Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Marathon Tuesday

Classes end here later this week[1] and while this date was on the academic calendar for well over a year at this point, this is news to some students. To be fully honest, I was taken by surprise as well. In fact, I was taken by surprise that yesterday was Monday and I should have written and posted this blog entry then. To be fair, there have been many distractions in the past week: protests, Passover, and here in Boston, a marathon coupled with some sports teams getting to the play-offs. It has been a lot.

I have to wonder (because if you know me, you are fully aware that I have never run a marathon and would have no direct experience), if the Boston marathon feels the same way the spring semester does: slow and steady at first, a bit of energy depletion at the 1/3 mark, regained momentum at the half to 2/3 mark, and then a feeling of going uphill[2] with no reserved resources left until you crest that hill and then have even more running to do before it all ends somewhat abruptly. The giant slope slightly after mile 20 of the Boston Marathon is literally called Heartbreak Hill.

Our students are closing in on the foot of Heartbreak Hill today. Exams loom over them and look huge and insurmountable from where they stand. Their race strategy has to change at this point because classes will end and then they need to approach, climb, and get over the exam hill to get to finish line. If there were only one exam our students needed to take, then this would be the point where we distribute the shiny blankets and medals and send them on their sweaty way, but they often have still more exams to take. Too often students prepare for exams as if the one hill were the end of the race, or worse yet as if it were an entire series of Heartbreak Hills. In Boston, there are more than 5 miles to go once you have survived Heartbreak Hill.

I think approaching exams the same way you would approach a marathon might be helpful, so here is what I suggest to students:

  1. Have the right equipment: do the case briefing and outlining. Go to class, take notes, go the TA review sessions. Gather your materials and synthesize them. Test some different strategies out early in the semester to see if they can withstand the task.
  2. Start training early: do hypos, practice exams, and multiple choice questions early and often. But don’t over train by trying questions that you haven’t covered in class yet, you will strain and panic. Study what you have learned.[3]
  3. Be organized in your training: plan out your studying. It may seem like there is a lot of time for studying (hopefully), but unplanned time can be easily squandered. Make to-do lists (not too long), and enjoy the satisfaction of crossing things off of them.
  4. Build stamina: by starting to time yourself on answering the training questions about ½ through the semester.
  5. Know your route: make an exam plan that is a calendar of what exams you have when and how you plan to prepare for them.
  6. Take care of your body and mind; before, during, and after exams. This is not a good time to not feel your best. Eat, sleep, exercise, and breathe.
  7. Warm up before you start, and cool down after you finish: otherwise you will be very, very sore the next day. I’ve seen some Boston runners on the Tuesday morning after the marathon wearing their medals but unable to walk down the stairs to the subway. For students this means taking some mental space to enter and exit the exam zone.

Reminding students that exams are not a series of sprints but rather a cohesive marathon of tasks is one way of making sure they look at the big picture and plan ahead. Planning is everything.

(Liz Stillman)

 

[1] Well, law school classes end, but my undergraduate classes go for a week longer. The lack of sync amongst academic calendars just baffles me.

[2] The Boston Marathon Route: https://www.baa.org/races/boston-marathon/enter/course-information

[3] Or think you should have learned but didn’t quite get in class. Not ideal, but it could be foundational material you need to move forward.

April 23, 2024 in Exams - Studying, Exams - Theory, Sports, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 18, 2022

Marathon

Today I am sitting on my chosen side of Beacon Street while the Boston Marathon is happening just down the road. I cannot even imagine running over twenty-six miles -- especially considering that my “running” occasionally consists of trying to catch the train in the morning and occasionally deciding that the next train would be fine too.

According to the organizers of the Marathon, there will be numerous places to get water[1]. There will also be places on the route to get some regular or decaf “hydrogel” (which honestly sounds like cheating, right?).[2] There will also be people on bicycles bringing up the rear so that the slower runners are observed and safe even when the roads are re-opened, as well as 26 medical checkpoints[3]. Don’t even get me started on the security surrounding the event (which is entirely understandable), I’ve been hearing helicopters overhead for about a week now. The route is marked on the ground and with signs. People are on the edge of route cheering all the runners on. Overall, the marathon runners are being cared for, protected, and encouraged all along the way.

