Spring 2020: A Look Back With Relief

The end of spring classes is now several weeks in the past. By this time the train has moved on and we are in the midst of another round of tasks that will eat up the summer: I (foolishly) promised online workshops on online Team-Based Learning and discussion boards; I have two week-long institutes on faculty portfolios to facilitate; I will support faculty who are applying for state-wide awards; and I’ll have to prepare this year’s new faculty orientation program, which probably will be online in some shape or form. And on top of this I’ve been pulled in to help a colleague with little tech preparation to run an online four-week course, adding 1-2 hours to five days of the week until the middle of June. And I should probably prepare a report on the assessment data that I collected last year about our New Faculty Academy. Good thing that I cannot leave the house!

So, how did the spring semester end? Not with a bang but with a whimper! (Funny how good poetry can devolve into cliché, eh?) I noticed that I was slo-mo crashing during the last two weeks of classes or so. Nothing dramatic, but working felt more and more like wading through some kind of jelly; you could do it, but it was more effort than usual. I was badly, badly behind with grading, and the class became less interactive than I wish it had been. In addition, the end of the semester provided an added need for educational development programs, so I helped write a CFI Teaching Toolbox about final exams and participated in open office hours and consults on that topic. At least I managed to record a few lectures on different approaches to interpreting the Constitution. These will be useful for future classes, even for flipping in-person classes. (And I just saw that the first video got 18 views, which means that 11 students out of 29 did not watch it—that’s a fairly typical “attendance” rate for the last week of classes. Sad in principle, but not too bad for this emergency!)

Looking back at the semester, here are some things that I’ve observed, some surprising, some not so:

Continue reading Spring 2020: A Look Back With Relief

POSC 386 Message for April 27

Here is today’s video message:

And here is the script, and here is the sound-only version. Enjoy!

One important announcement: Join me on Monday at 2:30 for an online conversation with a state judge from Pennsylvania. This will give us an opportunity to get a first-hand account of things like judicial selection and judicial work (including in the times of COVID-19) in the states. Or at least in one state. Check our Canvas modules for the Video conferencing link.

I also provide a quick summary of our discussion of judicial appointment mechanisms. Is the federal appointment system that different from a merit system? You will find out!

POSC 386: April 8, 2020

Here is today’s message:

(I hope you all appreciate the checkered shirt and red-and-blue bow tie.) Here is the script, and here is the audio-only version.

If you’re in POSC 386, check out the video lectures that you and your fellow students have created. They’re amazing! Leave questions and comments!

Stuff to do until the week is over:

  • Watch my series of eight short lectures on the Court’s decision whether or not to grant a writ of certiorari (about 28 minutes total)
  • Participate in a debate about a current case and whether the Supreme Court should grant cert.
  • Leave questions and comments.
  • Work on your second exam essay(s).

As usual, everything can be found in the Canvas modules. Have fun, be well, and stay in touch!

POSC 386, Monday, April 6

Here is today’s video message for my class:

Here is the sound-only version, and here is the script.

In brief, I am impressed by the video lectures that were created by the class. I hope that everybody had fun creating the videos and has fun watching them.

This week, I offer a synchronous online class meeting where we can discuss questions and comments about the Supreme Court process. Students who for various reasons cannot join the synchronous session or prefer asynchronous work, can alternatively leave a comment or question in the videos on Canvas.

I am producing and posting a series of video lectures on the writ of certiorari and the question of what leads the Supreme Court to grant or deny cert. Watching these videos will be followed by an online debate about a current case in the US appeals court: The case of the former mayor of Allentown, PA, who is incarcerated for corruption and has asked to be released because he fears to be exposed to the Corona virus. The debate question will be whether the Supreme Court should grant a writ of certiorari in that case, should Pawlowski (the former mayor) petition for it. Here is a bit more background on why this case may have some broader significance.

Stay safe!