Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Entering my Last Third

I am finishing up my 21st year of full-time teaching (prior to this, I taught part-time at a private school). In many ways, I find that astonishing, because it does not feel like I have taught for that long - so many of those years have blended together. But then I realize that I was at my former school for 17 years and am now finishing up my 4th year at my current school. Then throw in the fact that I have taught over 1,800 students during that time (although I usually teach around 150 students/year, many of those are repeats year after year, so probably 90 new students/year?) - that number still blows my mind!

I plan to retire in about 10-12 years, so the fact that I am now entering into the last third of my teaching career is incredibly significant to me as a Latin teacher. In ancient Rome, the office of a Vestal Virgin was a prestigious position for a woman as these priestesses of the goddess Vesta were considered religious guardians of the city. Those who were chosen began between the ages of 6-10 and served for 30 years, remaining as virgins during their time of service. The thirty years of a Vestal Virgin were very regimented:
  • the first ten years - were trained in their duties by elder Vestal Virgins
  • the middle ten years - served their duties as Vestal Virgins
  • the final ten years - trained newly chosen Vestal Virgins in their duties
As I look ahead to my final 10-12 years of full-time teaching, I must ask myself, "What can I do to help train/mentor new teachers in their early years of teaching, especially those who are interested in CI? What is it that I know now after 20 years of teaching that I can pass along to help novice teachers? What can I pass along which I have learned from those who are part of my CI family tree?"

I suppose in many ways that I am already doing this through this blog, but I still blog thinking that only 12 people read this. Although I am a doctoral student in instructional technology, I only use Twitter for professional reasons (and I am only on that 2-3 times a week), so I am not hip to what is going on in Facebook groups (and that is a personal choice) or in other social media forums.

Here are some ways in which I hope to help mentor novice teachers/newcomers, especially those wanting to learn more about CI:
  • I have signed up to be a Latin teacher Mentor as part of the American Classical League Mentorship program.
  • I wish to seek out and to partner with potential 1st-time/novice presenters to deliver presentations at conferences to give them experience and exposure.
  • I wish to be more available and approachable at conferences. When I attend conferences, I realize that I usually stick with my own group of friends and rarely branch out and spend time with those whom I do not know. For an ACL Summer Institute or an IFLT, I am seriously considering organizing nightly "A Meal with Five Strangers," where if newcomers to conferences do not know anyone or do not have anyone to eat with, they can join me and other newcomers to go out for a meal - the fact that no one really knows each other and that we are all strangers but are interested in meeting each other over a meal is what actually lowers the affective filter and social anxiety of it all. Many universities have events something like this but a lot more formal. When I was a student at UCLA, the alumni association had an event called "Dinner for Twelve Strangers," and I loved attending this event every!
  • I wish to be more available for observations by those who are interested in CI. Last month, we had four Latin teachers from three different schools come observe us at Parkview HS on the same day. I actually do like being observed, because it gives me a chance to show what I am doing in my classroom.
Those of you who are also in your last third, I challenge you too to take up the mantle!

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