The Rebellion of the 1%

In the past few months, I have heard from teachers around the country that they are starting to get push-back from the top 1% of their students. This is especially the case for teachers who are in the process of transitioning a traditional program into a more inclusive CI model. I’m here to tell you all that you are doing great work.

You have kicked open the doors of a lavish country club and barged in with a mob of common people. You have integrated a swimming pool in an apartheid state. You have gone to a gated community, torn down the gates, and moved yourself into the neighborhood. Do you know who has a problem with that? The members of the country club, the ruling ethnic group in the apartheid state, and the wealthy inhabitants of the gated community.

The whole reason why they chose to occupy those spaces is because they are exclusive. That isn’t an unfortunate side effect, it’s the whole point. The point is to breath rarefied air in choice company. The point is gain entry into elite social circles and surround themselves with an ever shrinking circle of aristocrats. You have stolen that from them and they will not go away peacefully.

Please remember, that literally ALL of us have experienced this kind resistance. There is no way to avoid it. It stings out ego when our students tell us that we are failing them. Just remember that you are not failing the 1% by catering to 99%. The 1% have been failed by those who have lured them to Latin under the pretense that it was privilege for only a choice few. They have been failed by those who expect them to arrive in their classrooms with a skill-set that only 1% possess. They have been failed by those who have taught them that their fellow students are burdens to their individual success.

Keep your heads held high and continue to let the 99% stream into our classes. Continue to make your classes comprehensible for ALL students. Continue follow best practices and do the right thing. You are incredible teachers and you will get through this.

– Magister Bracey

The Real Reason Why I Teach with CI

I was having a conversation with a student on the bus ride back from a field trip. The student asked me why I wanted to be a Latin teacher. I have been asked this question a million times, but for some reason I had a new answer. For some reason unbeknownst to me, I very clearly realized why I wanted to be a teacher in the first place and how that path took my to CI.  Here was my answer…

     I wanted to take something, that had been hoarded by the few, and give it to the many.            That something for me was Latin.

My attraction to Comprehensible Input was not born out of a dispassionate analysis of Second Language Acquisition research, but out of my desire to make Latin for everyone. That desire preceded my interest in learning about SLA.

CI has allowed me to bust down the walls offer Latin to ALL with zero strings attached. I can now offer Latin to anyone who is interested and confidently guarantee that they will experience some kind of success. No one flunks out, no one is discouraged from entry, no one has to prove their worthiness to me.

This is the real reason why I teach with CI and why I am determined to help others who are motivated by the same set of values.

Why do you teach the way that you teach? Is your approach accomplishing your goals? Is what you are doing in the classroom compatible with your reason for becoming a teacher?


My Presentation at CI Midwest

I just gave a presentation this past weekend at Comprehensible Input Midwest in Milwaukee called “I See You! Building Connections with your Students of Color”. The presentation focused on using CI to build lasting connections to our current and future students of color. Here’s a link to the presentation. Please let me know if you have any questions!

– Magister Bracey

Limiting Beliefs to Lose before School Starts

Addition by subtraction is the name of this game. Like most of us, my brain is flooded with ideas and anxieties heading into a new school year. So, as a general practice, I like to start the new year by identifying limiting beliefs that are cluttering my brain space. How do I define limiting beliefs for Latin teachers? I define a limiting belief as any belief that inhibits my ability to make quality decisions for my students and myself. Here are some beliefs that I plan on purging before my first day of classes.

I need to prepare my kids for…

I can honestly say, that I have never made a decision, that I’m proud of, based on the desire to prepare my kids for a standardized assessment, some future class, some future or some future teacher. I am under no pressure other than to be the best possible teacher for my kids, so there is no reason for me to invent inappropriate external benchmarks.

I need to spend lots of time prepping materials to be a good teacher.

I need to show up, be present, and provide meaningful input for my students. They won’t mind if I don’t stay up until 4am re-formatting a document or color-coding their stories by theme.

I must silence the critics.

At this point, anything short of infants translating Tacitus into both literal and lilting English prose will NEVER impress the CI detractors out there, so there is no point in trying.

The purpose of learning Latin is…

There is no need to decide for our students why Latin is worth knowing. Latin is beautiful. My students will come to class with a variety of reasons for wanting access to Latin’s beauty. The class is about the kids and their goals, not mine.

But I want them to do it right!

Take a deep breath. Now take another one. If a student writes ego amat legit, they have clearly expressed IN LATIN that they like to read. Let that sink in. Now take another deep breath. Now smile.

What about Latinity!?

Who’s idea was Latinity anyway? This may not be a popular opinion, but my eyes glaze over as soon as I hear that word. Is the world somehow a worse place if I use the word meus instead of mihi when writing a story? Seriously! I am not going to waste hours of my life engaging in endless conversations about how to express the simplest ideas in Latin. The obsessive-compulsive nitpicking just isn’t worth it.

Comprehensible Input is not enough.

It is 🙂

– Magister Bracey