Latin Proposal Help

Here is a request from David Talone who was our very first Teacher of the Month so many years ago! I have simply not had time to write up those Teacher of the Month articles each month but if you search that term here you will find some familiar names of recipients. It would be nice to have the time to continue that monthly award but who has the luxury of time and besides we are all teachers of the month all the time.


Greetings!  I ran into Donna Tatum-Johns this past weekend and she said that you were out in India with Linda Li.  That sounds fabulous. I hope you are enjoying retirement!

Hopefully we will have the chance to finally meet this summer at IFLT in Chattanooga.  I’m planning on making it if at all possible.

I was wondering if you could share something on the blog that is both private and time-sensitive.  I have been given the opportunity to make a proposal at my school for a different type of Latin program (i.e. a CI one.)  While I am a lone wolf and have encountered significant push-back in my department (particularly in my Spanish classes where I have been forced to abandon TPRS,) I have recently received some indications that my administration and department head might be receptive to a pitch for a CI Latin program.  The fact that they know I am actively pursuing other jobs at the moment, and their desire to keep me at the school might play a role in their willingness to hear my pitch!

I have put together a 5 page proposal for a CI based Latin program, as well as a bastardized version (which is what would have to make do with at the current time due to a long-tenured traditional colleague.) I would love to get members’ feedback on the proposal.

I am sharing it as a google document below, which is open for comments.

I appreciate the help,





13 thoughts on “Latin Proposal Help”

  1. Robert, Lance, Alicia, Bob, and other who have take a look,

    Thanks so much for the help and feedback. I feel like the end result will be much improved as a result of all your contributions.

    Are there any other selling points that I am missing? I want to keep the document as concise as possible but also don’t want to leave anything out that would make my case stronger. I am leaving out the theory behind it simply because there was no way that I could concisely explain that. My dept. chair is well-informed on theory (a listener of Tea with BVP!) and I can direct my principal to outside resources (Bob and Justin’s articles in particular) if he wants more background.

    Thanks again!


  2. First, Alisa, thanks for your help and my apologies for getting your name wrong earlier!

    Today I presented this proposal to my traditional colleague who teaches the upper levels (and has been at the school for over 40 years!). I wanted to get out in front of this with her out of professional courtesy. I would rather she hear about the proposal from me first.

    She is very traditional (reading approach for the Latin teachers out there) but has been supportive of my experimentation with CI methods, despite the fact that she does not do anything approaching them.

    She reacted very positively to the proposal despite the fact that it imagines a future without her. To her credit she is most interested in regrowing the program and getting students excited about the language. Our department outside of Latin is completely proficiency based (but not CI) so she was familiar with the idea of basing goals on proficiency targets.

    Tomorrow is the big meeting with my department head and principal. I am thinking that I will send them a copy of the proposal this evening so that they can have time to glance over it before the meeting tomorrow. I will post an update (for better or for worse) tomorrow.


  3. David, the fact that your traditional Latin colleague didn’t immediately break the leg off the table with her bare hands and beat you to death with it, is a remarkably positive sign. This is going to go very well tomorrow. I’m proud of you, brother!

  4. Thanks for all the support guys.

    I just got out of the meeting 20 minutes ago with my principal and department head. I had sent them the proposal the night before and my department head came in with it all marked up, while the principal had yet to look at it.

    Overall it went very well. They are both completely on-board with the idea of an active (i.e. spoken) proficiency-based Latin program. They were very happy to hear that I showed the proposal to my colleague and she was not resistant to it. They flipped for the copies of Bob and Miriam and Rachel’s books that I showed them as possible texts in Latin 1 and 2. My department head is not as thrilled at the idea of having a speaking proficiency goal for the program, as she sees the speaking just as supporting the reading of texts. I think I am okay with that. However, they both want to push my colleague to get with the program rather than letting her continue in her old ways. Unfortunately, I think that will push her into retirement, which was not my goal.

    The principal was visibly excited by the vision that I laid out and completely on-board. My department head was mainly so, though at the end she pushed back a little with the dreaded “RIGOR” word. She wants to know how I will demand rigor in the courses, so that Latin doesn’t become known as the easy course. I didn’t have time to push back much since the meeting was coming to an end, but that is a big concern for me. I am absolutely fine with Latin being known as the easy course, and if the majority of my students don’t get an 80% on an assessment, I won’t count it since it means I didn’t give them enough CI. The vast majority of my students get in the high B or A range. And that is great.

    I know that Robert and others have crafted documents here that push back on that concept of rigor. I will peruse the archives here, but if anyone could give me quick links that would be great as I want to push back on this as soon as possible, because I know that my dept. head does not really approve of CI/TPRS methods and is a micro-manager, and I need to know if she will really let me execute this vision or not.

