From New York to New Orleans, and from San Diego to Washington, AALS provides a unique opportunity to connect with professors and law school professionals in a welcoming smorgasbord of panel presentations and enriching roundtable sessions. Although I am a veteran AALS attendee, this year I saw the conference through the lens of a presenter for the very first time. I had become quite comfortable listening to and learning from others, and this time I sat at the presenters’ table instead of in the audience.

To say that I was nervous would be an understatement of enormous proportion. Even more daunting was the intimidating company of expert co-panelists that I found myself in. My panel included tenured professor and renowned ASP scholar Catherine Christopher from Texas Tech; published textbook author Jane Grise from the University of Kentucky; and Dean emeritus and UNLV law professor Joan Howarth. I was so busy taking notes from their presentations that I could barely focus on my own.

My point to anyone who has an article idea in gestation: do not convince yourself that you don’t have something worthwhile to say. I was so impressed by how broadly attended the session was, and I could only think that we need more novice scholars to share their works in progress and innovative ideas for the good of the profession. I encourage my ASP colleagues to respond to the call for proposals for the 2020 AASE Conference and the 2021 AALS Section on Academic Support session. It was a fabulous experience for me . . . and if I can do it, surely you can too.

(Marsha Griggs)

January 6, 2020 in Academic Support Spotlight, Meetings, Travel | Permalink | Comments (3)

Monday, December 9, 2019

Section on Empirical Study of Legal Education Seeking Nominations

If you are looking for an opportunity to serve in the broader academic community and provide more exposure to the contribution of ASP, please consider nominating yourself, or an eligible colleague to the the AALS Section on Empirical Study of Legal Education and the Legal Profession. The Section is requesting nominations for officers and Executive Committee members to serve beginning January 5, 2020 (following the 2020 AALS Annual Meeting).  We hope that members will consider nominating themselves or others to serve in these capacities.
 
The Section on Empirical Study of Legal Education and the Legal Profession promotes communication relating to the empirical study of the full range of questions raised by legal education and the legal profession, encourages professional development and fostering of relevant skills and expertise for those interested in engaging in the empirical study of legal education and the legal profession, and fosters exploration of and exchange of information relating to research developments between distinct communities within legal education. 
 
The Section is committed to building bridges across the many silos found in legal education, and thus has endeavored to encourage candidates for its officers and executive committee drawn from the diverse ranks of podium faculty; clinical and legal writing faculty; academic support professionals; student affairs professionals; admissions professionals, and other interested members of the broader AALS and legal education community. Officers of the Section and members of its executive committee must be current or retired full-time faculty or professional staff of law schools that are members of the AALS.
 
This call for nominations invites nominations for two officer positions (chair-elect and secretary/newsletter editor) and up to five Executive Committee members (each of whom serves for a one-year term). Current members of the Executive Committee (listed below) are eligible for election to officer positions or for re-election to the Executive Committee. The Nominating Committee will be chaired by Chair-Elect, Victor Quintanilla. The Section encourages candidates from diverse backgrounds and parts of the academy to nominate themselves or others for positions as officers or membership in the Section’s executive committee. The executive committee also anticipates forming project-based committees this year that may require chairs and additional members.  
 
To nominate yourself or another, send an email to Chair-Elect Victor D. Quintanilla, (vdq@indiana.edu) with the subject line “AALS Empirical Section Nomination.” Your nomination should, in one to two paragraphs, explain: (a) your background and interests and their relationship to the work of the section, (b) why you are interested in serving in a leadership position as an officer or member of the executive committee, (c) any other information you think might be relevant to your candidacy. Nominations are due by December 13, 2019.
 
I encourage you to lend your talents and unique perspectives to some of the many AALS Sections, and of course, I  hope to see many of you at our Academic Support Section meeting at AALS next month!
 
(Marsha Griggs)

December 9, 2019 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements, Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 21, 2019

A Queen Counsels: More Ear--Less Talk

I don't usually keep up with the world of royalty.  But a recent article caught my attention.

You see, it seems that the one of the legal duties of Queen Elizabeth II is to meet weekly with the Prime Minister for counseling. Sam Walker, "The World's Top Executive Coach: It's Queen Elizabeth," Wall Street Journal, Nov. 16, 2019. 