Are we similarly helping our students in their upcoming exam marathon? We know students have been training for these final exams for months, and like the Boston marathon runners, since it is spring, these students have completed a set of exams that qualified them to tackle this one. We are getting to the point in the semester where just preparing and training will have to give way to running the actual course. Here are some things we can remind students to do for themselves, so they are ready when the starting gun is fired:

  1. Remind yourself that you have studied and put in the time. While you might have some regrets about the way you have studied or the amount of time you have put in, there is no changing that now and focusing on that will take up valuable time and bandwidth.
  2. Do not pull all-nighters before exams. This is not a sprint. You do not have the time to recover from a missed night of sleep before the next exam (if there is one), and more importantly you will need to be able to think clearly during the exam. Think of sleep as carbs for the busy work your brain needs to do.
  3. Be sure you have the correct technical equipment before you get to the starting point. Have you uploaded the exam software? Have you done any tutorials or tests that are recommended? Is your charger working? Now is a much better time to assess your equipment readiness than ten minutes into the exam.
  4. Do you know the rules? Have you looked over the exam requirements/restrictions? Is it open book, closed book, a hybrid? Can you bring in an index card? Write on the code (if that can come with you), tab your materials, bring in your outline? This will impact how you study and how you plan to access material during the exam (from your brain or other sources). Do you know what to do when you need to use a bathroom during the exam?
  5. Do you know your exam numbers?? Do you know where to find them? Also, do you have your ID[4] with you for checking into the exam? Take a picture of it now just in case….
  6. Do you have SHARPENED number 2 pencils or know where to find them-- and a decent eraser? If you somehow ruin all your pencils and erasers during the exam, do you know who to ask for assistance and where they are located in the building?
  7. Do you have hydration for the exam? Is your water bottle clean and filled? Do you know where the water filling station nearest your exam room is? We will, sadly, be offering hydrogel (which, now that I think of it, may be the active ingredient in my sunscreen…).
  8. Know that the folks cheering for you on your exam route are your ASP faculty. We are also the folks who will have chocolate, band-aids, tissues, and a place to stash the stuff you cannot get into your locker in an emergency. No, we cannot stand in the hall with banners and yell (distracting and all), but we are there. We know how hard you have worked to get here, and we are behind you 100%.

(Liz Stillman)

 

[1] https://www.baa.org/races/boston-marathon/enter/course-information

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Once I was proctoring an exam and the student forgot their school ID and showed me their gun permit as an alternate picture ID. I reminded them (and myself) that I was not grading that exam-just proctoring….

April 18, 2022 in Exams - Studying, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 11, 2021

Baseball is a Rules Based System

Have I mentioned that I live in walking distance of Boston's Fenway Park? I live in the town just slightly west of Boston. Last night there was a baseball game at Fenway. It was an important one to Red Sox fans. Have I mentioned that I am not, proximity aside, a member of Red Sox nation? However, the Red Sox beat my team to get to this game, so since I am an adult, I decided that I am now a fan…of the team the Red Sox are playing (there are no adults in baseball, or was that crying? Either way). Yet, I live with Red Sox fans, so we were watching the game. For a very, very long time. Because it ended in the 13th inning. I guess folks with tickets got their money worth, but they do close the beer stands after the 7th inning which means that when this game finally became interesting to me most people down the street were either happily sober or wishing they weren’t.

You are wondering, what is the legal teaching connection? Glad you asked. Here is our fact pattern: it was the top of the 13th inning and the Tampa Bay (not devil anymore) Rays were batting. There was a player on first base and one out, when Kevin Kiermayer came to bat and Kiermayer hit a “rocket” to the wall. Then, “[t]he ball hit the wall, struck Red Sox outfielder Hunter Renfroe in the right thigh and hopped into the Boston bullpen.”[1]The runner on first ran; Kiermayer ran. The runner on first crossed homeplate and the Red Sox fans in attendance, now long cut off from beer, were despondent. For a moment. The umpires conferred and ruled it was a double, so the runner on first could only get to third base and the run the Rays had “scored” was erased. This is the run that would have broken the 4-4 tie in the 13th inning. Red Sox nation rejoiced. I glowered a bit.

