When Sonia Masih, a secondary school history and geography teacher, was asked to begin teaching the first law class offered at her school, she was somewhat apprehensive. With no background in law and no colleagues at the school she could turn to for help, she had to start from scratch to devise a teaching strategy. The first year was extremely challenging, but going into her second year she discovered the OJEN/ROEJ website and it’s over 200 teaching resources.
“OJEN resources were a lifesaver,” Sonia recalls. “If you don’t have any background in the subject you have to teach academically. You just follow a text book. The day to day interactions of law are hard to teach. Bringing legal concepts to life is a challenge. OJEN resources help to bring a human element to legal processes.”
In her third year, Sonia introduced mock trials to her class and they were an instant hit with her students. As an additional incentive, she rewarded the groups with the highest marks with an opportunity to perform their mock trial in front of the whole school. This mock trial demonstration became a school tradition and it didn’t take long for enrolment in law to grow to the point where a second and third class were added.
It was, however, the participation of a Crown lawyer volunteering to prepare her students for a mock trial that took law classes from being fun to life changing.
“The students were in awe,” Sonia said. “Many of them didn’t know the difference between defence and Crown counsel at the time. When she started describing what her role was, about the discretion of the Crown and the burden of proof, they were fascinated.”
It turned out that the students weren’t the only ones inspired. She credits this Crown with her own decision to leave teaching and enrol in law school. She started studying for her L-SATS while teaching full time and coaching for mock trials.
Many of Sonia’s students plan to study law. Now she can report to them what law school is like.
I met Sonia during an internship she did with OJEN/ROEJ from the University of Ottawa Law School. Her projects with us included developing teaching resources for high school law teachers, something she knew a little about!
“I kind of miss teaching,” she admitted, but I could tell she loved the new path she had embarked on.
Nadine Demoe – Communications Manager