That takes time, energy, and commitment.  And, the queen's been meeting with prime ministers weekly since 1952.  Id.  So, it might be worthwhile to see what she says about counseling and why prime ministers, despite vast differences from one another, continue to seek her advice.

First, the queen provides a safe place for leaders to speak out without "fear or reprisal."  In the queen's words: "They unburden themselves.  They tell me what's going on, or if they've got any problems." Id.  Second, the queen by law is not allow to give orders or publicly takes sides on issues.  Id.  Third, the meetings focus on seeking impartial common ground.  In other words, it's not about the queen's desires but about how to determine what's best for the common good of the people. Id.  Fourth, the queen likens her role in meetings to that of a sponge, which I take to mean being a sounding board for  prime ministers rather than offering advice. Id.

In summarizing the queen's coaching, author Sam Walker suggests the following:  

That great coaches, even though they "often have a better grasp on a tricky situation than the person that they're advising, ...resist the urge to be a helicopter coach.  [Instead,] [t]he only way to help leaders [and students] learn and grow is to allow them to make their own mistakes.  [And,] [t]he only responsible method [to do this] is to let them speak openly, guard their secrets, and, once in a while try to incrementally redirect their thinking.  Doing that requires humility--and lots of practice."  Id.

That's not a role all that different from the world of academic support professionals.  

Like the queen, we are granted access to some of the deepest secrets and most difficult struggles that our students face.  

Like the queen, we must studiously guard our students' confidences.  

Like the queen, we are called to listen lots and speak little.  

Like the queen, our students learn and grow the most when we walk alongside them, helping them incrementally adjust their thinking, so that our students develop expertise in assessing their own learning with solutions that come forth out of the wellsprings of their own hearts and minds.  

To sum up, in the course of most of our work, the truly royal moments of learning are the results of what our students come to experience for themselves under the confidential mentorship of us. As the queen suggests, speaking less can indeed mean speaking more (and in the end lead to better results for our students).  So "hears" to better hearing for the betterment of our students!

(Scott Johns).

November 21, 2019 in Advice, Encouragement & Inspiration, Learning Styles, Meetings, Stress & Anxiety, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 8, 2019

AALS Awards Committee

The Awards Committee for the AALS Section on Academic Support is soliciting nominations for our annual section award winner.  The AALS Section Award will be presented to an outstanding member of the ASP community at our section meeting on January 3, 2020 at the AALS Annual Meeting.  The committee members are: Jamie Kleppetsch (chair), Susan Landrum, Haley Meade, and Laura Mott. Please review the eligibility and criteria information below and send nominations directly to me, at jkleppet@depaul.edu

The deadline to submit nominations is Monday, November 11 at 5:00 p.m. CST. For a nomination to be considered, it must include (at a minimum) a one to two paragraph explanation of why the nominee is deserving of the award.  Only AALS ASP Section members may make nominations, but all those within the ASP community may be nominated.  Membership in the section is free and can be processed by e-mailing a membership request to support@aals.org.

Eligibility and Criteria for Selection.  The eligible nominees for the award are individuals who have made significant and/or long-term contributions to the development of the field of law student academic support.  All legal educators, regardless of the nature or longevity of their appointment or position, who have at some point in their careers worked part-time or full-time in academic support are eligible for the award.  The award will be granted to recognize those who have made such contributions through any combination of the following activities: 

  • service to the profession and to professional institutions—e.g., advocacy with the NCBE or assumption of leadership roles in the ASP community;
  • support to and mentoring of ASP colleagues;
  • support to and mentoring of students;
  • promoting diversity in the profession and expanding access to the legal profession; and
  • developing ideas or innovations—whether disseminated through academic writing, newsletters, conference presentations, or over the listserv.

Law schools, institutions, or organizations cannot receive an award.  Prior year or current year Section officers are excluded from being selected as an award winner.

November 8, 2019 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 23, 2019

Back to Basics

The most important knowledge teachers need to do good work is a knowledge of how students are experiencing learning and perceiving their teacher’s actions.  ~ Steven Brookfield

I love innovative pedagogy. Tools like mind maps, retrieval practice, spaced repetition, and self-directed leaning strategies have been game changers in higher education. I am always looking for ways to enhance and improve my teaching. But innovation is an enhancement to, and not a replacement for, the most basic tenets of quality classroom teaching. In this series of weekly blog posts, I will address teaching basics that are the telltale traits of effective teachers.

