Teaching is an exercise in adaptation and clinical legal teaching is no exception. Clinical teachers develop effective approaches through instinct, training, pedagogy, skill, and trial and error. Building on the trials, errors, and instincts of clinical teachers, this article offers a more intentional approach: "adaptive clinical teaching" (ACT). ACT is a structured method of guided analysis and reflection that applies to any clinical teaching situation, allowing a clinician to make her teaching choices based on as much knowledge and with as much intentionality as possible. ACT provides clinicians with an approach for new issues as they arise and builds a base of knowledge so that each clinical choice is not experienced anew. This article offers clinicians – and ultimately all legal educators – a systematic framework to apply ACT to their own teaching and an example of the application of ACT to demonstrate how the method encourages replacing instinct with deliberate strategies for teaching and supervising. It is the authors' hope that clinical teachers will use the ACT model to create collections of knowledge for themselves and their colleagues, to challenge and broaden their teaching instincts, and to maximize learning for clinic students. These insights and the collected knowledge that results can also translate to legal education more broadly.
Colleen F. Shanahan & Emily A. Benfer,
Adaptive Clinical Teaching,
Clinical L. Rev.
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