Academic journal article South Dakota Law Review

Providing a Dynamic Classroom Experience

Academic journal article South Dakota Law Review

Providing a Dynamic Classroom Experience

Article excerpt

I.  INTRODUCTION II.  KEY INGREDIENTS FOR A "DYNAMIC CLASSROOM EXPERIENCE"      A. Recognize and Deal with Impediments to Learning         1. The Impediment of Prior Knowledge and Ego         2. Enlightenment on Non-Relevant Legal Matters      B. Historical Context      C. Timing      D. Coping with Personalities and Efforts to Derail the Lesson Plan      E. Striving to Create a New and Special Classroom Experience      F. Maintaining the Goal of a Dynamic Classroom Experience as a         Priority      G. Maximizing Productive Time in the Classroom      H. Quality, not Quantity      I. Teaching is Always and Forever      J. The Introductory Segue is a Tremendous Tool      K. Brief Review of Material, Setting the Context         for Day's Lesson Plan      L. Highlight Language on Documents Displayed on Screen      M. Maintain Focus on Students who "Are Present" III. PERIPHERAL ASPECTS FOR A DYNAMIC      CLASSROOM PRESENTATION      A. Pre-Class Videos      B. Not So Quick with Announcements of Class Cancellations      C. New Teachers Should Not Seek to Model Their Best Teachers      D. Observe Other Professors      E. Referencing the Court      F. The Early Class      G. A Quick Pick-Me-Up      H. Diminish Stress Elsewhere by Focusing on the         Dynamic Classroom Experience You Seek to Create      I. Student Agendas      J. Discriminatory Aspect      K. Fountain of Youth      L. Learning More About Students      M. Stockholm Syndrome      N. Filling the Class Time      O. Student Disappointment with End of Class  IV. OTHER RELEVANT OBSERVATIONS      A. Beware the Summer Intern Bearing Questions      B. Learning from Mistakes--Mistakes by You and by Others      C. Real Goal May Not Be What is Perceived V.   RETIREMENT SONG 

I. INTRODUCTION

Having completed thirty years of full-time teaching as a law professor, I realize that my view of teaching has significantly evolved. Ironically, I found that with each passing year 1 was investing more, not less, time into class preparations.

Teaching law--as opposed to other disciplines such as history, math, science, etc.--requires ongoing efforts to keep up with new developments. The law is always subject to change. A competent teacher is, of course, expected to incorporate new developments into lesson plans. Some areas of the law are more dynamic than others in terms of new developments. My assigned areas-- Civil Procedure, Insurance, and Family Law--tend to be areas where significant changes occur on a regular basis. Simply keeping up with and incorporating the new developments accounts for a portion of the increased time needed for my class preparation. But this factor was minimal compared to the overall additional time that I was devoting.

A senior faculty member shared with me, decades ago, the concept that "a teacher is only as good as his last class." (1) I found his observation annoying, but accurate. I knew when I had taught a "good class," and I also knew when I had taught a class that fell short. The goal of teaching a good class was a personal objective, not an institutional one. I wanted to provide a "dynamic classroom experience" in each and every class I taught.

Providing a "dynamic classroom experience" has its challenges, which can be overwhelming in nature. The law school classroom consists of students who are above-average intelligence and not hesitant to challenge a professor. The challenge is exacerbated by other factors as well. Not all students come to class fully prepared with a "ready to learn" frame of mind. Students have varied backgrounds in education and in life experiences. There are also certain "personalities" that come to the forefront in the classroom setting. Additionally, students typically have access to extensive notes and other written materials from prior classes taught by the professor. How does one provide a "dynamic" classroom experience to such a diverse set of students and interests?

My intention with this article is to put forward those ingredients that I believe enhanced my ability to provide a dynamic classroom experience. …

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