This is where the rules of baseball come in-as they do in every game-but since there are fewer playoff games occurring than on usual nights -we were paying attention. The rule and its application were explained by Major League Baseball umpires this way: “It's item 20 in the manual, which is, balls deflected out of play, which is in reference to official baseball Rule 5.06(b)(4)(H) [which] says, ‘If a fair ball not in flight is deflected by a fielder and goes out of play, the award is two bases from the time of the pitch. Once that ball hit the wall, it was no longer in flight. Now the ball bounces off the wall and is deflected out of play off of a fielder. That’s just a ground-rule double.”[2]

The legal education angle here is that this seems to be a strict liability rule-it doesn’t matter if the ball accidentally or intentionally got put out of play. The way I plan to use this in class this week is to ask students to go through all the possible intents: willful, reckless, negligent, etc. and ask how each could have been proven in that moment. I'll poke at the idea of whether Renfroe had intentionally pushed the ball out of play to save the game knowing that his intent didn’t actually matter and wouldn’t be examined. Would he be a hero or a scofflaw for engaging the rules that way? I’ll tap the professional responsibility issue of whether the rules act as a shield or a weapon when you are player. I’ll ask why Major League Baseball tends to use strict liability rules. You can’t stop the game to have a trial, but they do have so many camera angles at every position on the field that they send off multiple videos to a third party for confirmation. I’ll also show the video of the 2013 World Series where a call by an umpire awarded the St. Louis Cardinals a run, and therefore the game, and ultimately the series, against the Red Sox for contrast…and laugh.[3]

Go Yankees!

(Liz Stillman)

 

[1] https://www.mlb.com/news/rays-ground-rule-double-in-13th-inning-explained

[2] Id.

[3] https://bleacherreport.com/articles/1826398-was-obstruction-the-right-call-to-make-on-wild-last-play-of-game-3

October 11, 2021 in Games, Miscellany, News, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Why Ted Lasso is a great model of being ASP-ish

In our world of Academic Support and Bar Prep, we often say that someone is “Asp-ish” when we want to compliment one of our own.  Someone is ASP-ish if  they are  collaborative, supportive, and embrace things like growth mindset. Someone who is ASP-ish shares ideas, hesitates to take sole credit, is rarely ego driven, and thinks of themselves as a part of a team, not a solo player.

There is a relatively new show put out by AppleTv, “Ted Lasso”, about an American Football Coach from Kansas (Jason Sudeikis) who is hired to coach an English Premier League Football Team, AFC Richmond. He has never been to England and never played English Football, so that’s where the shenanigans begin.

Ted Lasso Trailer

Ted lasso 1

While watching this with my very British husband, it occurred to me even though Ted is a football coach (and a football coach!)  if he made a career change and started teaching Academic Support at a law school, we would definitely embrace him, and say he was very ASP-ish. Not only that, I think we can learn some lessons from him! In fact, I’m not the only one, you can find multiple articles from various fields about things we can learn from Ted about management and leadership.

Also, I tried to keep this spoiler free, but couldn’t do it. So, read at your own risk! Spoilers below! (And if you haven't seen it, go watch now, as it's a great way to relieve stress, and you probably need that)

Ted leads with collaboration and team work, something that we can all agree is at the heart of ASP. In fact, one of the first things he does is push his desk up against the desk of his assistant coach, the aptly named Coach Beard. This is presumably done so they can talk more and collaborate more effectively. He also listens to those that have more expertise than he does. In the beginning, he even lacks the correct vocabulary, but happily lets Coach Beard correct him and teach him.

Moreover, he doesn’t let hierarchy get in the way of good ideas. He meets Nathan, a “lowly” kit boy, who it seems is in charge of things like laundry and pitch maintenance. Despite Nathan’s lack of any credentials, Ted is quick to not only show him respect, but ask for and value his opinion.

