Monday, November 29, 2021

Idle Times

Every summer, our family rents a (dog friendly) house out on Cape Cod. Recently, we have been renting bicycles when we get there at a bike rental place called Idle Times. It isn’t fancy, but it is friendly--the name is welcoming and seems to be assuring us that we need not race or even labor much to get around on the bicycles. It is the kind of place where an old black lab lies in the overgrown seagrass and seems to will the kids trying out bicycles to go around him rather than move from his shady spot. It is idyllic-no false advertising involved. This past weekend (that started on a Wednesday-shouldn’t they all?) was also gloriously idle (aside from the cooking, cleaning, laundry, and latkes). I removed my laptop from the table (yes, the new one for those of you who have been following these posts) and didn’t return it to its spot until yesterday. And here I am on a Monday morning trying to jump start my professional brain after this lovely idleness.

Today is the last day of classes for us. While many might think that this is the beginning of a nice break for all academics, it is absolutely crunch time for ASP folks. There are students panicked about finals. They seem shocked that exams are almost upon us despite all the warning signs. I agree that by the time we develop our fall mojo, it is already Veteran’s Day-which was less than three weeks ago. Fall seems like a slow walk uphill to a sudden cliff, while spring semester seems like a cold, dark walk through a cave into the light. 

Nonetheless, we are about to begin our "reading days." I’m not sure how much time between classes ending and exams beginning is just right; I don’t think there is a one size fits all time period, but our 1L students have around 2.5 days.

Here is (some of) what I advise students to do now and during these days and the exam period:

  1. Get out of the law school building (we are all in one building here). The air is thick with stress and every little whisper will make you think someone knows something you don’t about a class you are in. I point out to our students that we are (in the fall at least) out of sync with our undergraduate and business schools, so their libraries might be a better place to study if a library is your preferred spot. At least the din there won’t make you feel unnecessarily inadequate. In pre-COVID times I would also recommend a coffee place (away from school) or even my favorite, the café at the Museum of Fine Arts (excellent place to study and wonderful place to be when you need a break from it).
  1. Make an exam plan. Work backwards from your last exam and plan reasonable study schedules for each day. Remember to add a teaser of the exam after the immediate one into your plan-so if Civ. Pro is on Thursday, you can take an hour and review a little Crim because that is next and so on.
  1. Attend to your hygiene and health! Seriously, this is going to be a marathon, pace yourself and be sure to stay hydrated. Don’t take unnecessary pandemic risks right now. Showering is important even if the alternative can help with social distancing.
  1. Practice writing answers and doing multiple choice questions: while reading carefully will be an important part of your exams, you will still need to produce an answer. You should practice essays often enough that IRAC is a muscle memory. Do enough multiple-choice questions that you are not confused by slight changes in terminology (because…gasp…sometimes doctrinal professors do not write their own questions). Remember, a good way to be prepared for exams is to be a PERP: Prepared for class, Engaged in class, Reviewing after class and Practicing. Ok, now I can see why this didn’t catch on, PERP is just not going to happen. But there is still hope for fetch.
  1. Handle different subjects with different strategic approaches: Civil Procedure is linear and chronological; Contracts is transactional; Torts and Criminal law just beg for making a chart with all the people and causes of action involved and so on…
  1. Just get started: if you are lost on the exam, start with something you can answer to get the brain engaged and then go back. However, do not go back and change any multiple-choice answers if you have already made a choice-it will not end well.
  1. Get out again-after the exam, leave the building. Do not discuss it with other people. I know that talking about a shared trauma can be therapeutic, but this will not be. I promise. Think about what you have done well on this exam and then move on with your plan. As Timon famously says in The Lion King, “You gotta put your past behind you.”
  1. When all the exams are over, enjoy the idle time.

(Liz Stillman)

November 29, 2021 in Advice, Encouragement & Inspiration, Exams - Studying, Stress & Anxiety, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Semester Nearing an End, so Exhaustion is Increasing

The end of the semester is near.  Many of us are feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.  The meetings, classes, feedback, and other help we provide pushes us to our limits each semester.  I want everyone in ASP and law schools in general to know, you are not alone.  That feeling is normal.  2 of the top 7 articles from Education Week last week related to teacher exhaustion and the need for mental health resources for teachers.  I agree and believe the same is true for ASP.  We see colleagues every year go back into law practice or take jobs at commercial education companies (bar review, etc.).  As we continue to promote mental health awareness for students, we should consider how we can promote similar programs for each other.  

I especially like the program discussed in the second article.  A school district provided mental health services for teachers because they thought teacher well being would help them serve students.  Of the teachers responding to a survey after the program, 100 percent said the services improved both their own and their students' well-being.  Law schools should consider this approach.  The two articles from last week are linked below. 

What Teaches Who Might Quit Are Really Thinking

Teachers Need Therapy

I hope everyone's semester ends well and you get the break you need.

(Steven Foster)

November 7, 2021 in Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 18, 2021

Hitting the Wall

In the musical Hamilton, Eliza tries to persuade her husband, Alexander, to take a break, “Take a break…Run away with us for the summer. Let's go upstate…There's a lake I know…In a nearby park. I'd love to go.”[1]  Alexander refuses to go and, no spoilers beyond this, it doesn’t end well.

Two weeks ago, on the first Monday in October, I asked my undergraduates why this time of year was so important, and one student said, “It’s spooky season.” I was trying to get at the Supreme Court getting back to work (on what very well may a spooky season of cases), but it is also, as ASP folks know, that scary time of year when our 1Ls hit a wall. I’ve stockpiled candy (easy this time of year), tissues, and some advice.

