Discussing Imposter Syndrome

By: Professor Amanda Peters (South Texas College of Law Houston)Grayscale Photo of Human Hand

Like most of my law professor colleagues, teaching online is new to me. One of the many options unique to virtual teaching is the discussion board, which has been touted as a tool to keep students engaged. While I was unsure how my online class discussions would go, I was especially pleased with the discussion board responses I recently received on the topic of imposter syndrome, which involves the belief that you do not deserve to be where you are, that you do not belong.

At the online LWI Conference this summer, one of the presenters mentioned a TED Ed talk on imposter syndrome. I heard about this syndrome for the first time on NPR many  years ago. Although I had never put a name with it before,  I immediately recognized it from my own experiences, and I knew how harmful it could be.

I remember feeling uneasy about my abilities as I began law school. Two women in my 1L study group were ranked 2nd and 4th in the class after the first semester. I remember wondering whether my good grades were a product of studying with them or whether I alone was capable of earning those grades. I questioned whether I really belonged on Law Review.

When I became a lawyer, I doubted I was talented enough to work among the best litigators in Houston or whether I was smart enough to move from litigation to appellate work. As a new law professor, I remember feeling insecure that my office neighbors went to Harvard when the diplomas that hung on my wall came from Texas Tech. In each of these situations, I would eventually come to realize that I had earned my place, but that realization took time. Continue reading “Discussing Imposter Syndrome”

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My Virtual Conversion

By: Abigail Perdue (Wake Forest)

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If you had asked me last August whether I would like to teach my fall Appellate Advocacy course fully online, I would have said, without hesitation, “Hard pass.” Jaded by my own scant experience with online education (primarily in the form of mind-numbing CLEs), which had always been vastly inferior to face-to-face learning, I had honestly never given distance learning a second thought. Although I rarely speak in absolutes, I was wholeheartedly convinced that online teaching could never be as effective or rewarding as an in-person experience. And then COVID happened.

Bracing ourselves for the great unknown, educators across America immediately took drastic, emergency measures to minimize COVID-related course interruption, hurriedly transitioning our classes online. Most of us entered this new frontier without the benefit of formal training, preparation, equipment, or intention like astronauts sent to the moon without spacesuits. And although I did my best under the extenuating, unforeseeable circumstances, I found myself eager and anxious to “get back to normal” this fall.

And then COVID continued. Looking back, I realize that I, like so many others, was probably working through the stages of grief in a way. Armed with the flexibility and power of a growth mindset (thank you Dr. Dweck!), over the weeks that followed, I moved from denial that COVID would prevent face-to-face teaching in the fall all the way to acceptance of the “new normal” (that I needed to plan a virtual course).

Over the summer, my law school, like many others, provided countless workshops on virtual teaching and launched small learning communities about best practices in online education. I participated in a fabulous conference about remote teaching held by William & Mary. On my own initiative, I underwent other training as well. Applying the principles of positive psychology, I framed each training as an opportunity to learn something new, to innovate, and to reexamine longstanding notions about how and what I should be teaching.

Then something remarkable happened. Continue reading “My Virtual Conversion”

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Let’s Listen to the Quiet Ones: How Quiet Students Thrive in Remote Learning

By: Professor Heidi K. Brown (Brooklyn Law School)

A new book for introverted shy and socially anxious lawyers

Midway through pandemic lockdown in New York City, my television was tuned to CNN one Saturday morning while I exercised in my kitchen. My ears perked up at hearing an elementary school principal in Washington, D.C.—Dr. Sundai Riggins—relay in an interview how students who were not talkative in in-person classes were expressing themselves more frequently in distance learning. I thought, Wow, I wish every educator (and politician) could hear that message!

 When the law school where I teach switched to “emergency remote learning” in March, I too noticed students who rarely raised their hand in our live classroom quickly embracing online communication tools such as the “hand-raise” and “chat” features in Zoom. These electronic functions enable quiet students to signal a desire to contribute without having to interrupt their more voluble classmates or teacher to be heard. (Introverts resist interruption—to themselves and others.) This got me thinking, Are other educators across the country noticing an uptick in participation by quiet students during the pandemic? Continue reading “Let’s Listen to the Quiet Ones: How Quiet Students Thrive in Remote Learning”

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