My first column published in 2014 with Edarabia. As I finish power points and lesson planning for the first 6 weeks, I look back. This was written while we still owned Cupcake Cache. Last week, I realized I need to reread this first blog!
This past weekend, I was reading an editorial about “What College Does.” I am getting ready to return to teaching English 121, 122 (Advanced Writing) as an adjunct in the English Department at the University. The article reminded me of my plans to have everything in place for the beginning of my classes next week. It is my desire to render some kind of control to the often frenetic and hectic beginnings of a new semester, not unlike the beginnings of every New Year or new place for instructors. Whether you are teaching primary, middle, secondary or collegiate in the United States or overseas, the aura of uncertainty is sure to render you incomplete at times.
This editorial addressed the issue for me by stating that “the college years aren’t for figuring out some improvised ‘sense of purpose.’ They’re more like a period of acclimatization…it goes on to state that “it is a natural for college students to be a little ironic, a little unsettled and it is a good time for this to happen because a humanistic education has to do with a consciousness of, and a familiarity with, the limits they will find themselves talking about and pushing about for the rest of their life.” Ha, ha. I think that Joshua Rothmann has it right. This rings a bell of truth for the instructor and those in charge. As changes in education and the process of learning continue daily, the only thing we can be certain of is change itself.
Perhaps the best attitude for an instructor to embrace is that he or she will be learning along with their students. We can mentor, encourage, and portray writing and the style of the writers along with the ability to communicate but we cannot take the pen in hand and write the essay. We have to accept the growth as it comes, and the year or the semester, harried, and confusing at times, as it may be before we enter the classroom. So, for those of us who like to have a wrap in hand, we should know, with new beginnings, come a new time to develop and show the way to our students. There will never be one view to see the field of learning and education, but rather different perspectives.
The New Year at Saint Leo isn’t so different from being overseas. I am fortunate to know those I can seek out for supplies, and some answers to questions. I don’t have to be familiar with testing expectations which can be challenging to incorporate. There will be other Humanities instructors I can speak with about their experience and we will share some information, but ultimately the path to choose will be mine. I have the syllabus in hand along with the more detailed expectations each week, but the best I can do is hope they will do the assignments and keep up with me. Their journey as a freshman will be interesting and they can’t expect to find all the answers to their future in the next coming years, but hopefully they will learn to use their critical reasoning skills, question themselves, and prepare for changes. Something the instructors will also be doing, so as we grow older, the questions don’t change, but the answers to the test will.
When I showed this to my husband, who has a MBA, he brought up some good points. “No good OP plan survives first contact. “ His background is military. I liked how he rephrased it: no matter how prepared for war, as soon as the first bullet is discharged, everything changes.” Ad hoc: go with the flow. Instructors know their plans will change from the first day of school. Improvisation will become their second amendment to their expectations. Enjoy the new semester wherever you are.
About the Author
Mrs. Eve Dobbins has a BA in English Literature from SUNY Stony Brook. Her MA is in TESOL from the University of South Florida. She began her career as an ESOL tutor at Berlitz in New York. Ms. Dobbins is public school certified in multiple subjects and has taught all levels of public education. In addition to her experience in public education, she has taught ESOL strategies for elementary education teachers at the collegiate level. Ms. Dobbins also has teaching experience at multiple community colleges before accepting her current position at ST. Leo. Her experience does not stop at U.S schools, as she has also taught at different levels in South Korea, France, and most recently the United Arab Emirates. When not teaching, she enjoys baking cupcakes (she is owner of Cupcake Cache LLC in Tampa), reading, and writing a children’s book about desserts of different countries.