We all know that 1Ls have a moment of crisis when they lose their altruism about helping the world with their law degree and become caught up in a smaller world of grades, midterms, legal writing assignments, outlining, and the overwhelmingness of just showing up for class. Students lose sight of why they even came to law school to begin with. Surely, masochism wasn’t the reason mentioned in their application personal statements. Sometimes, students need to be reminded of their initial reasons for being a lawyer. A gentle reminder might be enough for some students. It never hurts to tell them that no one really comes to law school to be a law student, they come to become a lawyer. Being a law student is temporary. And while it seems counterintuitive to advise taking a break, that is the advice I often give them at this point in the semester.

This may be a perfect time for a student to take a small break (hours, not days). Midterms are over, legal writing is less intense (for the moment) and they have been doing the reading, briefing, and outlining for long enough that it isn’t all consuming. Honestly, if Boston was a drag queen, this time of year would be its death drop in terms of the weather and natural beauty. Soon enough, everything will ramp up again and often with larger consequences, but at this very moment, a few hours spent away from law school is doable.

To that end, I have “prescribed” a drive to a beach town about 40 minutes north of here with saltwater taffy, a giant rocky sea wall that is both walkable and climbable, and just sitting at the edge of the ocean and getting perspective. Need something closer? Walk down to the aquarium, smell the ocean, and watch the harbor seals frolic in the outdoor (free!) exhibit. Even closer? Walk the Freedom Trail (it is right outside the doors to our law school). Really, anything can be a break; the only rules are no books, no laptop, and no regrets. Time spent rebuilding yourself is priming the pump for students (and faculty). The investment will pay off.

So be on the lookout for students hitting the wall. Be their Eliza. I would always prefer my students took a break than get broken.

(Liz Stillman)

 

[1] © Lin-Manuel Miranda

October 18, 2021 in Advice, Encouragement & Inspiration, Stress & Anxiety, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Taking Control

My mind is a chatterbox, running constantly, whether at work, at home, in the car, or walking.  There seems to be no escape from the clamor of attention that my mind asks of me.

Often, I'm brainstorming ways to improve what I do for my job.  But more often, it's just worry, plain and simple.  

To be frank, that's because I just feel a lot like an imposter.  What do I really know?  How can I really contribute?  So I stay ultra-busy.  However, I can guarantee you, I am not being paid to work 24/7.  

Yet it seems like I do.  Perhaps you do too. Work-life is out of control. Worry-life too.

Let me ask you a question that I'm asking myself.  

Why do I have this constant itch to check my phone, my email, my messages?  

In order to answer this, I thought I'd have a mythical conversation with Socrates, returning to our modern world today, who crosses our paths today.

-------------------

Worry Wart: Wow. That is a strange costume. It almost looks like something straight out of ancient Athens and you too.

Socrates: That's because I am.

Worry Wart: You are what?

Socrates: I am Socrates.

Worry Wart: Come on.  I admit that you look like the genuine article but what is you gig?

Socrates: What do you mean gig?

Worry Wart: You know, what's your deal? 

Socrates: Deal?

Worry Wart: Your stick?

Socrates: Oh, that's my walking stick.  You know I am getting a bit old.

Worry Wart: No, I mean what are you doing here, at our law school?

Socrates: I'm doing what I always do, observe, question, and learn.

Worry Wart: Okay.  I'll play your little game.

Socrates: Games have very little to do it.

Worry Wart: What's the it?

Socrates: Thinking.  So shall we begin?

Worry Wart:  Fine.  Let the "games" begin. Oh, I"m sorry, let the "thinking" begin.

Socrates: May I ask you about the slim box in your hand?  You seem to keep rubbing it or something.  Is it your good luck charm?

Worry Wart: Oh no. It's my phone, a pocket phone. It lets me communicate with others and, as you say, to observe, question, and think.

Socrates: What are you thinking about?

Worry Wart: Oh I'm just checking my email?

Socrates: Email?

Worry Wart: Just a phrase of speech.  It's just a fancy way to say checking letters that are sent to me straight to my phone, sort of like an old parchment back in your day, without the delay.

Socrates: I see.  But you keep checking it quite frequently? Are you expecting a letter?

Worry Wart: You never know.

Socrates: That's what we are here to fine out.  What we know.

Worry Wart: Ok, I'll answer your question.  I'm a professor, perhaps like you, and I've got a lot of students that I work with, and you just never know when they might need my help.  And, I work in a big organization, a school, with lots of communications from the administrators and supervisors and my colleagues too.  You just never know when someone might write an email, I mean a "letter," that will need a quick response from me.

Socrates: Seems tedious and tiring to me, to always be alert, waiting for what might never come.

Worry Wart: That's the way that we do it in this modern age.  No time to waste.  

Socrates: But aren't you wasting time, constantly touching your phone to check your, what do you call it, emails?

Worry Wart: I hadn't thought about that. I didn't even realize that I was checking my phone constantly.

Socrates: Now we are getting somewhere.  The path to learning begins when we realize that we know so little, about ourselves and especially about others.

Worry Wart: Excellent point, Socrates. But what do you suggest I do?  You never know. There could be an urgent message at just this moment and I will miss out.

Socrates: What do you suggest?  Are you missing out on other tasks, perhaps even more important, why you wait on a letter that might never come?

Worry Wart: I hadn't thought about that too.  Let's see. But I am so busy.

Socrates: Why are you so busy?

Worry Wart: That's easy. Because I have so much to do.

Socrates: And, why do you have so much to do?

Worry Wart: That's easy. Because I am so busy.

Socrates: It seems like we've gone in a big circle. I'm beginning to wonder whether your phone is a device that makes you go in a circle, wandering aimlessly from task to task, worried that you might miss something important. Why don't you try being "un-busy?"

Worry Wart: If it were only that easy.  But you are a person of ancient ways.  The modern world is the way of bustle and hustle.  If I don't stay busy, I am at risk of missing something, or worse, being replaced.

Socrates: By another phone?

Worry Wart: Oh no, by another person with a phone.

Socrates: So is you're real worry that you are replaceable?  Just a cog in a big machine that can easily be switched out for a new version?

