I challenged my colleague and brilliant blogger buddy to write about two things we will be doing differently this semester. The whole act of teaching after being gone for over a year, after rising at 6:00 in each morning to get myself into a decent state before I can get my daughter into a decent state and dropping her off, often crying, at daycare, and hurriedly eating and drinking coffee while finalizing my class plan before arriving at the classroom feeling like a wobbly foal, newly born and uncertain, well, this whole act is fresh.
But it would be a cop-out to leave it at that. There are concrete things I'm doing differently this semester. I chucked out a LOT of material and am scrambling to put together new assignments, fresher and more relevant readings, and new classroom activities. During my sabbatical, I learned a lot about disability and access and I'm doing a unit on disability in my college-level composition class. So far, students are receptive to texts like Judith Butler and Sunaura Taylor's conversation on walking, available in video form and in an easily printable transcript. We use Edward Said's theories from Orientalism (an oldie but always a goodie) and the students are surprised to see themselves "othering" persons with disabilities in speech and writing, even as they disavow doing so against other groups. It's all a learning process.
Another commitment I have made is to use only captioned videos. This greatly limits the spontaneity with which I can incorporate current videos into our discussion, as most content is not captioned. But, it was a timely commitment on my part, as I have a hard of hearing student in one of my classes, and I would have had to eliminate caption-less videos anyway in order to comply with ADA law.
So, come on, publishers. Get with the program and caption your damn videos. As with many ADA/UDL recommendations, when access is built in from the beginning, it isn't a huge task to undertake. But going back and captioning them later, or having college instructors like me get permission to do the captions myself is a huge burden.
All this stuff is important. So important. I'm so fortunate to have a job that I believe is meaningful and that pays well enough to support a small family. But holy mother of god; I never appreciated what working parents went through before. I didn't realize it at the time, but beforehand, the game was so much simpler.
This isn't to say that life was easy before A; challenges have a way of growing or contracting depending on the energy and time we have to allot to them. I had more time to work and my lessons were more polished and that is a huge plus. I had time for reflection. Now, however, every minute has to be accounted for, and there is an acute awareness of all the tasks I am ignoring as I engage with the present one. I budget "A time" in the early mornings to remind myself that for at least that hour, she is priority. I allot "us time" at the end of the day so I can connect with my husband, assuming he isn't asleep by then. And yes, Legion is coming on WoW today, and I will have to allow myself at least an hour tonight to log on and see what the expansion holds for us nerds.