  1. Know your audience

We cannot afford to make assumptions about the knowledge or background of the students in our classes. Recently, I attended a conference planned for academic support and bar prep professionals. The first few hours of the conference were devoted almost entirely to explaining basic components of the bar exam. I concluded that the presenters either underestimated the skill and experience of the audience or failed to tailor a previously used presentation for the present audience. My perception of audience reaction to the content and delivery was a combination of polite appreciation, genuine curiosity, and suppressed rage. As audience participants, we have both the luxury and opportunity to make critical assessments of the projected and realized learning outcomes. But a seat on the other side of the podium also yields an enlightened perspective on effective learning strategies.

Rather than disconnect myself entirely from the redundancy of the content presented, I used the time to introspectively examine whether I had made the same mistakes. To my deep chagrin, I had. Insert hand raise emoji. I teach an early bar prep course, enrollment in which is restricted to students in their final year of law school. Because I cannot cover all the bar exam subjects in the time allotted for class, I select a few subjects. Routinely included in my course coverage are Property, Torts, Evidence, and Criminal Law. Although I intentionally include required courses, and stray away from electives that not all students will have taken, I failed to thoroughly research my audience this semester. In so doing, I did not discover, until after class had begun, that two students in my class had not yet completed the required course in Evidence.

One student was concurrently enrolled in Evidence and my course, the other had decided to wait until next semester to complete their requirements. I gut-wrenched at the thought of their polite, yet passive, frustration with me as I assigned practice questions testing hearsay  - a topic with which they had no prior exposure. Of course, there are many law schools who do not require coursework in Evidence, and a corresponding number of students who learn/study the evidentiary rules for the first time during bar prep. Pedagogically, however, had I taken the time (actually a lot of time) to review the transcripts of the students enrolled in my class, I could have scheduled assignments that equally serve and challenge them all. Even though time consuming, doing my homework on my audience is just as important as being well studied in the subject matter that I teach. Suddenly my frustration with another’s seeming underestimation of my knowledge base was supplanted with embarrassment by my own overestimation of my students’.

(Marsha Griggs)

September 23, 2019 in Advice, Bar Exam Preparation, Learning Styles, Meetings, Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, August 26, 2019

CSLSA Annual Conference

Do you have a great writing idea but don't know how to get started, or a project that you've started but pushed aside for other tasks? Bring your great writing idea or very rough draft to the Central States Law Schools Association ("CSLSA") annual conference September 20-21, 2019, at the University of Toledo College of Law. CSLSA is a regional organization of law schools dedicated to providing a supportive forum for conversation and collaboration with respect to scholarly activity by law school academics. CSLSA recognizes that scholarship ideas come in many shapes and stages, so presentations are welcome, whether just an early-stage idea or a completed draft.  CSLSA is about helping you grow as a scholar, so you’ll enjoy a relaxed and encouraging environment where you can ask questions and get helpful feedback on your work. At the CSLSA conference, faculty from across the country and around the world come together to collaborate and forge lasting connections. Finding childcare can be challenging, and your children are welcome at the law school while the conference is being held.  If you need help finding a local childcare provider, please contact the CSLSA president at kara.bruce@utoledo.edu. Registration is free to faculty and staff at member schools. For a list of member schools and registration information visit the CSLSA website.

Let's WRITE!

August 26, 2019 in Meetings, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 5, 2019

SEALS 2019 Recap

I just returned from the 72nd annual conference of the Southeastern Association of Law Schools (SEALS) in lovely Boca Raton, Florida. The SEALS conference provided beneficial programming that included substantive updates, current topics affecting legal education and society at large, and a fabulous series of workshops for new scholars.

Our ASP colleagues were very visible during the conference and their sessions generated much positive feedback. There were so many excellent presentations and panel discussions, my one regret is that I could not attend them all. Rory Bahadur, Michael Barry, Cassie Christopher, Patrick Gould, Zoe Niesel, Raul Ruiz, Wanda Temm, and Laurie Zimet shared strategies for bar prep success. DeShun Harris and Renee Allen provided techniques and interdisciplinary teaching methods to improve classroom performance. Twinette Johnson shared her insights on teaching and writing for resistance. Russell McClain and Rosie Schrier challenged legal educators to foster an environment of inclusion by addressing stereotype threat and exploring mindful awareness techniques. Every session provided valuable takeaways. I wish I could address them all!