Worry Wart: I suppose so.  But I wonder if it's something else, this strange tendency that I haven't noticed before, this constant itching, to always be touching and looking at my phone. I wonder if it's fear.

Socrates: If so, we can find out.  What might you be afraid of?

Worry Wart: Hmm. This is a bit embarrassingly and humbling.

Socrates: The truth often is.

Worry Wart: I might just be afraid of myself, to be alone, to be quiet, to be present with myself. In short, to be real.

Socrates: So what might you do about that?

Worry Wart:  I might just have to switch off this phone, or put it away, or even better yet, remove the emails from my phone so that I am just not so tempted to always be looking at my phone for the latest messages and news.

Socrates: Hmm. Go on, please.

Worry Wart:  Well, that seems like it might just be a concrete start out of this maddening electronic circle that seems to have me roped into tangles.

Socrates: Indeed it does seem so.  But I'm not sure what concrete is, though I've heard of Crete.

-----------------------

Notes to Reader:

(1) And that's what I just did.  I just removed my work email from my smartphone.  It's not my work phone after all, anyhow.  

(2) I got this idea of a hypothetical conversation with ancient Socrates when I stumbled onto a book at my local bookstore by philosopher Peter Kraft, entitled "The Best Things in Life," which involves the tale of a mythical Socrates visiting a college campus asking people about their lives. (Scott Johns).

 

 

September 23, 2021 in Advice, Stress & Anxiety | 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)

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Take Time to Fully Heal

The sun was beating down on us, but that wouldn't stop the intensity.  We weren't keeping an official score, but every possession matters in driveway basketball.  However long the game lasts, you don't let up on defense.  I didn't care that I was playing against an opponent 29 years younger and 19 inches shorter.  My son would not get his shot off.  I was in great defensive posture and moving my feet.  Any little league coach would be proud of my defense.  I was step for step with him when I feel a pop.  I crumple on the asphalt and scream in agony.  I am in some of the most pain I have ever felt.  

My sports experience is similar to events that happen to all of us.  Bar results are coming out, and some people don't pass.  That is excruciating.  Some students aren't allowed to continue with law school.  Academic Support Professionals will work with someone and they don't succeed.  Most students get a bad grade.  That list is the tip of the iceberg.  Many of us have events in our personal life that are painful.  My biggest suggestion is to learn from my mistakes and fully heal from the experience.

After getting help back inside with almost no weight on my ankle, here is what I did:

  1. Used WebMD to self-diagnosis a grade 2 sprain instead of going to the doctor
  2. Lightly rested it, and then played golf 3 days later
  3.  Ice it some but not enough
  4. Continue to overuse it, ie - caddying 18 holes (for the son who caused the injury) prior to fully healing

My actions are not what I tell my students or my friends.  I would tell anyone to take the time to fully heal from whatever pains you.  Go to someone for advice.  If it is a bad grade or not passing the bar exam, seek out your Academic Support Professional.  As an ASPer, if you are struggling, seek out colleagues.  We all need help sometimes.  WebMd is a poor substitute for medical advice.  Don't make the same mistakes I did with what you are going through.  Seek help from others and take the time to fully heal before putting full weight onto the next event.

In case you are wondering, he still didn't score.

(Steven Foster)

September 12, 2021 in Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Using YOUR Senses to Make Sense of Cases

In follow-up to Professor Victoria McCoy Dunkley's outstanding blog post entitled "Be in Your Bag (of Questions) as a 1L Reader," here's some thoughts about how you might use your senses to help make sense of the cases that you are assigned for class reading: https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/academic_support/2021/08/be-in-your-bag-of-questions-as-a-1l-reader.html

But first a story...

I've been doing a lot of walking.  In fact, I've walked about 380 miles from Denver to Durango on the Colorado Trail (I still have about 120 miles to go of high altitude terrain).  As a person who fractured my back two summers ago in a car accident, I'm a slow mover and that's okay.

You see, as Professor Denise DeForest at Colorado Law quips, when you find yourself lost, "slow down, stop, and sit on a log."  I love logs, rocks, and boulders.  My favorite time on the trail is resting.  But, as I sit on a log recuperating, my senses come alive.  I start to hear buzzing.  I spot all kinds and manners of activity that I missed while hiking, like the scurry of ants preparing for the fall mountaintop snow storms.  My hands feel the bark of the downed log that has become my lounging spot.  In short, just because I stopped doesn't mean that I stopped learning and experiencing. Rather, by slowing down and stopping, I saw more than I did while moving.

There's a lot to be gleaned from these sorts of experiences.  Most of our lives, let's be honest, are lived in haste.  As though there's no time to waste.  But critical reading takes pondering time; it takes using your senses to experience what the parties might have felt like when they litigated the case that you are reading, what they might have exclaimed or cursed when the decision came out, how the court might have explored and explained how they viewed the case and the facts.  

So, in follow-up to yesterday's excellent blog post on 1L reading, feel free to journey through and with the cases.  Situation yourself in them.  Be expressive, feel free to be combatant and skeptical, let yourself run wild, so to speak, as you give voice to what you are seeing, as you learn and question and interpret what you are reading.  That's learning.  In other words, it's going to take time.  But it is not wasted time at all.  

That being said, I spent all of first-year of law school super-afraid (really most of law school) because I'm not good speaker or a reader (I was a mathematician in college).  And, the gold lettering on most of the case books - with lots of red and black - psyched me out.  

But not all that is gold glitters.  Much of what you read is, well, not very well-written or good or even just.  So take aim at it.  Don't let the cases fool you.  You belong in law school, which means that your voice and life counts.  Share it with others.  And, as you journey through reading, let me know what you are learning. I'd love to hear from you!  (Scott Johns).

August 19, 2021 in Advice, Encouragement & Inspiration, Learning Styles, Stress & Anxiety, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Pandemic Conversations & Cognitive Overload

As Professor Elizabeth Stillman comments in an excellent blog post entitled "Jazz Hands," we've been making the best in the midst of the pandemic in learning to engage in "pandemic teaching." E. Stillman, "Jazz Hands," (May 17, 2021).t.