In fact, Ted’s major coaching philosophy seems to be to lift up and support those around him. One of my favorite lines is the team owner asking Ted “do you believe in ghosts, Ted?” and Ted responding “Hmm mm,  I do, but more importantly, I think they need to believe in themselves” This sort of sums up Ted’s entire personality. Not only does he ask for Nathan’s name, which is something Nathan seems shocked by when he says “no one has ever asked before”, but Ted is insistent that he is part of the team. When Nathan has an idea for a play, Ted encourages him and uses it. He also has no problem sharing credit, explaining to the local reporter, “Trent Crimm, The Independent” that the play was courtesy of Nathan. The reporter is a bit incredulous that a premier league coach would listen to a “kit boy”, but Ted is unphased. He knows that someone doesn’t need to have credentials to have good ideas, and he also knows that those with higher credentials need to give credit to and support those without. In fact, when facing a team that Richmond hadn’t beaten in 60 years he lets Nathan take over the pregame speech, and by this point, the entire team is embracing Nathan’s ideas.  Finally, in the very last episode, Ted makes sure Nathan is promoted to Coach! This is something our entire community does well – lift each other up and share credit!

Ted and Coach Beard listening aptly to Nate
Ted and Coach Beard listening aptly to Nate

It’s also clear that Ted is all about Growth Mindset, Resilience and Grit. When we first meet Ted, he is on a plane, on his way to London, and a kid comes up to him, excited to meet him. The kid can’t believe what Ted is about to do, and says “You're mental mate, they’re going to murder you.” in reference to coaching a team for a sport he has never played. Ted’s only response is “Yea, I’ve heard that before, but here I am, still dancing.” I love this mindset, and can only hope to learn how to keep dancing from Ted.  There is also a great thruway line in the first episode, when Ted is learning the terminology of English Football “I’m going to get it though, because training makes perfect.”  Finally, at one point, after a frustrating day, he says  “I’m not sure what y’all’s smallest unit of measurement is, but that’s how much headway I made”. The response of the owner is just “and yet you remain undeterred”, which is often how we must all approach academic support. We often feel like we make no headway, yet must keep no dancing. 

The overreaching arc of Ted is that growing as individuals, and as a team, is more important than the score. “For me success is not about the wins or losses, it’s about helping these young fellas be the best versions of themselves, on or off the field.”

First, he recognizes that players need to be supported to be their best. He recognizes that one player, who is new to England from Nigeria, isn’t playing his best because he’s a bit homesick and adjusting. His solution is not to tell him to suck it up or be an adult, but rather to throw him a birthday celebration and create a care package that includes food from Nigeria. Also, instead of immediately talking to players about training, or game strategy, he asks them to put suggestions in a box, and assures them it can be things like water pressure or snacks.. And in fact, he immediately fixes the subpar water pressure, which seems to be a problem the team has dealt with for some time. He recognizes that these things might be small, but the players need to feel listened to and heard. He also genuinely wants to know everyone’s story.  Similarly, I think we often lead the charge in listening to our students needs, even If they are minor.

When he does have to correct players, he doesn’t yell or mock, he is kind. He leads with warmth and understanding, and positive reinforcement. In fact, in one episode, his captain, an aging super star, had a particularly bad game where mistakes were made.  The captain, Roy, says “Can you just tell me I F***ed up and go?” and Ted says he’s not going to do that, and he doesn’t want to hear the self pity. He also encourages him to go easy on himself.

Ted lasso 4
Ted listening to Captain Roy Kent, and not allowing him to beat himself up after a bad game

He also uses his team leaders to encourage other players, much the way we might use peer tutors, or recent alumnae to encourage bar takers. He notices that a couple younger players are constantly picking on Nathan. Instead of yelling at the players himself, which is recognizes could make the situation worse, he makes his Captain, Roy, do it. However, he leads Roy to this conclusion, which makes the lesson stick for both Roy, and the players giving Nathan a hard time.  I think we often look for ways to encourage our students to come up with answers themselves, for this exact reason.

Finally, Ted Lasso bakes. Anyone who has been around me in person knows that I can’t relate to bribing co-workers and students with baked goods.               

