I found this from 2014 and it reaffirms my belief in taking chances.  I use this to remind myself to continually take a new risk, so I don’t shrivel up into my small corner of the world.  

Sometimes it seems as if the nickname of grammar girl is becoming my second namesake instead of Mrs. Dobbins. In the last week of correcting essays, teaching about writing, checking on lesson plans, etc., I am sure that I have learned more from the Prentice Hall Reference Guide than many of my students. I never realized that by becoming an instructor, you also become the student you want to teach. It is ironic that you become very knowledgeable about your subject matter once you are the instructor…it is either that…or you adapt a “laissez-faire” approach to the classroom meaning you go with the flow and become almost as relaxed as your students. Most of the instructor’s approach to the classroom is somewhere in between; you don’t want to be a stickler for grammar but you want to get your point across just like you want the students to turn in their work on time and show up on time.

The students in English 121 were assigned to write an essay about defining and solving a problem. I was really surprised about the range of problems and solutions they listed from dealing with tangled ear plugs from head phones to solving the Ebola crisis, cyber bullying, voting for marijuana to be legalized, the problem of getting rid of career politicians in office, poor customer service, if college athletes should be paid, etc. One essay that I really enjoyed reading was titled “Just look up.” It was about the obsession of people checking their iphones, etc. and the lack of human contact. It made a lot of sense to me. I was glad to read all the essays because it gave me some good insight into the character of my students. I realized that most of them are ok. Like my generation, we complained about school work and sometimes my parents despaired about us. I can remember years ago when I was accepted to study in France at the Sorbonne (part of a year abroad package) through Stony Brook University, I was so excited! I even found a job through a friend of my parents as an au pair so my room and board was taken care of. Well, I can remember one of our neighbors in the Catskills saying despairingly to me about one of her relatives who she referred to as “a good for nothing” and she mentioned he had attended the Sorbonne to study Philosophy. She insinuated it hadn’t helped him much. Ironic, that so many years later I remember this statement. I went anyway and it turned out to be one of the best things I have ever done. Je ne regrette rien!

So, I may be like my parents, like other instructors disparaging why can’t they see something or why aren’t they doing something about this but then when I read their essays, I see many of them are maturing They are also becoming critical thinkers. They don’t see the whole picture yet, but I wish for them that they will seize the opportunity in their 20s to visit Paris, or to look up from the iphone, take a chance on a new friend or open their mind to new possibilities. And 20 years from now, I want for them that they look back and realize they listened to what people said around them, but then they took their own advice. I hope they say “Je ne regrette rien.”

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