That made me think about our pandemic conversations, which so many of us have hosted, shared, and participated in through Skype and zoom and other technological mediums of expression.  

It's brought us together but at what cost, if any?

Well, according to an article by writer Joanna Stern, there can be a lot at stake in making the choice as to the method of communication that we use with others.  Unfortunately, Stern suggests, we too often turn - too quickly - to zoom and other such innovations without realizing the cognitive loads that visual chats can impose upon us all.  J. Stern, "Stop with the Video Chats Already. Just Make a Voice Call," WSJ (May 26, 2021)

June 3, 2021 in Advice, Encouragement & Inspiration, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 28, 2021

Jazz Hands

This has been a year (and a half!) of teaching while sitting down. It has been 18 months of waist up business attire and knowing what our neighbors are up to 24/7. It has been so many things, both good and bad, and I hope it is just about over so we can go back into the sunlight.

Have you ever gone through a series of tunnels when driving? Here in Boston, when you are going to the airport, your route may take you underground (where we buried the highway) and then outside-- for a brief moment --before you are plunged into another tunnel that goes under Boston Harbor. The tiles on the inside of the tunnels are coded to let you know what you are under: brown for under land and blue for under water. Or to put it in Paul Revere: brown if by land and blue if by sea and the airport on the other end of the second tunnel will be…

But, last year when we were all pivoting to teaching remotely, it was like entering the first tunnel. It took a bit of time to get our eyes adjusted to the dark and we may have lost our navigator for a few minutes, but we looked at the walls, figured out what we were under and hoped to settle in for the ride. For any of you who have ever driven to the airport in Boston, you would not be surprised to know that there was, of course, bumper to bumper traffic in the tunnel. And for further frustration, you entered the tunnel in the left lane and your exit was four lanes over on the right. So now, you cannot tell how much longer you will be in this tunnel or when your exit is coming up. I think that sums up pandemic teaching: you are plunged into darkness, you need to recalibrate your bearings, people are a bit panicked and all trying to get to the same place, and you don’t know how much longer the journey will go on in this lane before you need to move over and get out.

So, we learned how to teach remotely; we did it quickly and mainly in fits and starts. Then we re-started in the fall as masters of breakout rooms, shared screens, and the elusive polling feature.  We learned how to write online quizzes and exams. We saw students at times and on days we ordinarily would not be available, because, honestly, where were we going? We got used to seeing our students in class as if they were a grandmother’s wallet full of school pictures.  It seemed fitting that this part of the journey was tiled in brown. And then, there was talk of a vaccine and we emerged from the first tunnel into the light. It was a brief respite from the crowded darkness and we blinked because the light was a big change.

It was, however, like the trip above, just a moment before we entered the next tunnel. We had left the one that had us buried underground and moved onto the one that is underwater. It has more clearly marked exits and will get us to our destination more smoothly.  It is newer and brighter than the one we just left, but it is still tiled in blue. Blue for people who didn’t make it there, blue for the students who didn’t have the experience they were anticipating, and blue from the isolation of all this time underwater.  I think we all have some fear of being blinded a bit when we leave this tunnel as my esteemed colleague Steven Foster mentioned in his last post here. He raises the issue of how much time will we need to get readjusted to our surroundings? Even good changes are hard.

I know that in time, we will forget the feeling of being in these tunnels—and I also know that today is not that day-- but it will come. As we look in the rearview mirror, we will have glimpses of this tunneled life—something we see or hear that brings us back to the tunnel—and for me I think it will be saying goodbye with jazz hands instead of a casual wave. And I’ll sigh and be glad we made it to the airport and on to the next journey.

(Elizabeth Stillman - Guest Blogger)

May 28, 2021 in Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Back to Normal?

The spring semester included many of the same precautions as last fall.  Social distancing, masks, and some online classes.  Last week, all that changed in Oklahoma.  Nearly every major University announced new guidelines which included no masks on campus for vaccinated individuals (some campuses no masks at all) and no social distancing in classrooms.  The message is go back to normal, but is that possible?  Should we?

I am having trouble describing my feeling with the sudden back to normal message.  Many summer classes are following the new protocols.  The message seems to ignore 18 months of tragedy that changed the way we delivered education and interacted with the world.  We should turn the clock back to 2019 and proceed as if the pandemic never happened.  Businesses and schools seem to be in a rush to claim everything is normal.  I am not sure the community members feel the same way.

I cannot speak for those who experienced unimaginable tragedy the past year.  However, I can imagine some feeling the sudden dismantling of the vast majority of regulations as ignoring the last 18 months.  The sudden change doesn't feel sympathetic to our communities.  I also believe the insatiable drive to be back to normal ignores progress we made delivering education.  We should take advantage of new innovations.  We can use the new tools to help students learn.  Within our Universities, the message should be to utilize the best forms of all the delivery methods to reach all our students.  Some students thrived over the last 18 months.  We should help them continue to thrive by teaching them how to use their new forms of learning in their "normal" classes.  They shouldn't go back to former ineffective techniques.  We should help others get back to their better studying techniques because they didn't do as well.  They will also require help recalling what worked best prior to last fall.  Students and professors will need time process how to proceed going forward.  

The pandemic affected everyone, but ASPers can be at the forefront of the transition to a new normal.  You will help some people cope with what happened over the past year.  You will help others try to utilize those great new study techniques.  Faculty may ask you how to integrate new technology or teaching techniques into classes.  The last year was extremely hard on students, so ASPers will be tasked with helping those catch up to be ready for the bar exam.  ASP can and will be at every step of the oncoming transition.  

