Faculty Spotlight: Monte Smith

11/02/2018
Monte Smith

What's the most important thing you are working on right now?

The most important thing I am working on right now is the two classes I am teaching. I became a teacher to teach. Whatever else I am doing, my first priority is giving my current students the attention they need to reach the point where we can both say that they are ready for the next thing. In the context of the two Lawyering Process (LP) classes that I am currently teaching, that means preparing them for the next stage of LP, but it also means helping them to adjust to the new kind of learning that law school requires. For some students, the greatest need at this stage of their law school lives is acceptance of the awkwardness and self-doubt that often accompany the first semester of law school. Part of my job is to help students adjust to those feelings, which, for many of them, are unprecedented.

Which of your recent books or articles should I read?

If you are a law professor, you should read Formative Assessments: A Law School Case Study, which I wrote with a group of colleagues at Ohio State. You can find it at 94 U. Det. Mercy L. Rev. 387. The article reports the results of a natural experiment in which some first-year law students voluntarily took a practice midterm exam in Constitutional Law and received individualized feedback. The results should make all of us think critically about some of the norms in law teaching.  

When you are working on an article or a book, what's your favorite part of the process?

My favorite part of the writing process is editing. If I am editing, I must have written something. What a relief! Once I have written something, I can begin the process of making it better. When I was a student, on the other hand, I never edited my work. The first draft was the only draft. So, I guess I have taught at least one person the value of drafts. 

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