Legal lecturers would love to contribute more to the expertise development of their learners. So how to help them remedy a lack of workplace performance improvement and enthusiasm with their ex-trainees?
One approach is to send lecturers to a good training to acquire the expertise of legal lecturing.
Lecturers need informed practice
I find that many legal lecturers coming to a workshop lack a basic understanding of what effective teaching involves: What is needed for learning to happen, what is my role as a lecturer in class, what exactly do I want my audience to learn, how do I go about transfering my legal expertise, how should I engage my audience, how do I know what my audience has learned? Basic stuff but for legal lecturers often questions they did not ask themselves before.
So in workshops, we usually start discussing principles underlying effective and engaging lecturing; We explore useful lecturing techniques and we exchange tips & tricks of the trade. However, these activities do not achieve better lecturing as such. Awareness and knowledge do not by themselves lead to great teaching. Lecturers need to apply their new knowledge in the context of real teaching. And they need to be informed what they do well and where they can improve.
That is why lecturers have to actually teach law during our workshops, perform authentic teaching. We have legal lecturers also observe and assess both good and bad lecturing; we ask them to explain the qualitative features that distinguishes good from bad teaching. The vital (and most fun) part is where we let peers observe each other lecturing. Observing oneself lecturing on video can also be revelatory and instructive.
Feedback is like a talking mirror
Like any learner, lecturers need clear guidance and coaching during such teaching. Provided the situation feels save, honest and frank feedback from peers followed by discussion is a powerful way to improve one’s lecturing.
It increases lecturers’ awareness before, during and after training about their strengths, weaknesses and points for improvement. It also increases their motivation to persevere and excel. The lecturer’s self-image gets strengthened. Fun in teaching is discovered.
From pupa to butterfly
It is fascinating, sometimes even moving, to see legal lecturers transform themselves. A boring and/or ineffectual lecturer becomes a sparkling and inspiring learning facilitator who sometimes even receives applause(!) from their learners. The lecturers themselves feel in control because they not only understand principles of effective instruction but they have also proven to themselves that they can select, mix and apply effective techniques under varying circumstances.
In addition, they have learned to assess their own teaching activities and the ways how these activities affect their learners. They can draw conclusions and develop a plan for improvement if necessary. They themselves have bolstered their selfconfidence in lecturing.
External specialised training is one way to help legal lecturers get eager audiences and achieve more impact. Next blog will be on an alternative way to help them succeed.