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Your first lesson

Hello to you reading this, my name is Michéal and I am a final year law student at Letterkenny Institute of Technology and I am going to reflect back on a specific experience I had when participating in the Street Law programme at Mulroy College, Milford. There is no doubt that Street Law is a great opportunity to engage with an audience that has no idea what to expect, neither did I with unusual teaching methods that I had never experience before! Engagement and communication is pivotal whenever conducting a street law lesson and being able to get the attention of the students was challenging at first but with the skills and techniques that we developed it would change how a normal teacher would get the attention of a student. Instead of roaring the throat of yourself till it went dry like how you would have had seen teachers react at school, simply clapping your hands loudly would be enough to grasp their attention. Engagement with the students involved them doing the work instead of the traditional means of a teacher  doing all the talk, this was carried out by means of getting students by random order by asking them with que cards questions which related to the individual to come up to the board and write on it.

A particular lesson that I am going to discuss which I enjoyed and one that would be of great interest to you if you are going to do Street Law was our first lesson on Legal or Illegal? and Assault in Sports. We decided on this topic because generally everybody has a favourite sport. When walking into the classroom for the first time I felt nervous as anybody would on their first time in front of thirty five students, little did me and my fellow teacher know that we would have a strong connection with the group.

To begin the lesson I explained who we were, where we study, what we study and what we were planning on doing with them in lesson one. From here we passed out the que cards for future reference when asking students questions which was very handy. They were also given random colour sheets to divide them into groups to split them up from their friends.

Our motivating activity involved ‘what was important to the lives of teenagers’ whilst I walked around the groups asking them did they understand the activity and that they had to come up with 5 different things. This was then split into 25 different things with one member of each group stating aloud what they had chosen. It was then up to a class vote to decide on what should be outlawed. Some students had a problem with what was outlawed but I explained to them that this is how the law works may it be through a constitutional vote or political vote.

For our first core activity we handed the students four different types of scenarios relating to their teenage lives and asking them whether or not they thought the scenario was illegal or legal, expect students to give sarcastic responses to certain scenarios involving alcohol or marijuana.

We began the second half of our lesson with an Icebreaker which was quite gloomy and didn’t live up to its expectations mimicking an ‘Icebreaker’ by writing on the board large Eskimo, Iceberg and a hammer and asking them what it was.

This would lead us onto our core activity with the students being very much interested in as a large majority of the class participated in different types of sports. We asked them what they thought assault was before dipping into the lesson the legally defining it as ‘unwanted physical conduct’. They then read scenarios such as in Boxing, MMA, Gaelic Football and Soccer. We then finished the lesson with a ‘what, how and why’ reflection, then thanked the class for their participation. I thoroughly enjoyed it and felt that for our first lesson that it went significantly well considering that the class size is 35 students, confidence is key and preparation is everything in Street Law!

LYIT Street Law. Photo Clive Wasson.