The last 15 months has affected everyone in a myriad of ways.  No one experienced the pandemic the same.  Everyone will need a little different help, and ASPers (all of us) have the unique opportunity to impact people.  We can help individuals and entire communities.  Also know, that we (all of us) will also need similar help transitioning back to our jobs.  I encourage everyone to do 3 things.  Help your law school community, help other ASPers in your state/region, and seek out help from someone in your area.  For some, the change will come fast.  Let's all seek the help we need so we can keep helping others.

(Steven F0ster)

May 23, 2021 in Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Surprising Antidotes to Combat Anxieties

As relayed by Elizabeth Bernstein in an article entitled "New Ways to Calm Pandemic Anxiety," psychiatrist and neuroscientist Judson Brewer suggests "two surprising strategies to combat [worry]: Curiosity and Kindness.  Bernstein, E., Health & Wellness, Wall Street Journal, p. A10 (Mar. 2, 2021).  

Let me say at the outset that I am plagued by anxiety, stress, worry.  I won't go into the gory details but, at its heart, I suspect is a sense that I don't quite fit, don't quite measure up to what it takes to serve as an educator, and that someday I will be found to be lacking.  I suppose I often label my successes, to the extent that I see them, as just the products of serendipity and good luck.

I suspect that many students also feel that way.  Unsure about how to succeed in law school, on the bar exam, or on job interviews, students often try to mold themselves into someone who they are not.  In short, they act the part, which only exaggerates the worries, not realizing that law schools admitted them, not for the purpose of sculpting them into robotic works of mechanical lawyering, so to speak, but rather as creative, curious, compassionate people aspiring to do great things for others by serving others in the midst of some of their most difficult moments.

For me, anxiety is a product of not giving myself the liberty to be myself. For our students, it's not giving them the platform and opportunity to let them shine, to succeed even when they make mistakes, to work out with them their own path forward, to help them develop their own sense of place and perspective and voice in the law.  In short, I sense that many students feel disembodied and disempowered in the midst of their law school experiences.  The remedy - empowerment.

Let me make this concrete.  What might this look like for academic support educators?

Let me ask you a question first.  Before the "zoom-age," tell me about your office.  What's it look like?  How is it structured?  What do you share and make visible to your students?  

For many, I suspect that the office looks a bit like a jailhouse interrogation room, cold and inhospitable, squaring off in direct face-to-face accusatory positions, student sitting across from teacher, often in a low set chair, with the teacher in a high backed chair.

In this world of online teaching and conferencing, I suspect that "zoom" accentuates the face-off posturing of the traditional office meetings with enlarged faces and less opportunities to glance away, pull back, and facilitate conversation with non-verbal signals.

In the physical world of coaching, I coach.  What I mean by this is that, when I met with a learner, I get up out out of my chair, move in front of my desk, welcome the person to my office, and move to a circular table, set with two chairs, with each of us facing the middle of the table.  In that way, we can focus together, for example, in reviewing exam results, by placing exam answers where we can both read them and work through them together.  

As Dr. Brewer -referenced earlier in this blog - indicates, curiosity and kindness are two of the most important perspectives that we can take in order to help turn the anxieties of our students into positive concrete actions for improved learning, well-being, and growth.  Id. 

One way to help our students in dealing with their academic anxieties is to center our activities with them as adventures together in learning to learn, curiously and with compassion.  And that can start with just how we position ourselves with them.  Rather than as adversaries or critics, we can work with out students to be problem-solvers together.  That's a great way to help overcome anxiety, both for our students and ourselves, too.  (Scott Johns).

 

 

 

May 13, 2021 in Advice, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Missing Spring Break

I don’t know about your law school, but we did not have a regular week-long spring break this year. Instead, perhaps as an afterthought, we were awarded a one-day reprieve which occurred on St. Patrick’s Day…in Boston (people who have ever lived in Boston will know what I mean).

I truly understand why we did not have our usual break. We are part of a university that has undergraduates, as well as a business school, and we did not want students leaving and returning to campus in the middle of a pandemic, especially since these students are most likely to be vaccinated in the last wave. As a result, we started a week later in January to allow more self-quarantining and to keep our end dates and commencement on schedule. One Wednesday in the middle of March made sense from a strategic planning point of view.

And yet, this is the week I have spent the most time talking to tearful and anxious students who have hit a wall. This is also the week that students have disappeared from my radar and I have had the most correspondence with our Dean of Students Office about students I am worried about. I have begun starting my emails to them with, “me again...” and ending them with, “again, sorry to add something else to your plate.” Joni Mitchell was absolutely right when she said, “Don't it always seem to go; That you don't know what you've got till it's gone.[1]” Sigh.

The one class I teach on Wednesdays is a one-credit MPT driven class. We meet for about an hour at the utter apex of the workweek: high noon. I am never sure if I should ask how everyone’s weekend was or whether I should wish them a good one-it is an awkward time for small talk. I’d like to think that this class, at its silly time, is an oasis in an otherwise Zoomful chaos. Since spring “break,” fell on our class day, I told the students in this class that I would consider the day sacred and assign no new work or have any assignments due, so long as they each did something that gave them joy and send me a picture to prove it. I wanted students to think that the one “assignment” they had, for the one day of break they had, was to do one thing that brought them joy. In return, I promised I would send them my proof as well.

As usual, this class of students did not disappoint. The first picture I received was of an absolutely adorable baby and the caption, “I’m spending some time with my niece!” This was followed by a selfie of a student driving a few dogs to the dog park-even the basset hound looked cheerful. So far, I have received photos of snuggly kittens, excited meetings with friends, a birthday cake, a recent publication, a dog who had lost a battle with a skunk but smiled at a bath, a bubble bath drawn and ready (for a human), a map of a five-mile run, and a pizza from a favorite place shared with a favorite person. The picture of a visit with a grandmother--for the first time in a year-- made me cry. In return, my students got a series of shots from me that included: a recipe, my gathered ingredients, batter in a pan, and, finally, my son eating a gooey brownie. The fact that not everyone was in a position to engage in happy activities was not lost on me either-there are no consequences or penalties for not sending the picture and pictures were sent only to me, not the whole class.

