TEACHER PROFILE: Cambria Floren, Ashland High School
SUBJECTS: Government, Humanities, Economics
EXPERIENCE: Ten years teaching, five at Ashland
Cambria is one of many great examples of someone who channeled an early experience with CLP into a thriving part of her classroom. She participated in Mock Trial while in high school, enjoying the experience of teamwork and competition. Memories of that program inspired her into finding ways to make her classroom as engaging as possible.
In 2014, she met with CLP Executive Director Marilyn Cover to discuss how she could revive the dormant Mock Trial program at Ashland high. The conversation led her into professional development opportunities as well, and she’s benefited from attendace at the Oregon Civics Conference and Summer Institute. Along the way, she’s begun incorporating mock trial into her classroom. As she gets ready to rebuild the Mock Trial team, she’s also looking into incorporating We the People hearings into her teaching. It’s that first experience however, that really motivates her.
IN HER OWN WORDS
I was inspired by Mock Trial when I was a teen. It engaged me and my faculties in a way that nothing else did. I became part of a team, doing high level critical thinking and public speaking about matters of law and justice. It stuck with me all these years, and now I am finally a mock trial coach and incorporate the content into my teaching of Government.
All of my students are engaged by the activity. I stop being their teacher when the simulation starts, and they start being teams with me as their coach. It’s just a different relationship than the regular teacher-student one. I coach them and guide them, but ultimately, the impetus is on them to do the work — applying the law and putting together the best case they can demonstrate. I always bring in community members to judge — usually lawyers, and sometimes even a judge — which ups the stakes even more. Plus, a jury of their peers will render the verdict. There are such a variety of cases, too, that you can delve into whichever merits of the law you want to focus on
All students LOVE Mock Trial. There isn’t a single one who doesn’t come out feeling accomplished and proud of themselves. Even the ones who are reticent, or maybe a little shy, to begin with feel a great sense of “coming into their power” throughout the course of our simulation. I am always speechless with pride. It’s a bonding experience for them with their peers, too. They dress up in suits, and act like adults doing high-level thinking and applications of law in front of others. There has not been one student with an IEP or disability that hasn’t also thrived with their peers in Mock Trial. I really value the authenticity of this experience for my students..
It’s very exciting. This is hands-down my favorite stuff! It makes me want to go on being a teacher each school day!