However, it’s not all warm and fuzzy. Ted, despite being mostly a ray of positivity, is still human, just like us. He has real problems, and in one scene is depicted going through a very realistic panic attack. Moreover, there is one episode, near the end, where Ted doubles down on how he doesn’t measure success by wins and losses. In a rare show of anger, Coach Beard, screams that of COURSE wins and losses matter. He reminds Ted that these are professional athletes, not children, and wins and losses matter for their career and livelihood.

Similarly, I think we all find this balance between growth and grades a bit difficult. We want to reassure our students that grades don’t matter, because it’s the learning that’s important. But we know better. Grades matter for job prospects, and passing the bar is important for job prospects. Especially when dealing with first generation and underrepresented students who may have few or no connections,  and need to rely on their performance, of COURSE it matters. Maybe it shouldn't, but that's the current reality. 

But, we can still teach and lead with kindness and compassion, and learn from Ted about how to be more ASP-ish. And if you are looking for a stress free tv binge, Ted Lasso has comedy, heart, romance, and some really well wounded and kick-butt female characters!

November 4, 2020 in Encouragement & Inspiration, Film, Sports, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

As a Matter of Course

It is the start of the school year, and we are welcoming new classes of students to begin their courses of study in law school.  Each course of study will comprise a score or more individual courses in particular subjects, and we hope that in due course every student will consume and fully digest a rich multi-course legal banquet. Of course.

Our versatile word "course" is derived from the Latin word "currere", meaning "to run" or "to flow".  In all of its varied uses, it alludes to a sense of movement and progress, and this is particularly fitting when we think of the course of a law student's passage from matriculation to graduation.  They arrive at school, eager and perhaps a bit awed as they imagine themselves advancing, starting off slowly, developing the knowledge, skill, and judgment of an attorney as they make their ways along, and then racing to the finish line to collect their prizes.

To many incoming 1L students, law school may seem like a watercourse -- like a channel through which they will be carried, sometimes swept through dizzying rapids, other times dragged through muddy waters of confounding breadth, ultimately to squeeze past a perilous bar and then be deposited at the port of Career, where their next adventure begins.  In this view, all students need to do is learn to paddle, avoid rocking the boat, and make use of their brains and perseverance, and they will arrive at their destinations.

But there are better courses for comparison.  Law school is best considered like a racecourse or a golf course -- not because their structures are more precisely analogous, but because of the way successful performers approach them.  Sure, great sports performers make the most of their talents and training.  But before they begin a race or a tournament, they get to know the course.  A runner will trace out the course route, measuring the flats and the hills, and will plan out her pacing accordingly.  A golfer will play or at least walk the course, making note of obstacles, slopes, and doglegs, and getting to know the feel of the greens.  A skier will take practice runs down the course, developing a mental map so he can plan when to be cautious, when to be daring, when to push for speed.  Knowing the course means they can make the best use of their skills and strategies over the long term.

So it is in law school.  Week to week, month to month, semester to semester, knowing what it coming means students can expend their resources (time, attention, energy, etc.) more wisely.  It means they can allow sufficient time to prepare for opportunities, or for challenges.  It lessens the chances that they will wander out of bounds or run around in circles.  

This is one of the reasons I love the start of the new academic year.  It gives those of us in Academic Success a wonderful opportunity to provide something of immediate and long-term value to every new student we meet.  We can walk them through the course!  We can explain to them what a typical week will be like.  We can preview all the major tasks of their first semester -- reading, attending class, outlining, midterms, legal writing assignments, practice tests, and final exams -- and help the students develop their own mental maps of the course.  We can give them a bird's-eye of the entire tournament: the timing, value, and effort required of the opportunities and expectations they will encounter over the next few years.  And we can do all of this for them painlessly -- not in response to an individual's frustration or anxiety or poor performance.  It's the best part of the year, because we can give our students something they all can use, whether or not they have come into law school having learned the lesson that so many champions have learned: Successful performers don't see the course as running and carrying them along with it.  They see the course as something they themselves run.

