We all know the past two years have been hard. I don't think I need to qualify that, or say "for some of us." Since I don't believe in the idiom "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger," I will instead say "What doesn't kill you, changes you." And we are changed.
I could list the numerous mass traumas of the past two years, but I think I will save reflecting on those to individual posts. So, here, I am going to talk about the sharing, loving, supporting, and, yes, healing that was the surprise focus of this year's American Classical League Institute.
One attendee told me (I didn't take a quote, so this is absolutely paraphrase) "In past Institutes, it felt like there were camps, based on how people teach, etc., but this year it feels like we have all banded together into one group." I agree. That is not to say that every Latin teacher on that campus agreed about everything--obviously, or we're not Classics scholars--but that a common thread emerged from every session and meeting I attended. Our main focus was not on promotion of individual products and ideologies, but on sharing things that work, helping each other become better teachers, checking in to remind each other that our own health is also important.
The thread was Caring and Community.
Even the director of the Cambridge Classics Project (the illustrious Caroline Bristow) did not present about the CLC textbooks at all, but about a fantastic and inspiring class she taught last summer focusing on trauma, race, and misogyny in the ancient world, and ways to bring that discussion safely into our own classrooms.
This was not unique--in the best way. This year I came away fully inspired, energized, and ready to work. I will probably do individual posts about the sessions I attended as I apply them to my classes--and honestly I need some time to think, reflect, and internalize some of the information before I use it. I always advise others to take one thing from a conference and implement it, and if that gets comfortable, then you can add another. I will be following my own advice!
I am looking forward to next year's Institute in St. Louis already. I am immensely proud of the work we did, as a member of the ACL Board and as a Latin teacher coming together to be part of this community.
Let us continue to help each other heal and become a caring community of support.
Rachel Ash is a teacher, author, seamstress, mother, wife, and overdescriber. She also loves a good list.