This was my first year to attend the SEALS conference and it did not disappoint. If you are planning your conference travel for next year, I encourage you to consider SEALS if your travel budget permits. In addition to the topical workshops and discussion groups, I highly recommend the Faculty Recruitment Initiative for anyone on the job market or at a member school looking to hire. The recruitment initiative is designed for entry level applicants, laterals, visitors, and emeriti. SEALS also offers workshops for both prospective law teachers and newer law teachers. These workshops focus on becoming a good classroom teacher, creating effective courses, assessment methods, and balancing service and scholarship. There is certainly room for new and seasoned ASPers to learn and lead at these sessions.

(Marsha Griggs)

August 5, 2019 in Academic Support Spotlight, Meetings, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Strength in Numbers

Today is the first day of the 7th Annual Association of Academic Support Educators [AASE] National Conference.  This year well over 200 law school academic support educators are gathering in Seattle, Washington, to share what we have learned about how to help our students succeed in law school and on the bar examination.  For me, it is an enlightening pleasure every year to swap stories and strategies with my brilliant colleagues.

Today's lead-off plenary session, presented by Michael Barry and Zoe Niesel of St. Mary's University School of Law and Isabel F. Peres of Seattle University School of Law, discussed the use of robust data analysis to create predictive models to help identify and calibrate the guidance provided to specific students in preparation for the bar exam.  Several other sessions on the agenda this week address the need to use specific, articulable information throughout the process of providing academic support: from laying out detailed strategic plans to assessing student development to predicting bar passage rates.  Certainly, like any mature field of study in which reliable and reproducible outcomes are valued, academic success recognizes the importance of definition, measurement, recording, and scrutiny.

Part of me feels there is an irony in this, in that the AASE Conference is also an opportunity to work with and learn from some of the most accomplished veterans in the field, people whose spontaneous intuition often appears to be more perceptive and accurate than a detailed mathematical data analysis.  Not only that, there is also a pervasive insistence throughout the Conference on recognizing the ineluctable humanity of each student -- of seeing every one not just as a set of numbers, but as an unpredictable human with immeasurable potential.  The numbers might tell us that student X has a 64% chance of passing the bar, but we might nevertheless work with X as if we sense he really has a 90% chance -- and in doing so, might even help X move from 64% to 90%.

The reality, of course, is that there is no contradiction.  Experienced and gifted professionals are observant; they work with data they may not even be consciously aware of when they assess a student's strengths and weaknesses.  In that context, rigorous scientific analysis can be just as much about confirming the deep knowledge of the veteran as about uncovering previously unsuspected truths.  It can also be about articulating facts and relationships observed by others through long experience in ways that make those facts and truths easier to explain to those new to the field.

Thus, our annual conferences are a double celebration of strength in numbers, recognizing not only the value of sharing the wisdom and lore of our most experienced professionals in a group setting, but also the importance of capturing and confirming this wisdom through data that can back up our intuition, guide our choices, and persuade skeptical students and colleagues.

[Bill MacDonald]

May 21, 2019 in Academic Support Spotlight, Current Affairs, Encouragement & Inspiration, Meetings, Professionalism, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Strength in Numbers

Today is the first day of the 7th Annual Association of Academic Support Educators [AASE] National Conference.  This year well over 200 law school academic support educators are gathering in Seattle, Washington, to share what we have learned about how to help our students succeed in law school and on the bar examination.  For me, it is an enlightening pleasure every year to swap stories and strategies with my brilliant colleagues.

Today's lead-off plenary session, presented by Michael Barry and Zoe Niesel of St. Mary's University School of Law and Isabel F. Peres of Seattle University School of Law, discussed the use of robust data analysis to create predictive models to help identify and calibrate the guidance provided to specific students in preparation for the bar exam.  Several other sessions on the agenda this week address the need to use specific, articulable information throughout the process of providing academic support: from laying out detailed strategic plans to assessing student development to predicting bar passage rates.  Certainly, like any mature field of study in which reliable and reproducible outcomes are valued, academic success recognizes the importance of definition, measurement, recording, and scrutiny.