While our Wednesday off was something, it was also clear that one day was not enough of a break for students in times that are already fraught. It is not enough time for a student to turn away from the pressure of law school and then, refreshed, turn back to finish up the semester. Everything we do these days seems both rushed and suspended in time, abbreviated and yet drawn out. I worry that we will crawl over the finish line at the end of the semester at exactly the time students need to summon the energy to run. Safety and wellness do not belong on opposite sides of the same scale and I hope that we are not forced to weigh them against each other again. Next year, may we all find ourselves somewhere with, “a pink hotel, a boutique, and a swingin' hot spot[2]” for spring break.

(Elizabeth Stillman - Guest Blogger)

 

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2595abcvh2M (last accessed March 19, 2021).

[2] Id.

March 27, 2021 in Encouragement & Inspiration, Stress & Anxiety, Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Was It Enough?

A golfer is staring down a putt to win the tournament.  His mind races to everything he could have done to prepare for that moment.  He wonders, "did I do enough?"  Moments before the gun sounds, the sprinter's mind wanders "did I prepare hard enough?"  The list could be endless.  Notable sports psychologists say one of the top fears of athletes is the fear of not doing enough and not being good enough.  The fear permeates minds moments before an event and can distract from performance.  

Athletes aren't alone.  Law students fear the same thing every November/December and April/May.  They wonder if they read enough, studied enough, or completed enough practice problems.  Some wonder if they met with professors enough.  Enough becomes the amorphous standard to measure past actions mere moments before performance.

The enough standard poses a few problems.  The standard is too vague to reasonably measure, and it is different for every person.  Students then proceed to say last semester's actions were or were not enough based on final grades.  Grades are a poor measure of "enough."  Enough connotes quantity, and sometimes, students do study enough.  They just studied the wrong way or wrong material.

The more significant problem with enough is it breeds perfectionism.  Athletes don't know whether they are training enough while training, and without that feedback, they could always do more.  The golfer could practice 100 more 5 foot putts, and the 5 footer to win would be easier.  The swimmer could stay in the pool an hour longer or lift weights 1 more time.  One mistake and they didn't do enough.  Perfectionism and drive produces elite athletes.  Google athlete quotes and you will be inundated with statements about working harder than everyone else.  I highly encourage working hard, but perfectionism significantly increases mental health problems.  Britain's "Victoria Pendleton (Britain’s most successful female Olympian), middle-distance runner Kelly Holmes (double gold winner at the Athens Olympics), boxer Frank Bruno (heavyweight champion of the world) and cricketer Marcus Trescothick (hero of the 2005 Ashes)" all suffered from depression.1  Their mental health deteriorated from perfectionism. 

The same phenomenon happens to law students.  They worry about every mistake and whether the semester was enough.  We can continue to help students worrying whether they did enough.

The same phenomenon happens to ASPers as well.  Maybe it was just me, but my mind raced last week at the bar exam.  Did I hold enough programs?  Did I contact students enough?  Did I do as much as I could in a virtual environment?  Did I respond to email quickly enough?  I cheered on students while worrying if I could have prepared them better.

Enough is a terrible standard for all of us.  I want all of us to help both law students and each other overcome the worry of doing "enough."  I tell my students that all I care about is whether they can walk out of the exam and say they did everything they could reasonably do in their circumstances.  Everyone's circumstances are different, and I only want them to do what they reasonably can.  I want to tell all ASPers the same thing during this trying time.  Enough is doing what you reasonably can in your circumstances.  Don't let it reach perfectionism.

 

1 https://www.harleytherapy.co.uk/counselling/depression-in-sport.htm

February 28, 2021 in Encouragement & Inspiration, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Walking Towards Success

Like many of you, this week's been hectic, filled with chats and jam sessions to help graduates finish strong in preparation for next week's bar exam.  

Most look tired, really tired.  Me too.  

So we took a break from consideration and equal protection and secured transactions to talk about steps we might take to provide refreshment to rejuvenate our battle-worn minds.

I don't know what possessed me, but I asked our students if they had time to take a break, a walk, or a little excursion from bar prep.  But before they could answer "no", I answered for them.  Simply put, I blurted out - like an excited utterance - that "you can't afford NOT to take a break!"

Here's why:  

As reporter Betsy Morris explains:

"Spending times in the woods - a practice the Japanese call 'forest bathing' - is strongly linked to lower blood pressure, heart rate, and stress hormones and decreased anxiety, depression and fatigue." Morris, B., "For Better Health, Just Head Outdoors," Wall Street Journal (Feb. 16, 2021).   And, with respect to cognition, as Dr. Gretchen Daily observes based on research at Stanford University, "A 45-minute walk in nature can make a world of difference to mood, creativity, [and] the ability to use your working memory." Id.   

In short, all work and no play is a recipe for disaster not success.  Simply put, it doesn't work.

So, as you meet with bar takers for last moment tune-ups and encouragement, let them know that it's okay to take breaks, to put on a cap and gloves and hit a local park for a wintry walk.  Along the way, they'll be not just feeding their spirits but also strengthening their minds.  Now that's a great way to prepare for success, whether it's on the bar exam or in life.  (Scott Johns).

February 18, 2021 in Advice, Encouragement & Inspiration, Stress & Anxiety, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 1, 2021

Redefining Success

Success is a matter of perspective. For some, success means money, power, and prestige. In truth, money, power, and prestige (and the never-ending pursuit of them) often do not bring lasting fulfillment or personal satisfaction because there is always someone who has more—more money, more power, more prestige.

In the law school context, high grades are considered a precursor for these common measures of success, which can lead some law students to define success in law school solely in terms of grades. As a metric, it is true that grades are important . . . and, as a law student, you should work hard (and smart) on what’s important. But what fulfillment or personal satisfaction do you really gain by framing success solely in terms of grades? Each achievement becomes transactional, with a fleeting moment of satisfaction followed by the swift return of a desire for “more.”