[Bill MacDonald]

August 20, 2019 in Advice, Encouragement & Inspiration, Orientation, Sports, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Keeping Our Students in the Game

Watching the Super Bowl on Sunday made me think of my students.  By no means am I implying any similarity between football and the legal profession.  After all, one is a grueling slugfest, featuring breathlessly intense clashes between aggressive competitors on behalf of highly partisan, sometimes even fanatically tribal, stakeholders, with pride and sometimes lots of money at stake.  The other is just an athletic contest.

No, the reason I thought of my students was the sudden shift in the game in the fourth quarter.  Through the first 50 minutes or so of play, the scores remained unusually low and very close.  Neither team could gain a clear advantage, and with less than ten minutes remaining, the score was still only 3 to 3.  Across the country, spectators were complaining about how stagnant and boring the game seemed.

Suddenly, within a minute or so of game time, everything changed.  The Patriots called a play in which a receiver wound up open in the middle of the field, just beyond the Rams' defensive line, and Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady deftly passed the ball to him and gained several yards.  By itself, the play was only mildly exciting, and then only because it provided comparatively more action than most of the preceding gameplay.  But the Patriots realized right away that the Rams' defense, which up until that time had been pretty successful at confining the Patriots' forward motion, had not had anything in place to keep that lone receiver from appearing unguarded behind the defensive line.  So for the next few plays, the Patriots ran essentially the same play, except for choosing a different receiver to run up the field each time.  In the space of four plays, the team moved all the way down the field and set up the winning touchdown run.

From the Rams' point of view, everything was fine, until suddenly it wasn't.  They were basically evenly matched with their opponents, in a game that looked like it might go into overtime -- and then, in less than a minute, everything fell apart.  One weakness was exposed -- one play that they had no planned defense for -- and before they could adjust to it, the other side had taken advantage of that weakness and taken a significant lead.  And the fact that they were in that distressing position left the team vulnerable to more trouble.  They rushed and ran riskier plays, hoping to score their own tying touchdown in the short time they had left, and under this pressure the Rams' quarterback Jared Goff accidentally threw the ball into the hands of a Patriots defender, leading the Patriots to score an additional three points.  The Rams went from having an even chance of winning to having no chance, all because of one weakness that wasn't addressed quickly enough.

In his fascinating book How We Die, the physician Sherwin B. Nuland explained that human death often follows a similar trajectory.  Laypeople often imagine that those suffering from serious injury or illness usually experience a long but steady decline until they pass away.  However, Nuland pointed out that at least as often, if not more so, the afflicted person manages the illness (or injury, if it is not so catastrophic that it simply kills them right away) fairly handily, with only slight decline or sometimes even with improvement, for days or even weeks.  If nothing bad happens, then they might even make a full recovery.  But if one thing goes wrong and isn't corrected quickly enough, it can cause significant damage, which itself leads to additional life-threatening complications, and in a short time the patient may spiral down past the point where any medical intervention will be enough to save him.  An infected wound, for example, if not treated quickly enough, can lead to a generalized blood infection, which can cause a patient's kidneys, liver, and other organs to stop working properly, and the patient, who otherwise might have almost completely recovered from his initial injury, will die of multiple organ failure.

We see the same phenomenon in other realms than just sports and medicine, such as business and politics.  In any complicated system, there can be long, steady declines, but the sudden drastic reversal, attributable to one or a small number of neglected infirmities, is often more likely.

And the life of a law student is pretty complicated.  New information to learn, new ways to think about it, new tasks to perform, all while juggling stress and ambition and self-doubt and mountains of practicalities like housing and relationships and (painfully often) finances.  We all know that a few students struggle right from the start, but very often students will be managing -- holding their own, even if not excelling -- and then they run into one tribulation they can't fix, and they can't handle.  A course they can't wrap their head around.  A romantic breakup.  Lack of funds to buy textbooks.  A death in the family.  An extracurricular activity that takes up too much time.

It almost doesn't matter what the problem is, because it's just the trigger.  It starts the landslide that could pull the student down.  Struggling in one course, for example, could pull the student's attention away from his other courses, leading to anxiety about not maintaining his GPA . . . and what started as one problem spirals into multiple problems.

