salvēte, amīcī et sodālēs! If you’re reading this post “live,” today is the first “real” day of school in my face-to-face teaching world … our first day with students. Even though it’s the nineteenth “first real day” for me as a teacher, it feels like a new beginning. I suppose there are several reasons for this:
Of course, I always feel as though the first day of school is a new beginning! If I ever stop feeling that way, I’ll know it’s time for me to go and do something else. After all, it’s the first day of Latin for my Latin I students, and the first day of their new level of Latin for my returning students … and it’s the first day of their current grade for everybody. If I lose touch with that excitement (and the apprehension that often accompanies it), I won’t be giving my students what they need and deserve from me.
This first day is the first one on which my Latin I students will (most likely) be using Tres Columnae Project materials as well as a conventional textbook. That’s obviously exciting for me! I keep hearing from lectōrēs fidēlissimī who are planning to use the project materials in different ways with their classes this year, and that’s very exciting. I also keep hearing from folks who would like to use the material (for example, Elizabeth, who commented on yesterday’s post) but don’t think their schools are quite ready. Of course, you could always ask … or I suppose you could “ask forgiveness later” if that’s your personality type. But perhaps you want to offer the TC materials to your students as an option for outside work – it’s unlikely that anyone would object to an option, after all, and once your students and their families get a feel for the materials, they might have more influence on your “unready” schools than you ever could. Of course that’s completely up to you; after all, you know your situation, your school, and your community much better than an outsider like me!
This first day also feels like a watershed for me. When I started teaching, I spent nine years at one school before making the move to my current school in the fall of 2001 – I wasn’t sure whether the timing was auspicious or not in mid-September of that year! So last school year was my ninth at the current school, and I’ve now spent more of my teaching career there than anywhere else. I’m very fond of the school and the community, and I treasure the opportunities I’ve had to work with siblings, family friends, cousins, and all the other connections that happen when you spend a long time in a place. It’s a bit disturbing, though, to realize that my (senior) homeroom students were second-graders when I started teaching at the current school! At least I’ve moved from one classroom to another a few times!
Anyway, in the spirit of new beginnings and watersheds, I want to return to the idea of Contributing Editors that I mentioned in yesterday’s post, and I also want to revisit the idea of Ownership as it applies to the Tres Columnae Project. One of our lectōrēs fidēlissimī recently sent me some great suggestions for simple supplementary stories to accompany the first few Lectiōnēs – for example, one would introduce the idea of adjectives with sentences that described the various characters: Caelius obēsus est, Vipsānia pulchra est, etc. When I suggested the Contributing Editor idea to her, she was interested but felt she didn’t have time to do that properly; in fact, she said she’d be glad to create the stories and give them to the project without retaining any Ownership of them.
And that made me realize that my commitment to Ownership isn’t as universal as I’d thought. It’s funny, because over the course of those 19 years, I’ve given away a whole lot of materials: supplemental worksheets, project ideas, “extra” stories, tests and quizzes – all the things that desperate young teachers request on the Latinteach, Latin-BestPractices, and other listservs that many of you read regularly. And yet, despite all this giving, I had the idea that folks would be more willing to share their materials if they did retain some Ownership of their creations … even though I freely share things myself and don’t have any concerns about Ownership issues.
So I suppose I should ask you all this: How important is Ownership to you? To be more specific, imagine a system in which you, the Tres Columnae participant, had a choice when creating stories and other Submissions for the site. You could pay an editing fee and retain Ownership of the content, or you could submit for free, but grant “TC” Ownership (i.e., the intellectual property rights) to the content you created. And you could make that decision on a submission-by-submission basis. Would that appeal to you?
And, perhaps more important, would it appeal to your students? I know the iGeneration pretty well – after all, my favorite-and-only daughter is a member of it – but I don’t think I’ve ever really asked them how they feel about intellectual property issues. I’ll do that with my face-to-face students this week or next, but I’d love to know what your students think – or what you yourself think if you’re a member of that exciting and innovative generation.
Tune in next time, when we’ll explore more implications of these ideas and consider some places where supplemental stories might be a good fit with the existing project. intereā, grātiās maximās omnibus iam legentibus et respondentibus.