Saturday, May 16, 2015

Teaching Methods of Transformative Teachers

Transformative teachers work to ensure that students from all backgrounds succeed in law school. A recent article offers an empirical study of what students and transformative teachers do well. Sean Darling-Hammond & Kristen Holmquist, Creating Wise Classrooms to Empower Diverse Law Students: Lessons in Pedagogy from Transformative Law Professors, 25 Berkeley La Raza Law Journal 1 (2015).

   Here are ten core themes that transformative teachers identify as keys to successful teaching.

 1. Use E&E. Approach teaching with a sense of Empathy and Enthusiasm. Aim to understand the student experience, and inspire passion.

2. Communicate high expectations while creating safe classroom environments.

3. Provide context for comprehension. Assume intelligence of every student, but never assume prior experience or legal skills.

4. Give the material structure to make it stick. Structure the semester around a narrative arc or web of related themes or techniques and be transparent about how concepts fit together.

5. Get feedback. Use tools like clickers, breakouts, office hours, and mid-semester evaluations to understand and adapt to your students’ progress and needs.

6. Give feedback. Provide assessment opportunities throughout the semester to help students learn and self-correct.

7. Get practical. Provide opportunities for students to learn practical and academic skills by assigning and reviewing briefs and motions and by reviewing practice exams in class and outlines during office hours.

8. Use the Socratic method to teach, not intimidate. Create an environment where compassionate cold calling is the norm.

9. Modernize. Transcend classical cases and embrace discussions about the modern political and social phenomena that attracted many students to law school.

10. Learn from fellow professors as much as possible.

 The article offers considerably more information. You can access it here.


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