    They also asked about my job search process with other schools and how that affects their decision making. I told them that I would be happy to stop my search right now and commit to the school if the school is willing to commit to the vision that I laid out. I have a final interview at a private school in Atlanta on Monday, but I am willing to cancel if I feel confident that things will work out where I am. That is partially why I want to push back against my department head’s “rigor” argument as soon as possible.

    Thanks again, and sorry for the long-winded rant. I am still coming down from the adrenaline of the meeting.

  5. Awesome news!

    I often use the rigor poster – – to talk to parents about “hard work.” I sometimes have parents who think their son is a hard worker so how could he do so poorly in Latin. And I use the poster (I also just have it on a sheet of paper to hand out) to talk about what it means to work hard in Latin – which is different from many other classes where “working hard” means doing lots of homework or memorizing things.

    I would probably want to push back – as you said- that the goal in a way IS to make it easy for them – that is what a teacher is meant to do (help students learn). I think in that way I would want to focus on the realistic goals. If they meet the realistic goals and its easy – WHY DO THEY CARE???? They are meeting the goals. If I was teaching geometry and I found a way to make it easy and everyone learned all the principles and proofs (and whatever) in geometry then why would anyone care that it is easy?

    I suppose the next thing I would want to focus on immediately where people would “worry” about an “easy” class is homework. I don’t give homework – though I advise that more reading (with the handouts I give would be helpful) – because it isn’t helpful to go home and memorize or do worksheets (the typical kind of homework that is often thought to be included in “hard work”).

    So maybe three things I would want to focus on:
    (1) describing what “rigor” or “hard work” looks like in a CI classroom (the rigor poster is a great place to start)
    (2) emphasizing that meeting the goals matter and that CI makes it “easy” to meet the goals if you are working hard in the way described from #1
    (3) lay out specifically how homework – if at all – fits into this.

    That way you can make sure to show that it is in some way hard (intense focus by students in the classroom) and in some way it is easy (very little outside work/studying for tests, etc.). This will allow you to be upfront about the way it is easy and see how on board they are – because compared to all the outside work in other language classes CI class IS easy (even if the in-class work of being focused is much harder).

  6. Let them do the talking. Ask your department head to define rigor, then remind them that this new proficiency based model is different. There are no shortcuts when it comes to acquisition, so “demanding rigor” depends on where individual students are in their own progression. You can only ask different levels of questions to different students who will feel that rigor more or less. The point is that they don’t feel rigor at all since acquisition is an unconscious.

    I would also mention the victory achieved if kids start saying Latin is easy. Traditionally, Latin has excluded a great many students. As long as you hae evidence of growth, that should squash any concern of rigorous Latin, right?

  7. Lance,

    I appreciate your advice and agree.

    However, I think that probably won’t fly. Our modern language program is proficiency-based as well (though using a skill-building, ACTFL-endorsed, communicative approach.) There the teachers apply “rigor” by making students speak before they are ready and by paying far too much attention (in my opinion) to the “correctness” of students’ output. Even there pressure was applied at the beginning of the year because of “grade inflation” in the program, and there was a push for us to be “more demanding”

    My department head would probably not agree that acquisition is unconscious, and that is a rabbit-hole that I am wary of going down.

    I really want to push back now before making a final decision because I anticipate that the grades of my students will be quite high throughout (I certainly hope so).

    I am thinking that I should attack on two fronts: one, the definition of rigor from the State Department that Robert Harrell provided us with and the close connection with what we do in the classroom. Second, the rigor has to be in the standards, right? If the students are meeting the proficiency standards than that is a good sign. Unfortunately, the way people think around here, if all the students are making the standards then that means the standards should be readjusted to be more rigorous (i.e. insure that some students won’t meet them.)

  8. Update

    I just wanted to update folks on how my situation played out since so many of you came to my rescue with help on the proposal.

    Long story short, my proposal was accepted by both my department head and principal. I was given the go ahead to expand the TPRS Latin program into the second year next year and to start helping my older colleague into transitioning into a more proficiency based program at the upper levels. Because my colleague has been at the school for the past 40 years I was limited to teaching the first two levels for the time being, but my dpt. head was open to asking/pushing my colleague to attend IFLT. This was a big and unexpected victory , and a testament to the power of both CI, and the wonderful colleagues here (especially Robert and Bob) who helped me.

    Unfortunately, it was all for naught as the upper administration (director of curriculum, head of school) decided that my colleague’s number of students was too low (despite being 4 preps) and that I could only teach the Latin 1 level (along with doing 3 classes of Spanish using the communicative approach… ugh). I let them know that this was a deal breaker for me, but they decided that it wasn’t worthwhile to invest in a dynamic Latin program. So, I am off to pastures unknown.

    I do know that wherever I end up, I will be doing CI and TPRS in all my classes. Thanks for all the support!

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