Our normal vacations include disappearing into the wilderness and losing cellphone coverage, so our trip to Atlanta was far from a traditional spring-break locus and far more professional development than vacation. We never lost cellphone coverage, nor did we ever feel alone. In fact, we were professional residents of the queue: perfecting the tourist slow shuffle through the Georgia Aquarium and World of Coke or fighting like a salmon against the current as we navigated passing periods in schools that are three times the size of our local ones.
In all, the trip was bittersweet for me. The point of our Latin Nerd Vacation to Atlanta was to visit and observe Latin teachers who have successfully implemented comprehensible-input strategies into their classrooms. The observations were particularly useful to Lee, and they bolstered his spirits and enthusiasm in an otherwise demoralizing year. One of my friends, who opened her house to us (and to our dog), is both an incredible Latin speaker and a wonderful Latin teacher. I wish that I could spend a year in her classroom because I feel as if I would improve my Latin dramatically—and get rock-hard abs from all the laughter!
As I no longer teach, the journey also served to remind me how much I miss teaching Latin. I miss the ridiculous costumes and the completely undignified stories and the vivacious kiddos. While I am certainly not sorry to have lefts parts of the profession behind, I rather feel like part of my identity is absent, as if teaching were a limb that I had lost that still tingles from time to time. I tried to fill that void by taking a graduate Latin course, but it isn’t the same. For one, I’d much rather write lesson plans than read academic research. For two, in my graduate class, no one as yet has dressed up as a cat and chased a fellow student wearing a cowboy hat around the room.
Returning to teaching Latin isn’t on the horizon, nor is moving to Atlanta where Latin teaching jobs abound. After much soul searching, I have postponed admission into the MA program in Classics another year to allow myself more time to learn to manage my fibromyalgia. Living vicariously through my husband’s Latin program and helping out with Kansas Junior Classical League events has not been enough to feed my zippy pow-in-the-face love of all things Latin. I must plan to bring more Latin into my life.
This summer, after my graduate class ends, I want to write simpler versions of the Eclogues that range in difficulty from Latin I to Latin IV. I also want to return to the story I had begun writing (a little over ambitiously) last November. Will it be enough to fill the void? Probably not. But then again, I was certainly familiar with never being enough of anything as a teacher. And, like a teacher, I’ll make it work with what I’ve been given the best I know how.