Search the Lounge


« When Should A Law School Accept Applicants With Criminal Records? | Main | Matthiessen LGBT Chair at Harvard »

June 03, 2009


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Think about seeking external and/or university funding for research projects. That type of outside validation of your work adds credibility to your research agenda, makes you an expert, brings resources to the school, and helps to better define each research project. In other fields of the humanities and social sciences, this is normal, but not yet in law.

Tim Zinnecker

Great post!

Another suggestion: give some thought to what your classroom rules and expectations will be, put them in writing, distribute them as a first-day handout, and then abide by them (and if you decide to change, do so the next semester, not in mid-semester). Let this serve as a contract between you and your students. Matters that deserve your consideration include the following:

1. Recitation: random, assigned, panels, volunteers, etc.?
2. Attendance: taken, not taken? (If you don't take attendance, don't be surprised if at least one student decides to learn the material without your assistance. Do you care? Does your school policy dictate that you care?)
3. Exam format: essay, multiple choice, short-answer, drafting, combo? Closed book, open book, anything goes, no outside commercial outlines, etc.?
4. Office hours: appointment only, drop-ins welcome? Telephone conferences? Email chats?
5. Grade adjustments: none (final grade based solely on exam performance), adjustments based on in-class performance and/or attendance, etc.?

Also -- and this is challenging the first time you teach a course -- offer the students a [somewhat] detailed daily assignment schedule (something more than "stay twenty pages ahead of me"). You probably can't distribute an exhaustive schedule on the first day of class for the entire semester, but you probably can do so in two-week blocks.

Tim Zinnecker


Well put, Nancy. But I'd make your caution on teaching a bit stronger: as hard as it will be to do, given the paying faces you will see staring at you, minimize teaching prep as much as you possibly can feel comfortable doing. Teaching is just not an important part of your job in terms of what you will be evaluated on. Your teaching should be ok, but it need not be any better. So self0-consciously aim to be an average teacher and a stellar scholar. There will be plenty of time to work on the classes later.


Thanks, all y'all, for your comments! Vladimir, I think that some schools are less focused on teaching than others, and there's something really rewarding about making those connections with students, even in the first year. I'm friends w/several former students, and I even IM'd with a former student last night. (Hey, beats grading!)

The fact is that there's only a limited amount of time, and EVERYTHING takes longer for a newbie academic, just as everything takes longer for a newbie lawyer. As with any other environment, find out what's valued, and focus on that first. PRIORITIZE. And don't forget to save a little time for yourself.


BTW, one of my buddies (Seymour) has this suggestion:
Even after 50+ years out of [his school] - advise the newcomers NOT TO TALK DOWN TO THEIR STUDENTS even when called upon and they are unprepared - treat them as equal human beings.
I still remember (after 50+ years) 2 of my professors [names snipped] who "talked down" to 1st year students. (I doubt if I remember all the names of my other professors.)

I agree. At some point, if you're too aggressive, students stop listening and therefore stop learning.

Jacqui L.

This is a great post and discussion, Nancy. There's not much I can add. One thing that follows from Seymour's point that's easy to say but hard to do when you're new is try to feel comfortable in your own skin. If colleagues and students see that you're nervous and anxious they can play on that (either consciously or more like unconsciously) and then you end up just feeling worse about teaching and scholarship. So I say, just be yourself. If you don't know the answer to a question, say that you don't know and that you'll get back to the student when you do - or better yet, invite the student to find the answer for you and share it with the rest of the class. If your colleague has raised something about your teaching or scholarship that has floored you, thank him/her for the interesting advice/suggestion and say that you'll think on it. And then ask others for their opinions. But don't get fazed or ruffled. Just be yourself, enjoy your time in this crazy profession and make sure you find at least one "blocker"/mentor/whatever who you trust to help you out. [And senior folks - it's our JOB to do this so let's give the newbies a break when they ask for help. I'm sure most of us do that anyway, but it's worth remembering as the new folks walk in the door that it's harder for them to figure out the rules of the game than it is for us to play the game.]


Different fields of life take a lot of time and money, thus why should we waste time for expository essay accomplishing? That is greater to use some experienced custom writing service to order the academic essay from, I guess.

The comments to this entry are closed.


  • StatCounter
Blog powered by Typepad