Monthly Archives: November 2013

Gratiae dandae

As an educator, I am thankful for…

  • Students, without whom my job would be meaningless. To witness the thought process of students hard at work is the most edifying thing in the world. From those who “get it” right away to those who challenge me to reimagine concepts for their sake, every student who yearns for knowledge makes me confident in the future. Students never fail to amaze me with their creativity, their point of view, and their resourcefulness. I have learned so much from them. A student’s drive and gumption can reinvigorate in me a sense of purpose and leave me speechless about abilities I never possessed as a student.
  • Colleagues, who give me new ideas and a support system. Though being a Latin teacher often feels like living in a bubble, both my modern language counterparts and teachers in subjects as diverse as art, science, English, and math (only to name a few) bring new instructional strategies, different points of view, pushback, conversations, and commiserations. To the degree that the faculty care about their charges, they also care about each other; the support system that comes of that helps to temper the dark days and to bring the bright ones to an unmitigated level.
  • Passion, with which teachers and students form close bonds. I LOVE Latin. I love it to such a degree that it becomes infectious and rubs off on my students. It is the reason my classes feel like families, why kids take Latin for 4 years in a row and cite examples of Latinitas in their daily lives. It bridges subjects, makes the seemingly mundane relevant, and creates cohesion amongst once-strangers. It reminds me of why I love my job, and why any other would be woefully inadequate.
  • Innovation, which allows me to do my job more efficiently, with more reach, and at a deeper level. It comes in several forms, from new approaches to second language acquisition (such as the “live it to learn it” approach of Operation Lapis) to a bevy of technology tools. Though it seems like technology can be a Hydra with more tools popping up than can be competently utilized, the result of these innovations is that students can communicate and collaborate in ways never before possible. Students can share information in Google, talk with others on Skype, write letters on ePals, practice and contribute to communal study resources on Quizlet, and much much more. We live in a truly transformative age.
  • Perspective, without which my idealism (and cynicism!) would go untethered. I am lucky to be passionate about a subject that affords me a long and trustworthy view of what has been so that I can see where we are going. It helps me to take with a grain of salt the rain of alphabet soup acronyms, mandates, and policies that may or may not contribute to students’ learning. It helps me to distinguish between innovation that is real and valuable, as I mentioned above, versus outdated or less relevant tools repackaged to fit in with the current technological zeitgeist. The wisdom of the ancients is not only noteworthy, but necessary in a time when so many options exist but there is no clear path.

It is easy for me (and many others, I’d wager) to take a negative view of many of the goings-on in education today. But I wanted to take a moment as Thanksgiving approaches to reflect on what I am grateful for. On the whole, our profession is one with many challenges, but these only make the successes all the more poignant. I hope you take a moment to reflect on your own teaching and learning as well. Thank you.

Announcements for the week of November 24

All sorts of CANE deadlines are right around the corner!
December 1st –

  • applications for the Barker Scholarship
  • the winter quarterly CANE Discretionary Funds application deadline
  • the Means Scholarship application
  • deadline to submit papers for the Annual Meeting

December 15th – deadline to submit CANE Annual Writing Contest entrees
December 31st – deadline to nominate a teacher for the Weincke Award for Teaching
Ascanius’ SCRIBO student writing competition has a registration due date of December 1st! See the link for more details, including past entrees and detailed rules.
The Massachusetts Junior Classical League will hold their annual Classics Day on Friday, Dec. 6th at Boston University.
Brown University’s Annual Latin Carol Celebration is Dec. 9th.
The deadline for the Iris Art and Fiction Competitions is Dec. 20th.
The Pioneer Valley Classical Association is holding its own Classics Day on Friday, Jan. 17th. Please email the PVCA President, Bruce Arnold, for more details.
SALVI’s Rusticatio Latin July 2014 immersion weeks and pedagogy seminars are now open for registration. Sign up by Feb. 15th for a discount. See link for details. If a whole week is too much, you could sign up for their Biduum, Feb. 21-23.
The Yale University Peabody Museum of Natural History has a collection of Egyptian artefacts on display until the end of the year. The exhibition is called Echoes of Egypt and highlights the influence of and interest in Egyptian culture throughout the ages.