Hanging Out A Shingle in the High School Hallway

By Nick McDaniels — It’s great to start my school year out with a good happy blog post.

I’m having a great year so far and while, contrary to the post’s title, I haven’t exactly started my own private boutique law firm, nor my own business at all for that matter, I did make the switch from teaching English as my primary subject matter to teaching Law.

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I finally amassed enough law credits in 4 years (if I finish my JD it might turn out to be the best seven years of my life) to make a push for teaching law at my school. I was fortunate to be given the opportunity and here I am, teaching Criminal Law to sophomores and Constitutional Law to seniors. What fun! I’m doing what I set out to do when I enrolled in law school as a night student initially four years ago, bring the study of the law to high schoolers, to take what is abstract and often hurtful to students in my community and give them the chance to use it for empowerment. What fun!

I have a wonderfully engaged group of sophomores who present me daily with incredible hypothetical situations that we try to answer as a group and a bright group of seniors, who, when I provoke them, can have an amazing debate.

Here’s the best part though, no standardized test scores to chase. If a legally exciting story comes into the news (think O.J. or Casey Anthony, or George Zimmerman), I can seize the moment, show my students law in action, have them argue the case. We can talk about real life and the only goal is making sure the students have a firmer, more useful grasp of the powers at play in the world around them. This is what I set out to do in my career to begin with, and now, even in spite of the restrictive nature of the COMMON core, I am doing it. I’m teaching for social justice again and it feels great.

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