If you’re reading this post live on Monday morning, I hope I’ll be helping my students celebrate a successful Friday without me. While I was away at the CAMWS-Southern Section meeting on Friday, I’d asked the Latin I classes to
- play an old-favorite learning game, “Make the Verb āleā iactā,” to review the verb forms they’ve learned so far;
- read a series of stories from Tres Columnae Lectiō VII, continuing our theme of teaching and learning in the Roman world;
- create Latin questions about the stories for an activity we’ll be doing today; and
- possibly do a comprehensive “Pair Practice” review of noun and verb forms.
Later in the day, my Latin III students were asked to
- play a similar game, but with infinitive forms;
- do a similar reading and question-creating activity, but with the stories in Tres Columnae Lectio XXXIII; and
- possibly start working on a “Quick Background Research” assignment, building up their background knowledge about the Roman army for our upcoming unit in which the now grown-up Lucius, Caius, and Cnaeus embark on very different lives of public service.
Even when my students have had difficulties, as they had on Thursday, they usually do well for substitute teachers … and they were scheduled to have a particularly good one on Friday. So my hopes for them are high – and I’m hoping they’ll exceed my high expectations, just as my weekend at CAMWS did.
When I was a young, energetic teacher, I always tried to attend every possible conference session, sit close to the front, take copious notes, file the notes away in binders … for what? For future reference? I found a set of those binders earlier this year, neatly labeled with conference names and dates from 20 years ago. These days I’m much more relaxed about attending sessions, and my electronic notes no longer need to be hole-punched.
Last time I attended a CAMWS-Southern Section meeting, quite a few years ago, I was really worried about the future of Classical Language learning. There were good papers that year, a good banquet, good conversations with old friends – but I felt a listlessness, a lack of energy that deeply worried me. Maybe the lack of energy was real, or maybe it was more internal than external. Either way, I felt a new energy this year: new friends, new approaches, new interpretations. I’m pretty sure the new energy was real – but was it really new? Or was it there the whole time? Was it slowly building, slowly growing, ready to burst forth at the proper time?
Commenting on Friday’s post on Google+, Debbie said
As I read your blog I thought about my own blog of the day and about Honesty… being honest about motivations, fears, etc. and about being honest about our role in current circumstances. When the class is in chaos, “let’s be honest” and see if /how we contributed to the disruption.
The tangent conversation that was triggered for me came near the end when you said, “address them in a way that restores joyful community”. Let’s be honest (my phrase of the day) … that’s what we want, right , a joyful community? We don’t want chaos; we don’t want challenges and barriers; we don’t want to see students struggling with a personal issue, with an academic concept; we don’t want to see students in conflict or teachers in conflict; we just want a joyful community. But where does our greatest Wisdoms come from? From times of discord, when we are presented with challenges and situations outside of our comfort zone.
When we are able to see all experiences as an opportunity to teach, guide, strengthen core values, then we can celebrate the unjoyfulness. We can jump into the teachable moment with a smile on our face (ok, probably not jumping or smiling) but at least hopeful?
As I drafted this post Saturday evening, looking forward to a long drive home on Sunday, I hoped the “times of discord” I’ve faced, we’ve faced, really are yielding greater Wisdom. And I hoped my students’ painful times on Thursday would lead to greater wisdom, greater understanding, greater joy in the coming days too.
How can we build a joyful community strong enough to learn and grow together in challenging times? How do we build persistence in an instant-gratification world? And how do we keep building the joyful community in the corners of those dying factories?