Reflections after Four Years of Teaching

School is out, and all that remains is grading. Over the past couple weeks, I’ve jotted down some thoughts I want to remember.

  • Students must be able to say, “I’m sorry.” You have to convince them how important this is. Being willing to say those words is the most important thing in the world. Preach it often. They need to hear it at least twenty times, which mean you need to say it at least fifty times.
  • During the course of a 9 month school year, character issues will crop up even in the brightest students. You can’t let things slide. You have to address the issues as they arise.
  • I’m more convinced that ever that for students to learn a language, they need to be quizzed frequently — i.e., more than once a week, more like every day.
  • You have to quiz principal parts early and often. Even if you haven’t covered all the principal parts, you can do quizzes on the first two or three principal parts for common verbs like ἔρχομαι and λαμβάνω.
  • Frequently remind students not to make any extra marks on assessments graded in class. Otherwise you will end up with all manner of comments and nonsense. Quiz art is good, but you’ll mostly get nonsensical silliness.
  • No matter what, never take out your frustrations on students. Never.
  • Be yourself. Relax in the classroom. Laugh and have fun.
  • Be professional. You are not hanging out with buddies.
  • Get more sleep. Everything is better when you go to bed by 10 or 10:30.
  • You must have high expectations for your students. Hold them to high standards, and they will excel.
  • The more time you can give to in-class recitation, the more they will memorize stone cold. Grading exams this year proves it. Which principal parts do they know the best? The hardest ones we memorized, those of φέρω. They also are nailing the pronoun paradigms because we chanted those paradigms incessantly.
  • Don’t forget how much they love chanting paradigms when you do it rhythmically and have fun with it.