I read an interesting article recently that framed the relentless pursuit of success as people choosing being “special” over being happy. The author notes that, in pursuit of success, we may choose to sacrifice our relationships or even our own well-being. Despite such sacrifice, we do not feel sated . . . fated instead to feeling we are not successful “enough” and chasing the next success high.

As I read the article, I felt attacked thought about my time as a law student and how I defined success. Back then, for me, being successful meant having the highest grades and achieving all the things people told me were indicative of a successful law student (top grades, law review, judicial clerkship, etc.). I also wanted those things for myself but, at the time, I was more focused on why other people said I should have them (and what they would think if I did not). With each achievement came a hunger for the next one, and with each setback came devastating self-doubt and internal criticism. It was not until I was a bit older (and wiser) that I began to rethink how I defined success and prioritize what I needed to feel happy and fulfilled.

To the law students who may be reading this, if you see some part of yourselves in this post, I encourage you to think now about how you define success and to develop metrics for success that are meaningful to you. What kind of person do you want to be? What kind of law student do you want to be? What opportunities in law school align with your goals, needs, and interests? Begin the journey now of releasing yourself from the judgment and expectations of others and focus instead on what you need to feel fulfilled.

To the ASPers who may be reading this, if you see some part of yourselves in this post, I encourage you to revisit the metrics you associate with success on a personal and professional level. How do you define success for yourself? How do you define success for students? How might your definition of success affect the way you interact with students? Consider how redefining your definition(s) of success can increase your personal satisfaction and enhance your relationships with students.

(Victoria McCoy Dunkley)

References:

Arthur C. Brooks, ‘Success Addicts’ Choose Being Special Over Being Happy, The Atlantic (July 30, 2020), https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2020/07/why-success-wont-make-you-happy/614731/.

Sarah Lahlou-Amine, Defining Success in Terms of Satisfaction Starts in Law School, ABA Student Lawyer Blog (Oct. 11, 2019), https://abaforlawstudents.com/2019/10/11/defining-success-in-terms-of-satisfaction-starts-in-law-school/.

February 1, 2021 in Advice, Professionalism, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 18, 2021

Keep Writing

It is that time of year again. Many first-year law students are anxiously awaiting grades from their first semester of law school. To all of you, I say: I hope your first semester grades are everything you want them to be.

Regardless, try to maintain perspective. Each grade is but a snapshot of your performance during a “moment” in time and, sometimes, it can feel as if there is no rhyme or reason to how each of those snapshots develop. Students who studied more may not perform as well as expected. Students who studied less may perform better than expected. The exam you thought was your best performance may end up being your worst grade. Similarly, the exam you thought was your worst performance may end up being your best grade.

Whatever your grades are, your feelings about them are valid. It is okay to feel excited about and celebrate your good grades, but do not rest on your laurels (keep doing the work). It is okay to feel frustrated or disappointed about less-than-ideal grades, but do not get stuck in that frustration or disappointment. Process your feelings and then pivot.

Your grades are not the final word on your abilities or the opportunities you will have. They are also in no way indicative of your value as a person or how great of a lawyer you will become. What matters more than a less-than-ideal grade is what you do in response, and that response can make for a great narrative of grit and resilience that you share with, among others, future employers.

If your grades are not everything you want them to be, get to work changing your reality for the spring term. Connect with your ASP faculty and/or staff to discuss your strengths and identify areas for growth, then develop a plan to expand upon the former and work on the latter. Cultivate a growth mindset. Your abilities and skills are not fixed—you can develop and refine them with practice and by leveraging your feedback. One semester of grades does not define you or dictate your story. YOU are the author of your story. Keep writing.

(Victoria McCoy Dunkley)

References:

Eduardo Briceño and Dawn Young, A Growth Mindset for Law School Success, ABA Student Lawyer Blog (Sept. 12, 2017), https://abaforlawstudents.com/2017/09/12/growth-mindset-law-school-success/.

Heidi K. Brown, Law School Grades Are Not Your Story—You Are Your Story, ABA Student Lawyer Blog (Jan. 9, 2020), https://abaforlawstudents.com/2020/01/09/law-school-grades-are-not-your-story-you-are-your-story/.

January 18, 2021 in Advice, Encouragement & Inspiration, Stress & Anxiety, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Tomorrow is Yesterday

When I was a kid, I saw an episode of the TV series Maude that was broadcast on November 1, 1976 – the day before Election Day.  Maude, the assertive main character, was trying to convince everyone to write in Henry Fonda for President.  When her featherbrained neighbor Vivian asked Maude why she was in such a rush to get the idea out, Maude looked at her severely and explained that the election was happening tomorrow.

“Tomorrow?!” exclaimed Vivian.  “And it seems like only yesterday it was Halloween!”

Well, today, with the results of the October bar exam barely in hand for many examinees, we have leapt right back into preparation for the February exam.  Perhaps the final casualty of the Endless Summer is the strict reduction of time to process the relationship between all that happened before the exam and the results that came out of it.  Individuals who just found out in late December or early January that they did not pass have had to decide very quickly whether to register for the February exam.  A California repeat examinee could still register next week, with as few as 32 days left before the exam is administered.  And while many states and law schools have seen an increase in bar pass rates compared to July of 2019, we have entered the February bar study period without some of the data we might ordinarily use to assess the reasons for any changes in passage rates.  At least here in New York, some of the granular data about subject-matter performance on the MBE portion has not been provided, and information about statewide trends have only been reported in the most general terms.  This makes it harder to determine the effects of the delay, of the changes in format and delivery, and of strategies adopted or resources provided in response.

Tomorrow is February?!  It seems like only yesterday it was October!

