I attended my first Rusticatio (SALVI‘s Latin immersion summer program) in 2009. While there, I met a number of fascinating speakers and teachers of Latin. Not everyone was a teacher; a member of one of my groups was a businessman who loved Latin and wanted to know it better. My eyes were opened to a new world. This experience encouraged me to rethink many aspects of my own learning and especially of my teaching. Since then, I have attended an immersive trip to Rome (Iter Romanum) with members of SALVI, a number of pedagogical workshops run by SALVI, another Rusticatio, a Biduum (weekend-long immersion), many conferences (NTPRS, CAM, ACL, ACTFL), and events intended to combine Latin immersion with social and academic goals. I also invited Justin Slocum Bailey (Indwelling Language) to talk to the World Languages Department at Dana Hall. Additionally, I have spent countless hours thinking about how I can bring the techniques from which I myself have benefitted to my own classroom and just as many hours trying them out in the classroom. I have debated the plusses and deltas (areas that would benefit from some change) with department members, interested colleagues and friends, and family.
I am one of those teachers who changes her curricula from year to year. I do this because I have new ideas and I know that the definition of insanity is repeating something you know doesn’t work. Perhaps I have entered a world of insanity, because I never feel completely successful at deposing techniques that don’t reach my goals and whole-heartedly adding on the ones I admire. I read posts on listservs from other teachers who have similar struggles, and I always feel better. What I have found most helpful, though, is observing teachers either doing it successfully or making errors and going through the same revision process I do but with different outcomes. With all of this in mind, I set out to achieve these goals:
- Observe Latin teachers using either CI (Comprehensible Input) theory, TPRS (Total Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling), active Latin, or similarly focused methodology.
- Write up results from my observations.
- Discuss the results with those teachers and anyone else interested.
- Read the existing outstanding blogs on these topics.
- Travel widely where Latin was once the spoken language.
- Lose my hold on techniques that no longer work but are just comfortable.
- Read and speak Latin.
- Appreciate the inspiration and energy that comes from doing something different.
I am and will be forever grateful to Dana Hall and the Congdon Sabbatical Committee for making this possible. I am also indebted to the teachers who have agreed to have me observe. Their names will appear as they approve my posting.