“Fresh from practice, clerking, or sometimes even law school itself, the newly-appointed law professor is injected into the classroom with the incredible assumption that he or she will know what to do in front of a class and, therefore, needs no guidance in the art of teaching.” Without formal guidance, new law professors often adopt the only approach to legal teaching they know–the same Socratic method employed when they were students.
This short piece includes an account of freshman mistakes, lucky breaks, and the beginnings of a teaching philosophy. It includes resources to guide a new professor’s decisions in choosing a textbook, developing a teaching philosophy, providing student feedback, and self evaluation. Part II, “the first day,” suggests some rather obvious and immediate objectives for a new professor’s first day of class – like, don’t forget to wear pants. Part III, “the first semester,” focuses on lessons learned the hard way and Part IV, “the first year,” identifies a few strategies for improvement given the struggles inherent in the first year.