It was another really good day in my face-to-face teaching world – the second day of classes, when sometimes the sense of newness and excitement begins to wear off for teachers and students. I’m not sure why the day still felt fresh and happy, but it did.
Maybe it was because I had followed a very different approach to lesson planning from my “typical” one. Instead of thinking of the plan as a list of activities for students (or me) to do, I started with a list of goals and targets for my students (and me) to achieve. There obviously was a list of activities, but I was a lot less concerned about completing the list than about helping students reach the targets … and I’m sure that helped me feel more relaxed about the day.
Or maybe it was because all of my students are now using the Tres Columnae Project as their primary learning material. No more 20th-century textbooks – not even for my Latin III students! “Walking the talk” with everyone has probably helped me focus on building a joyful learning community and on building something meaningful together, too.
It might have been because I was thinking about proficiency levels with my more-advanced students. I really like the new ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines website: not only does it explain the various levels very clearly, but it also has great examples of what the various levels look like. My Latin III students spent some time with the examples (both videos and written products) on Day 2, and they’ll be spending some more time with them today. They’ll also be using something like this chart to assess their own proficiency levels, and then they’ll start to develop action plans to meet a target of “Intermediate Mid” in Interpretive Reading, for example, by the end of the course in January. They’ll be reading this “new” story and starting to create their own summary stories, each group focusing on a different major character they came to know in Lectiōnēs I-XXVII. They’ll definitely be building something meaningful together, and they’re excited to think that some of their work will end up published for others to use.
Meanwhile, my Latin I students will continue their progress through Lectiō I of Tres Columnae, focusing on questions and on different forms of the same word. Some of the questions they create for each other may also find a public audience, and I expect they’ll also create great illustrated family trees and other products they can publish and share later in the week. So all three classes, at this point, are really feeling like joyful learning communities.
Friends who know of my struggle with factory-model schooling may be wondering where my change of heart came from! And I’m not entirely sure myself. But I did realize a few things:
- It wasn’t quite time for me to leave the “old me” behind completely.
- I want – and need – to have a really excellent year in this face-to-face teaching environment … especially if the time is coming for me to move on to something new and different.
- When that time comes, I don’t want to run from the old; I want to run to the new. Running from is a natural reaction when you’re tired and frustrated, but it’s not good for you, for what you leave, or for what you hope to build.
So let’s see if we can build a joyful learning community in the midst of a factory-model school that’s trying, in many ways, to rebuild itself into something new and different. It’s a time of new beginnings and new starts, so I’m excited to be participating in the EdStartup 101 MOOC for the next few weeks. I even set up a special blog for my responses to that course; you’re welcome to read those posts, too, if you’d like, but I don’t want them cluttering up the stream over here.
“You have not because you do not ask.” Those words keep coming to mind this week, and I’m not sure why. But I think they’re related to our continuing theme of solutions inherent in the problems, and they may even be related to the difference in emotional tone that I find with this new set of classes. I’ve done much better about asking for students’ input and asking them if goals and directions are clear, and maybe that’s why we have a better feeling.
What do you think? What other connections between having and asking have I missed? And what else might be contributing to this very positive new school year?
quid respondētis, amīcī?