Wednesday, September 26, 2018

3 First-Year Latin Teachers Tell Their Stories: Meet C.

C.'s bulletin board featuring the B-C calendar,
Latin postcards, and more!

(For an introduction to this blog series, see our first post.)

Meet C., a first-year Latin and English teacher at a suburban public high school in the western region of the United States. Students at this school come from varied socioeconomic backgrounds. C.’s course load includes two sections of Latin 1, one section of Latin 2, one section of AP Latin, and two sections of English 10. C. has explained some of his strategies and goals for the year, as described below.

Classroom setup: C. has his own classroom and has approached setting it up according to the principle that nothing should be “decorated for the sake of being decorated.” To facilitate learning, he is posting a word wall of Latin I’s nova vocabula and is also using signs to remind students of key question words and useful phrases. C. further notes that he has hung up the B-C Roman calendar, scilicet.

Goals: C. has three major goals for his first year:
1. Create units and learning materials that he can use long term.
2. Increase his program’s visibility and grow his enrollment.
3. Expose his students to spoken Latin and language acquisition strategies.

Methodologies and Approaches to Teaching: C. is trying to provide balance in his class activities, hoping to devote just as much time to comprehensible input (CI) and spoken Latin strategies in a day as he does grammar-focused instruction. Due to his A/B block schedule with 75-minute class periods on alternating days, he can provide a real variety of activities in a single class session.

Tips and Tricks: Here’s how C. describes one of the favorite classroom activities he learned as a student teacher:

Teach your students Latin words for classroom objects and verbs in the imperative, then tell them that you are a robot that only understands commands given in Latin. Students must command you around the room to do things like walk to the door, pick up the book, stand up, sit down, etc. When students see what power they have, shenanigans ensue, and they forget they're using Latin because they're loving the activity so much. The next day, divide them into teams to command their team's robot to accomplish a task before their opponents'.

Most Looking Forward To: C. is most looking forward to his spring Latin Fair field trip. The Latin Fair will give his students the opportunity to interact with other Latin students across his region; his students will present Latin videos at the event and will participate in certamen tournaments.

First Day Hook: To hook students on the first day of Latin, C. played a ball game with students in which they threw a ball to one another while introducing themselves using nomen mihi/tibi/ei est.

C. has been teaching at his new school for several weeks and feels that so far, he has been pretty successful at working toward his goals. He summarizes his teaching philosophy as follows:

C.'s word wall, with nova vocabula and a
continuum of how to say yes and no.
What I really want for my students is for them to leave my class every day forgetting that they were in a high school class. Students spend hours and hours sitting in desks, facing a screen, or listening to a lecturer. This behavior would drive any adult mad. No wonder cell phones and other distractors in classrooms are becoming an epidemic! Kids are craving novelty, excitement, humor, movement, and genuine deep learning. This is what I hope to give them every day.

C. clearly hopes to help his students learn and grow as individuals. Here’s to a great year, C.!

—Amelia Wallace, Editor