The response, from an Academic Success perspective, has to be twofold.  First, we need to be able to detect these kinds of issues as early as possible, before they turn into the equivalent of a touchdown by the other team or a raging blood infection.  We need to have direct interaction with the students most at risk (incoming students, first-generation students, those in danger of financial difficulty, etc.), so we get to know them and encourage them to be forthcoming.  We also need to develop strong networks among those in the faculty and student services who might pass along observations of possible distress.

Second, we need to have systems in place to help these students address these issues quickly, before they do become intractable.  We are expected, of course, to handle purely academic issues on a moment's notice.  But we should also be familiar with other means of support on campus and in the community, to be able to quickly refer students who need help in financial, psychological, spiritual, and other realms. 

Time sometimes really is of the essence.  None of us want to end up being Monday-morning quarterbacks, lamenting that if we had just changed our defense one play sooner, we could have saved the game.

(Bill MacDonald)

February 5, 2019 in Advice, Books, Encouragement & Inspiration, Exams - Studying, Miscellany, Sports, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

March Madness, Law School Edition

It's March!  Time to create tournament brackets for everything, including law school.  This bracket focuses on four key features of law school: podium courses, skills courses, student organizations, and study skills. What's your favorite part of law school?  Want to make some changes to the bracket?  If so, Download Tournament bracket here.  Have fun and may the best bracket win!  (Kirsha Trychta)   

Tournament bracket

March 6, 2018 in Games, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Power of Positive Thinking

It can be quite difficult to adopt and maintain a positive outlook when everything around you seems to be falling apart. You may not find yourself in a position to have a positive attitude when time seems to evade you and you simply cannot find ample time to complete each and every task. This is a particularly stressful period of time for various populations I interact with; therefore, why not address positive thinking? 1Ls have possibly received feedback from a midterm and now have to change everything about the way they study, all while balancing their final writing assignment for the legal writing course. 2Ls and some 3Ls completed the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) and some are now questioning whether or not they adequately prepared for the exam to obtain the desired score. Others are hoping to have successfully passed the MPRE so they do not have to take it again or take it for the third time if this is their second go at it. 3Ls are starting to panic as they realize that this is the last set of exams and all that stands between them and a law license are bar applications, final grades, and the bar exam. For all these groups, there are a few short weeks prior to final exams and each day gets them even closer.

With the above-mentioned concerns and the semester progressively nearing a close, students are tense and quite stressed. I try to keep all of this in perspective as I interact with these students individually and collectively. A positive attitude is infectious and with each interaction, my intent is to highlight positivity thus enabling students to focus on the “big picture” while remaining positive in each challenge they face along the way. A positive disposition can lead to success when obstacles are no longer viewed as obstacles but rather seen as opportunities. Individuals are more disposed to help others with a positive attitude and more likely to avoid those with a negative attitude. Negative thoughts, words, and attitudes generate negative feelings, moods, and behaviors. Negativity can forge a pathway to failure, frustration, and disappointment. I have witnessed students talk themselves out of opportunities and successes simply because of fear which generated negative attitudes.

How then does one address the inevitable occasional negative feelings? Creating a vision board with a list of things you aspire to have and are working towards. Stating weekly affirmations that uplift, encourage, and empower you. Adopting positive words in your inner dialogue or when interacting with others. Being cognizant of your negative internal dialogue and quickly changing it to positives can work wonders. All the best with the final stretch. (Goldie Pritchard)

November 8, 2017 in Advice, Encouragement & Inspiration, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 4, 2017

Ready. Set. Go, 1Ls--You are in Training Camp Now!

Dog Glasses books

We just completed our first week of school at Carolina Law. Like many law students throughout the country, our 1Ls experienced their first week of Socratic classes. They read and briefed their cases. They’ve been introduced to legal citations and the hierarchy of authority. They’ve taken advantage of the free lunches provided at the various student organization meetings.

