My best teacher

We were asked to consider our best teacher.  I had many great teachers, but I certainly regard my high school Latin teacher as a true inspiration. I attended a very large public high school and she had three full sections of 9th and 10th grade Latin. Imagine that.  We all wanted to take her class.  She was spunky and energetic, and yes, the guys drooled over her, but I think we were all captured by her passion and obvious intelligence.   I still remember chanting noun endings: us, um , i , o, o , i, os, orum, is, is!  She was incredibly rigorous, but she made us feel like reading the Aeneid in Latin was absolutely do-able.  She made us care about the human stories in great literature, while also teaching us how to translate with incredible attention to detail.  And, she combined the learning with fun; she held huge Saturnalia parties each year (togas and Cesear salads) and had us make mosaics out of painted broken egg shells.  In 11th and 12th grade, we stuck with her, filling her two AP Latin classes and scoring remarkably high on the AP tests.

The fact that I went off to college as a Classics major speaks volumes.  When I returned to visit her one Christmas break, she burst out enthusiastically, “I am engaged!”  No… she was not re-marrying after years of being a single mom; rather, she was referring to her intellectual engagement.  She had been in Rome on a Fulbright scholarship that previous summer. Her research was making her hum, and  her teaching remained electric.  I remember the way she beamed.  “That,”  I thought, “is why she is a great teacher.  That’s the kind of teacher I want to be.”

So… how does one convey that kind of “teaching like your hair is on fire” in the online environment?  I try… I think I succeed to a degree.  But can it really be shared in an online learning community??  Can students feel a teacher’s “burning to create” attitude and approach online?    Hmmm…

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