Part of me feels there is an irony in this, in that the AASE Conference is also an opportunity to work with and learn from some of the most accomplished veterans in the field, people whose spontaneous intuition often appears to be more perceptive and accurate than a detailed mathematical data analysis.  Not only that, there is also a pervasive insistence throughout the Conference on recognizing the ineluctable humanity of each student -- of seeing every one not just as a set of numbers, but as an unpredictable human with immeasurable potential.  The numbers might tell us that student X has a 64% chance of passing the bar, but we might nevertheless work with X as if we sense he really has a 90% chance -- and in doing so, might even help X move from 64% to 90%.

The reality, of course, is that there is no contradiction.  Experienced and gifted professionals are observant; they work with data they may not even be consciously aware of when they assess a student's strengths and weaknesses.  In that context, rigorous scientific analysis can be just as much about confirming the deep knowledge of the veteran as about uncovering previously unsuspected truths.  It can also be about articulating facts and relationships observed by others through long experience in ways that make those facts and truths easier to explain to those new to the field.

Thus, our annual conferences are a double celebration of strength in numbers, recognizing not only the value of sharing the wisdom and lore of our most experienced professionals in a group setting, but also the importance of capturing and confirming this wisdom through data that can back up our intuition, guide our choices, and persuade skeptical students and colleagues.

[Bill MacDonald]

May 21, 2019 in Academic Support Spotlight, Current Affairs, Encouragement & Inspiration, Meetings, Professionalism, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Only Thirteen More Meeting Days 'Til Exam Period!

This time of year sneaks up on us like the holidays in December.  It seems like only yesterday we were welcoming students back for spring semester.  We blink, and then poof!  Final exams are less than three weeks away.  And before they start, we have so much to take care of.  Drafting final exams, for one thing.  But, at the same time, staying on top of our current classes -- in particular, at least in my case, pushing feedback on written assignments out to students so they can make use of it as they prepare for finals.  Plus the approaching end of the semester often means a traffic jam of administrative work, as committees and working groups hasten to complete projects before a big chunk of their members leave for sabbaticals, holidays, or other teaching gigs over the summer.

When it gets crazy busy like this, it is important to set aside at least a measure of our thought and energy for that portion of our student population that might otherwise get lost in the background noise.  Sure, part of what makes us so busy are the students we've developed relationships with -- those who regularly seek us out because of anxiety or confusion or a habit of pursuing every advantage -- and part of it may be required meetings with students on academic probation.  We'll see those folks without much extra effort on our parts.  But there are other students who could use our help who might not put themselves on our radar screens.  Maybe they are shy; maybe they are overconfident; maybe they are just underestimating how much they have to do to get ready for the approaching finals.  Maybe they feel so busy that they can't make time for us.  

These are often students, not currently in academic difficulty, for whom a little support, guidance, or intervention will have a far more significant positive effect this week than it would have if it were delivered when the student showed up at the threshold to our office, panicking, a few days before finals.  So, even though we are busy, making the effort to identify and check in with these students now makes good cost/benefit sense.

If you have not already done so, consider taking some time over the next few days to:

  • Go through your calendar or appointment records from the fall and early spring and make note of any students who have sought help in the past, but from whom you have not heard for a while.  Send them quick e-mails, asking them how they are doing and inviting them to drop by or make an appointment if they'd like to talk about preparing for the end of the semester.
  • Check in with faculty (especially those teaching 1L courses) to ask if there are any students they have concerns about whom they haven't already referred to you.  At this point, spring midterms are probably all completely graded, and those professors may have information they didn't have at the start of the semester.
  • Remind the students (again, especially 1L students) in class or via social media or your school's information portal how close they are to the end of the semester, how busy your office gets at this time of year, and how wise it is to come to see you sooner rather than later if they have any concerns.

When we are this busy and things are moving towards a close so quickly, reaching out to students in the grey area can demand a bit of mindfulness.  But even one fruitful meeting with a student now might be more effective than a flurry of desperate conferences the week before finals.  That would be time well spent.

[Bill MacDonald]

April 16, 2019 in Advice, Encouragement & Inspiration, Exams - Studying, Meetings, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 7, 2019

AASE Board Nominations - Deadline April 22nd

Hello, AASE Members,

It is that time of year again. As we look forward to the upcoming national conference, we also need to select new members for AASE’s Executive Board.  Please consider nominating someone to serve on the AASE Executive Board.

