Yesterday, lab was bad. Like, I wasn't able to stay kind of bad. And I wasn't too happy about that. Today, I didn't go to the main lab meeting. It was going to be in the same place, with the same noise issue, and I was having none of that. I was also invited to a lab meeting/seminar about an hour from campus during the usual lab time, but I'd have said “sorry, can't go” if there hadn't been a reason I was already preferring to avoid the electrical engineering lab today. I take my teaching obligations seriously, and err on the side of staying to teach even in situations where getting a substitute would really be OK.
But there was a reason for me to skip teaching today, called an inaccessible classroom environment. So I checked with the primary professor, and I got the go-ahead to skip the main lab session in its (unusual) room and go to the seminar. Instead, I was to negotiate a time to meet with a student who needed to use the oscilliscope in our usual lab classroom. The usual classroom doesn't have construction or explosion testing nearby, so this is great. I quite like being helpful as a teacher in ways that I can be, you know, actually helpful.
(I can absolutely be helpful as a teacher while speech isn't working. When I teach for the Art of Problem Solving, everything is always already typed, and that means speech is irrelevant. I've tutored real analysis without speech before. I've even run labwithout speech before. I wrote on index cards, which I left with the students whose questions I was answering. It worked out fine. Speech was not the problem. Continuing sensory assault which prevented me from focusing on a problem long enough to answer it and which was bringing me to the point of meltdown was the problem. Or: An inaccessible classroom was the problem.)
And my meeting with this student wasn't an issue of “well here's some make-work.” She actually needed to use the oscilloscope, and therefore the professor actually needed to find a TA who could meet this student in the lab. Not only that, but there were 6 other students who needed supplies from the lab (extra chips because they need 5 two-input and gates and their chip only came with 4, more wires because the lab needed a ton of wires, that sort of thing.) There were even three other students who came in needing troubleshooting help. So I got a small group of students working in the lab at an hour that worked for me, where it was quiet, providing actually needed supervision. This was good, becauseI don't take well to make-work, not when I can't really work 40 hours in a week and collapse in about a week when I try. I need prioritization to make sure that the work I'm doing is truly needed, not busy work.
In case your wondering where all the reflections on my teaching are coming from: I'm preparing a proposal on teaching while disabled. If the proposal is accepted, I'll have to keep a teaching journal in the spring semester. Since blogging is like journaling but more accessible to me (Julia says this too!), blogging gets me in the habit that I'll likely need to form. Plus I form insights by letting myself write, and that means blogging helps me organize my thoughts in ways that may well help with the proposal writing.
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