Monday, November 7, 2022

Let Them Teach!

How many of you who are or were engaged in the practice of law were asked to help a senior lawyer in your office prepare for or present at a continuing legal education (CLE) program?  How many of you felt well prepared for that experience when it presented itself?  I remember being asked to help script and help present at a number of CLE programs during the era in my practice in which I was still working on figuring things out.  The associated imposter syndrome was real.  I hope to make my students better prepared for that kind of engagement in their law practice.

As many readers know, I teach Corporate Finance as an experiential offering--a limited enrollment three-credit-hour planning and drafting course.  I teach the course in two 75-minute segments each week.  Along the way, I engage students with related practice experiences.  One of them is a CLE-like teaching activity.  Specifically, as the syllabus describes, it is a course requirement (part of each student's class participation grade) that they participate in a "class expert experience."

Class expert experience: Together with a partner, you are required to serve as a class expert as part of a peer-to-peer teaching experience once during the course of the semester. You will have the opportunity to choose a topic from a list of open assignments and a partner for your expert teaching experience. You may sign up on the class website starting the second week of the semester. Do not wait too long to do this.

On your day as a class expert, you and your partner will lead a class discussion on the topic of the reading assignment (plan for 45-60 minutes, since there will be questions and interruptions). I will supply you with substantive guidance on coverage and make myself available to you as you prepare for your in-class expert presentation. The format for your presentation can be anything you want–PowerPoint slides, real-time document analysis (using the document camera or otherwise), poetry readings, a skit, songs, a game–anything you want. If you decide to use PowerPoint slides or other projections, please let me know so that we can coordinate your use of the classroom technology.

Apart from accurate and complete substantive coverage of the assigned material, the only requirements for your expert experience are that you (a) involve the rest of the class in your in-class presentation, (b) illustrate or suggest ways in which transaction participants could use the material you are presenting to draft the operative documents differently to better achieve their objectives, and (c) finish within the allotted time. These four requirements—accurate and complete coverage, audience engagement, drafting suggestions, and time efficiency—can be met in many ways. As an audience-participation component, for example, you may want to ask questions of your classmates or involve them in an exercise, or you could take a poll on an issue relating to the topic. FYI, our TWEN site has polling functions and several other teaching tools. Zoom also has a polling capability, and there are other software applications to which we have access that also may be of interest. Just let me know in advance what you want or envision, and I will try to ensure that you have the resources you need. You may make drafting suggestions orally or in writing or through interaction with the rest of the class. Again, use whatever teaching method or methods you want–just make sure you meet the four requirements.

We try to have some fun along the way, too.  Donuts and Halloween candy/notions become participation incentives, Kahoot! competitions test class learning, and songs (Pink Floyd's Money has made at least one appearance) reinforce points made in memorable ways.  This part of the course has evolved over the years as I have learned from what students do and as the course learning objectives become more refined.  Interestingly, in past course evaluations, students have described this course component as both the most challenging and the most rewarding component of the course.  Sometimes, the same student will describe the experience both ways, citing to the distinctive reward that comes from confronting and responding to a significant challenge.  

I share all this with you today because my last Corporate Finance student class experts present on Wednesday (on the structure and key contents of M&A agreements).  I look forward to it, but I also regret that this part of the course is coming to an end.  As usual, and I have been impressed by what students have done and are doing to both learn and teach (all, in short order).

Joan Heminway, Teaching | Permalink


What a great idea.

Posted by: JONATHAN HAYES | Nov 8, 2022 8:25:34 AM

Thanks, Jonathan. The idea evolved from earlier teaching models that didn't work well for engaging students with the material more deeply and collaboratively. This seems to work well.

Posted by: joanheminway | Nov 8, 2022 10:54:45 AM

I love this and plan to adopt some of these ideas next semester. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by: Marcia Narine Weldon | Nov 18, 2022 10:00:07 PM

Marcia, let me know if I can help in any way. Thanks for commenting!

Posted by: joanheminway | Nov 19, 2022 6:55:00 AM

Post a comment