I have decided to share my drawing and CI journey with you all. Hopefully it will resonate with you and perhaps explain how I came to embrace CI.
Prior to 2007 - I was all about grammar-translation. Like you probably, I absolutely love grammar. That is why I was attracted to Latin - since it was being taught in a grammar-translation manner, it instantly appealed to me. Latin was like a puzzle to me - I could immediately see or at least decode how sentences were set up. I had never heard Latin spoken before, but why should we? In my opinion, our goal as Latinists was simply to translate classical works into English via grammar-translation. I spent my undergraduate years at UCLA, obtaining my Bachelor of Arts degree in Greek and Latin, and I received my Masters degree in Latin from UGA - both programs were pure grammar translation. At this time, I was of the biggest advocates against any type of spoken Latin, let alone Comprehensible Input.
2007 - I attended a Blaine Ray TPRS workshop, because I had heard about TPRS and was interested in using some active Latin in my classroom. I was implementing the reading method in my classes, and I was still very grammar-oriented. I had never before heard of Comprehensible Input. I was really impressed with what I saw, as Blaine did a TPRS demo in German. I decided to facilitate some TPRS in my classes, but at the same time, I saw CI/TPRS purely as just another tool to add to my bag of tricks, i.e., I was not convinced that there was one single way to teach Latin.
2010 - This was a turning point in my teaching career, as I taught AP Latin for the first time and witnessed first hand that we (the College Board, university classics departments, and tradition) were asking WAY TOO MUCH from students after just 3 years of Latin. I was unaware of the ACTFL proficiency scales at this point (for the record, the Aeneid is SUPERIOR level reading), but I came to the realization that asking students to translate 1,900 lines of the Aeneid in a year (something I never did in college/graduate school as a Latin major) was way beyond their capability. This is also when I started to notice the concept of "4%ers," although I did not know the term or had heard anything about it. After this experience, I knew that I needed to make a HUGE change in the way I viewed the teaching of Latin and in how I taught it. I had become rather disillusioned with the traditional view of teaching Latin and what our goals were.
2013 - This was the year that I fully embraced CI. That summer, I attended THREE CI workshops, so what I did not quite understand at the first workshop was reinforced at the second one, and so on. Because I had a foundation of CI through my experiences in implementing TPRS, in addition to my experience in teaching AP Latin, embracing CI 100% was not too difficult for me. Learning ways to implement CI was where my journey headed for the next few years. I attended numerous national CI conferences such as NTPRS and IFLT, and my CI family tree began. 2013 is also the year I began this blog. When I first started this, my goal was that perhaps 20 Latin teachers would read this. Never did I imagine that it would turn into what is now, where I have had over 350,000 pages views in the past five years, and the majority of people who read this are non-Latin teachers.
2013-2016 - Although I was implementing CI at my school, I was the only Latin teacher at my school who had embraced it, as I was moving away from the textbook. As much as I loved my Latin department, it still was kind of lonely being the only CI teacher. I needed a change.
2016 - present - I am now in a Latin department, where all of us are implementing CI, as I work alongside Rachel Ash, John Foulk, Bob Patrick, and Miriam Patrick. The Parkview High School Latin department has over 700 students and 5 Latin teachers. It is so nice to be in a department where everyone is on the same page pedagogically.
The future - I really do not know where I am headed. Will I continue to be a Latin teacher? Will I leave the classroom and use my graduate degree to become a local school technology coordinator?
- I still love grammar and will continue to do so. I also need to realize that the average student is not I - the average student does not like grammar. I am the "weirdo" and the "not normal" one. That does not by any means mean that this is wrong, but I do need to understand that explicit grammar teaching is not productive nor 100% necessary for students to learn a language at the novice/intermediate levels - pop-up grammar teaching is what CI teachers do instead. To quote Bill Van Patten: "If all students were like language teachers, then they would be teachers of language, and they're not. We're the weirdos."
- I think that I was able to embrace CI completely in 2013, because I had a foundation of CI with TPRS of which I was unaware. Even though prior to 2013 I viewed TPRS as just another tool to add to my toolbox of teaching, I was still implementing CI and did not know that I was. I wonder if I would have embraced CI so fully in 2013 if I had not been dabbling in TPRS for a few years.