Your course sounds amazing for the law students teaching it and for the students taking it. Other than Street Law courses offered by some schools, it seems unusual to have courses where law students teach other students. Since your course has been around for a while, has it been used as a model for other courses at BC or at other schools where law students teach environmental law or other subjects?
Kyle. It's only now that I am on a glidepath to retirement that I have been thinking that I should push other schools to consider thinking about instituting the teaching program. Joseph, James, and I are happy to talk about how to do that, and pass on a lot of useful documentary information on program structure. I am hoping that the idea will spread. Best. ZBP
I can see why you would say that the experience that your student teachers get is valuable regardless of whether they practice environmental law or not. Nevertheless, have there been any/many of your students that went on to become teachers - whether environmental law teachers or other teachers?
Since students can be picked to teach in the course even if they haven't ever taught before, is there formal training in teaching that is part of the course? I would imagine that the weekly seminar classes in the spring provide an opportunity for the students to discuss what is and isn't working for them, but is there any other more formal training? Do the student teachers focus on learning about teaching in the fall or winter pre-sessions, or are those classes focusing on the substantive material that will be taught to the undergraduates in the spring?
Thanks again for a very interesting talk, Kayla Turner and Sarah Sanchez
Abbie - The most challenging--by far--was Chevron. The challenge was twofold: 1) the case itself is a little technical in its facts, and the facts don't exactly tell a compelling story; 2) it isn't clear to the students why the the concept of deference proves so powerful. The second point is particularly relevant for a group of students who came of political age during the Trump administration, where the idea of deference for agency action may have a different political valence. Our students had the fascinating knee-jerk reaction that deference to EPA would harm the environment. An interesting discussion!
Kayla & Sarah - There is definitely some teaching training before the spring. During the fall semester, we work to develop our syllabuses as well as our teaching methodologies. We learned about different teaching philosophies, styles of learning, and different teaching practices. Zyg brought in a teaching consultant from the teaching center at BC who spoke to us about best practices. We delivered practice lectures to the group and critiqued performances. Many of the teachers had been teachers in pre-law lives and they brought valuable experience to the seminar as well.
In the video you mentioned being able to tell when students were engaging with the material. You also mentioned a variety of outcomes as to whether students left the course with a greater or diminished interest in law and the environment. Are there easy ways to get laypeople interested initially in environmental law matters or is it largely individual as to whether people will be engaged with such issues?
Are there several substantive environmental law courses that student professors need to take as pre-requisites before they can teach in the program? And, as one of the students pointed out, writing exams and assignments must be very difficult the first time through. Does the legacy document that you discussed include any model assignments that were used by other teachers in the past or exam banks? I would guess that a multiple choice exam bank would be particularly useful. All in all, this sounds like a great experience for the student professors.