Thus, even though the February bar exam represents a great stride towards “normalcy” in many jurisdictions – in that it will be delivered on a traditional set date, with typical full UBE content – this will still be an unusual administration, affected by ripples of the pandemic.  Some repeat examinees will be facing a compressed study period, although I have observed that a least a portion of them, perhaps spurred to greater-than-normal pessimism under the circumstances, began preparing prophylactically even before scores were announced.  In any case, those of us who work with repeating graduates may be asked to provide additional support.

More frustrating to me is having to determine what aspects of the support provided to our examinees over the five months between graduation and the October bar would be most advantageously replicated over the next two months.  The extended prep period was, I felt, grueling for all involved, but it provided time and motivation for examinees and teachers alike to try new strategies.  Based on our results, some of these strategies appear to have beneficial.  But which ones?  And are they replicable between now and the end of February, or were they successful because, and not in spite of, the long stretch of time before the October administration?  Without all the information I wish I had, this feels in some ways similar to what many of us had to do this summer: reacting to a novel situation without certainty, and ending up (very likely) relying in part on intuition and extraordinary effort.

Hopefully, knock on wood, fingers crossed, things won't feel this way come summer 2021.  For now, the one thing I am fairly certain played an important part in my examinees' performance that is likely replicable now was the increased sense of camaraderie and support that they reported as a result of the very high-touch summer and fall.  With so many changes so frequently, and with unbelievable levels of anxiety among bar studiers (who on the whole are not typically known for tranquil, detached attitudes), I initiated what would turn out to be bi-weekly (or more frequent) Zoom meetings to pass along news, share strategies, and provide opportunities for feedback.  Already feeling isolated by the pandemic, the students reported that these meetings helped them feel connected to each other and to the school, and it appears they took more advantage of the resources we made available (including lots of one-on-one meetings with me).  This was kind of a form of intrusive counseling. It seems to have worked, at least under those recent conditions, which in some ways are still ongoing.  So, while I am still hoping to develop more clarity about how other specifics contributed to examinees' performance, this is one lesson I took from yesterday that I can apply today to help my examinees prepare for tomorrow.

[Bill MacDonald]

January 12, 2021 in Advice, Bar Exam Issues, Bar Exam Preparation, Current Affairs, Encouragement & Inspiration, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 7, 2020

Adopting A Modified Vegas Rule During the Exam Period

Law students seeking to avoid unnecessary stress and maximize learning opportunities should consider adopting a modified Vegas rule during the exam period. In the law school exam context, this rule is simple: Take the wisdom, Leave the substance (Take the “W” and Leave the “S”).

Each law school exam provides an opportunity to become a better exam taker. Students experience firsthand the challenges of effectively managing their time, ordering issues, outlining responses, and applying rules to a new set of facts. Do not ignore the wisdom to be gained from each exam experience. Instead, identify the lessons to be learned, and commit to practicing and refining your skills and/or exam-taking strategy as needed before the next exam.

Once you have completed an exam, do not discuss the substance of it with anyone during the exam period. If someone tries to engage you in such a discussion, politely decline. Walk away, leave the chat, step away from the video call. Do not talk substance, do not collect anxiety. Nothing good comes from rehashing the substance of your exam with your peers (and it may run afoul of your law school’s honor code). Almost invariably, someone will have “spotted” an issue that you “missed.” As you sit and listen, second-guessing your answer, anxiety levels rise and confidence levels fall. In reality, that issue you “missed” may not have really been an issue at all. The damage that discussion can do to your confidence and focus, however, is very real. Keep your eyes forward and on the prize.

(Victoria McCoy Dunkley)

December 7, 2020 in Advice, Stress & Anxiety, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Congratulations! Now, Time to Rest.

Congratulations for making it to the end of the semester.  Many law schools adjusted the schedule to finish prior to Thanksgiving, so they finish this week.  Others planned a normal semester and will finish over the next couple weeks.  As you finish, I encourage you to take pride in your accomplishment and rest.  Everyone at the law school needs it.

To the students, you all are amazing.  Second and third-year students completed another semester in unusual circumstances.  The fear of catching coronavirus combined with the social strife would make anything difficult, and you all did it during law school.  I am biased, but I believe law school is one of the most difficult mental journeys possible.  Great perseverance.

First-year students embraced a challenge even they couldn't have predicted.  Combine the uncertainty, demands, and normal first year challenges with the climate, and many wouldn't make it.  You did it.  Great job.

For the faculty.  You all made the best of a difficult situation.  Whether teaching over zoom, in smaller classes, twice the sections to keep sections small, or regular classes with the fear of section wide spreading, you made it work.  Veteran professors turned years of routine into a new experience in a matter of months.  It was a huge undertaking and accomplishment.

Deans and Associate Deans, I can't even imagine.  Constant policy changes by Universities combined with daily changes in community spread within cities made planning anything impossible.  I would have pulled the last remaining hair out in September.  Great job.

Last, but closest to my heart, ASPers.  You rock.  You also made massive changes to classes, while also figuring out how to conduct all your normal individual meetings without risking your health..  You planned voluntary workshops and bar prep to reach everyone even though some of you were locked out of buildings or couldn't use classrooms.  Amazing work.

All of you made it through a difficult semester.  Many of you did it from your living room while homeschooling your kids, or at least making sure they didn't burn down the house, write on too many walls, etc.  Do not discount the effort this semester required.  Everyone, yes everyone, needs a pat on the back and then, rest.  When the semester is over for you, take days (plural) off.  Enjoy something safe you haven't been able to indulge in during the semester.  Rejoice because you made it.  The break will get you ready for next semester.  You deserve it.

(Steven Foster)  

November 22, 2020 in Advice, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Imposter Syndrome

Many of us try to help students with imposter syndrome.  A colleague from CALI (Hat tip to Deb Quentel) passed along an article about imposter syndrome in the classroom.  Check it out here.

(Steven Foster)

November 21, 2020 in Stress & Anxiety, Study Tips - General, Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0)