Please go to the Membership page of the AASE website and follow the Nomination Link which can be found here:  http://www.associationofacademicsupporteducators.org/membership.html.  You also can go straight to the nomination page here: http://www.associationofacademicsupporteducators.org/boardnomination.html.  To nominate someone, you must be an AASE Member. If you are unsure whether you are an AASE member, please contact us at aasemembership@gmail.com.  You many nominate only one person for each position, but you can nominate the same person for more than one position. Self-nominations are allowed.

Nominations are due by April 22, 2019.  All nominees confirmed by the election committee (Betsy Six, Russell McClain, and Toni Miceli – the members of the Executive Board who are not eligible to run for an office) will be forwarded to the Executive Board by May 1, 2019.  We will then circulate an online ballot.  Voting will be open for one week leading up to the national conference and will close on May 21, 2019, the end of the first day of the national conference.

The AASE Executive Board meets or communicates on matters every month.  Each Executive Board position has regular duties in addition to being assigned to serve as a liaison on committees and other tasks as needed.  Candidates should be willing to fulfill the time commitment required of the office for which they are nominated.

The positions that are open for election are President-Elect (3-year position), Vice President of Diversity (1-year position), Secretary (1-year position), and Treasurer-Elect (2-year position).

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me, Betsy, or Toni. 

Thanks,

Russell McClain

President, AASE

April 7, 2019 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

AASE Awards Nominations - Deadline April 19th

Dear ASP colleagues,

AASE will once again provide awards to acknowledge excellence in the academic support field at the annual conference.  AASE developed the following recommendations for the Award Committee:

  • AASE should recognize members’ valuable contributions to law school academic support
  • AASE awards should have as an important objective the recognition of early and mid-career ASP professors
  • AASE Awards should be for specific work or in specific categories
  • The goal of AASE awards should be honoring contributions, not covering categories

The 2019 Awards committee, Kris Franklin, Twinette Johnson, and Jamie Kleppetsch (chair), are soliciting nominations for contributions by individuals, or in appropriate circumstances, groups, in any of the following areas:

  1. Specific ideas or innovations—whether disseminated through academic writing, newsletters, conference presentations or over the listserv
  2. Specific services to the profession—e.g., advocacy with the NCBE, etc.
  3. Providing services to students
  4. Promoting diversity in the profession and expanding access to the legal profession
  5. Mentoring and supporting others in ASP

Recognition may be given to more than one individual or group in any of these categories, and no category requires an award in any one year. We fully recognize just how many ASP educators have made heroic contributions to their students and to the profession. For these reasons, the Awards Committee will consider all nominations received, while keeping in mind there must be a reasonable limit for awards in any one year. Anyone in law school academic support may offer nominations, but current AASE Board members and AASE Awards Committee members are ineligible for recognition. Awards recipients must be members of AASE at the time an award is bestowed. 

Please send your nominations to Jamie Kleppetsch by Friday, April 19, 2019JKLEPPET@depaul.edu

Thank you,

AASE Awards Committee 2019

April 7, 2019 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 30, 2019

AALS Section on Teaching Methods Conference Call

The AALS Section on Teaching Methods is hosting a teaching discussion forum via conference call on Tuesday, April 23rd, from 1-2:15 pm ET. 

The forum will focus on innovative practices in online/hybrid law courses with a skills component.  The Section hopes to feature those who are doing ground-breaking work in this area, along with people seeking input for their own courses or simply interested in the topic.

During the call, a few presenters will present their ideas and experiences in a short format and then open the call up for discussion with the group.  The format is oral, no slides or papers necessary. 

We also welcome your participation in the call (if you would like to listen or discuss, but not present) but do ask that you RSVP via our short online form here.

Also, the section needs presenters who have ideas for, or currently teach, skills courses taught in an online or hybrid format for the April 23rd call.  The format is informal – all we ask is that you submit a short topic proposal in advance to allow us to coordinate and organize the call.  Each topic and discussion usually run about 15 minutes.  You can submit your proposal at the RSVP form mentioned above.  The deadline for proposals is Friday, April 12, 2019.

Thanks!

Dustin Benham & Reichi Lee

 

March 30, 2019 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)