Daily Rituals

I am finding that there are some daily rituals that can be very helpful to us in a CI classroom both with comprehensible input and with classroom management.  I will suggest just a few–some for me are tried and true, and one is brand new!

  1. Salutatio:  when the classroom bell rings signaling that class has started, I teach students that I will greet them (salvete!) and that I expect their enthusiastic response (Salve!).  If I get a weak response, I just keep doing it until everyone is on board.  Always–I deliver with a smile. That’s a required part of the ritual. Mine may be the only smile someone in the class sees all day, which would be sad, but it would be sadder if I missed the opportunity to the that one!  In the beginning with brand new students to me and certainly with Latin 1 students, I explain that this is a social greeting.  It does not mean “hello” but like “hello” is a social exchange for greeting others.  I explain that it means something like “Be well, safe, healthy!”  It is a wish for good health, and that’s a great way to greet others.  At the end of class, of course, we do the opposite: Valete!  Vale! (which I have explained, is also a wish–for wellness and strength).
  2. Telephona: After the Salutatio, I go through the following with gestures.  The first few days, I explain each piece of it along with the expectation that I do this as a fun reminder, that they are welcome to say it along with me (most do), and that by the end of this little ritual, I expect all cell phones to be silenced and in their bookbags.
    Magister: Discipuli, ubi sunt telephona?
    Discipuli: In saccelis!  (I point to a book bag)
    Magister:  Non in manibus (waving my hands near my shoulders); non in gremio (sort of sitting poster and hands in my lap); non in fundis (hand into my pocket), non sub clunibus (lift up a leg and tap under the top of my leg–I tell them this means–“not under my butt” which they think is hysterical).  Telephona tacita in saccellis sunt!
  3. Nomina: Especially with students who are new to me, I always do a formal roll call until I know all of their names and faces.  I make a big deal of pronouncing their names correctly and calling the name they like to be called.  But, I begin with this ritual, which I explain the first few days so that they know what we are all saying.  I keep it on the board for about a week.
    Magister: Nomina vocabo.  Respondete “adsum.” Then, I call names.  I also teach them to say “abest” for anyone not present.  If someone is absent, I respond “eheu, _____ abest!”
  4. CI Reminders: For students beyond the beginning point, this is a new ritual I am trying.  It’s what I otherwise will remind Latin 1 students (and really all levels) of the first week in English.  It goes like this.
    Magister:  Discipuli, commemoremus:  Cum vobis dico, respondeatis tamquam si mirabile sit–fortasse ooooooooooooooh.  Cum vos aliquid interrogo, detis mihi responsum!  Cum unum discipulum interrogo, quis respondeat?  Ille discipulus vel illa discipula mihi respondeat.  Incipiamus!

When introducing any ritual, we have to provide full understanding up front about what every word means.  Every student in the room HAS to know what every word means.  No exceptions. Then, over time, the ritual begins to feel comfortable and expected.  It becomes part of what we do together every day, and anything like that which invites us into the language, feels comfortable and is understood helps us with classroom management issues.  Used together, these little rituals: provide social greetings, take care of phone issues, account for student presence/absence and establish how we go about things in our CI classrooms.


D.E.A–Daily Engagement Assessment–CI Classroom Management

Don’t Mess with DEA!


Classroom management is an important issue, however you teach, but it becomes especially important in a CI classroom.  Some of the old behaviors that students routinely engage in other classes are show stoppers in a CI classroom.  The most basic of principles: teaching to the eyes  means that anything that interferes with that stop language acquisition.  So, closed eyes, head on desk, reading (anything), writing (anything), looking anywhere but at me, the teacher, stops acquisition.
Out of a long dialogue with other CI teachers, borrowing, changing and adapting to my local circumstances, I came up with D.E.A–Daily Engagement Assessment, but played off the word for “goddess” to make this playfully ominous.  So, my students find this on my website, and on my walls, and when they are new to me, they hear about it daily during the first 30 seconds of class in which I remember them of our way of doing things in this class.  I will offer some brief commentary at the bottom of this post. So, here’s what students see and hear in my room. (by the way, “messing with” is a Southern expression for “annoying” or “transgressing”):
Daily. Engagement. Assessment.  Tips for making sure you are getting as much out of Latin as possible.1. Be present and on time.  If you are late, you mess with DEA!

2. Sit up, shoulders square and make eye contact with the teacher or whoever is talking at any given point.  I can see in your eyes whether you are understanding or not, and if I cannot make contact with your eyes, you are messing with DEA!

3. Signal to me when you don’t understand, need me to repeat, slow down, stop, do understand, etc.  I am constantly looking for hand signals.  If I never get hand signals from you, you are messing with DEA!

4. Respond when I call on the whole class–loud, clear, enthusiastically!

5. Respond when I call on you.  Be clever, funny absurd with your responses if you want to (that keeps things fun).  Telling me “non intellego” or “confusus sum” or giving me a hand signal to let me know that you need help counts as a response, too.  Staying silent when you are lost is messing with DEA!

6. Don’t have side conversations in English.  (If you can have a side conversation in Latin, go right ahead, but don’t disturb what we are doing).  Speaking in English while we are speaking Latin is a HUGE messing with DEA!

7. People who blurt out in any language are messing with DEA!

8. Keep an attitude of good will toward everyone in the room.  Bad attitudes and bad will towards others is messing with DEA!

9. Have nothing on your desk, in your lap or in your hands while we are speaking in Latin.  If I have to ask you to remove things, you’re messing with DEA!

10. If you take notes on anything without being asked to, you’re messing with DEA!

DEA will work for you every single time, but just mess with DEA, and you won’t learn any Latin.  Got it?


Here’s the “wall” version of “Don’t Mess with DEA”. In Latin dea means goddess, so a little play on words here.
  • The core of how I manage a classroom has been and continues to be respect.  I still make that point, and I ask students if there is anything in the D.E.A that is not really about respect–which is always a two way street.
  • I give students a 100 point DEA grade every three weeks.  I keep a clipboard with the current class roster on it, and anytime I see a student violating one of the DEA agreements, I simply put the corresponding symbol in the daily space for that student.  At the end of 3 weeks, I subtract 5 points for every symbol.  Most students keep their 100 points.  Those who are really struggling will almost always have multiple symbols and a low DEA grade.  In other words, there is a direct correlation between the DEA agreements and acquisition of language using CI.  Therefore . . .
  • It is crucial to understand that this is not a daily participation grade or a behavior grade.  This is a daily assessment of students engaging in language acquisition or not.  Each item on the DEA is correlated with principles of CI.  If students do not join me in the agreements, they will not make progress in the languages.
  • I say often: I am only here for your success.  I want you to be successful.  When you __________, I cannot help you be successful.  (this is my one on one conversation with a student who is routinely violating the DEA agreements.
  • I have long been opposed to grades that are based on behavior and in using grades to control behavior.  That is not what this is about and if you should find yourself thinking of using it that way, then back up and reframe your way of thinking.  This is about helping every kind of learner be successful in Latin.

To create a CI daily assessment tool like this, you have to take CI principles, your local setting and requirements, and get creative. I borrowed some of this from Ben Slavic and others on his PLC.  I created other parts of it our of my experience and local concerns and needs.  If you think this will work for you copy it, use it, adapt it, jump off from  it.  One thing for sure:  you cannot ignore classroom management in a CI classroom.

Bob Patrick