After a week of law school, many 1Ls may wonder whether they will have enough time during the day to stay afloat. They may worry that they are spending way too much time reading their cases. And despite the large amount of time that they are devoting to reading their cases, they may mistakenly fear that they are the only ones in their classroom who are not able to fully follow the various hypotheticals that their professors ask in class. They may question whether they are fit for law school.

1Ls: If you are feeling this way, remember that law school is a marathon. There may be times during the year when you feel like you have to run a little faster than normal. But, the sprint for the finish line is really not until the end of the semester when you have to answer the final exam hypotheticals.

Training3

Consider a lot of what is happening during the semester as your training for that sprint. Yes. You might falter every now and then as you train. But, don’t get discouraged. Try to learn from the misstep, and fine-tune your next step so that you continue to progress. You are just starting to develop your critical thinking muscles. You are beginning to strengthen your ability to perform legal analysis. You are establishing a foundation of stamina that will help push you through the marathon—including the sprint to the end.

Like many athletes who start a new sport season, you are in a training camp right now. And this training camp is unlike any other training camp you have experienced before. Learning how to learn the law takes time. It takes practice. It takes repetition. Keep putting in the time, because the more you practice, the better you will get. But, make sure that you are active and engaged when you are reading and studying. You can’t passively learn the law; you have to be present and in the moment. And make sure to leave some time for you to do the kinds of things that make you “You.” Law school is a big part of who you are right now. But, it is not all of you.

You will find that it will take you less time to read and brief your cases in the next few weeks. You will find that your critical thinking skills will begin to improve. You will find that your ability to synthesize rules and apply those rules to different factual scenarios will become easier and, dare I say . . . fun!

Best of luck as you continue your training! And remember you have great ASP folks at your schools to help coach you and cheer you on! (OJ Salinas)

September 4, 2017 in Advice, Diversity Issues, Encouragement & Inspiration, Exams - Studying, Miscellany, Orientation, Reading, Sports, Stress & Anxiety, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 19, 2017

Make Time for Exercise

We encourage our students to get regular exercise to relieve stress, improve sleep, and stay healthy. Most experts recommend 150 minutes of exercise a week - usually in five 30-minute increments. Inside Higher Education had a recent post focused on tips for graduate students on prioritizing fitness as part of their schedules. Even more important perhaps for law students! The blog post is here.

June 19, 2017 in Sports, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Done is better than perfect

I am in the middle (or actually, the middle of the end) of writing my first law review article in 7 years. It has been a monumental task, starting with the fact that I am terribly out of practice. The Bluebook has changed since the last time I published in a law review (and I wasn't great at Bluebooking to begin with!) I have only had a month of solid writing time, although I have been researching and writing piecemeal for almost a year. To get inspired this morning, because I am so tantalizingly close to the end, but just so burnt out and exhausted, I read an article in the Chronicle of Higher Ed comparing writing to running. I am a long distance runner, primarily at the 10k to half-marathon length, so I thought the article could help inspire me. And she did have some good advice.

Done is better than perfect. As I write, I think about all the connections I should be making. However, I don't have the time to write the article of my dreams, I have to finish. And done is better than perfect. I think this also applies to bar takers. So many high-achieving students get stuck during bar prep because they have trained themselves to be perfect. On law school exams, aiming for perfect is important if you want to be in the top of your class. But for bar prep, just getting the work done is more important than perfect. You can't be perfect when you have so many subjects to cover, and so little time.

Writing and running each require one small step. An article doesn't come out whole in a day or a week. Neither does bar prep. Each are about taking one small step, then another, and so on. Because if you look at the project, the race, or the bar exam, as one giant  monolith, you will never get started. And you have to get started. And you have to keep going when you only have 4 pages of a 30 page article, or you have only read one subject in a 15 subject outline, or you have run one mile, and have 12.1 more to go.

So with that, I need to get back to writing. I am working on one of my last sections, a section that is dear to my heart--ASP. And then I need to write my conclusions. Wish me luck. And to all of you working on the bar exam, good luck to you, too. I hope to see fellow ASPers at LWI next week.

(RCF)

 

 

June 28, 2014 in Advice, Bar Exam Issues, Bar Exam Preparation, Miscellany, Sports, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)