Reflecting on Teaching

Last week, I taught two sections of EN102. In the first session, the students were learning about source evaluation and finding sources using Scout. I started the class with a quiz. I felt like the students were not totally prepared for the session, but it could have been some nervousness on their part to be with a new teacher. We then did an overview of Scout. Most of the students were able to easily find their sources, but I wish I could have had a few more questions.

In the second section, the class was a little more talkative. For this class, we just went through how to use Scout and the library resources. I had them brainstorm their topic before class and generate key words so that they would be ready for our session. Most of the class completed the assignment beforehand. This gave plenty of time for everyone to research and find 3 different types of sources for their paper. Overall, I felt like this class was successful. I do like the approach of having students prepare keywords ahead of time.

Separate but Equal?: Chapter 2 of Academic Ableism

Dolmage continues his exploration of how disability accommodations do currently manifest themselves, both within the academy and within other aspects of society. He provides several examples that primarily center around the kinds of technologies designed to “enable” people with disabilities to utilize things designed entirely with their abled counterparts in mind. The chapter touches on how so often teaching faculty tack on additional provisions for students with disabilities while keeping many of their practices and fundamental approaches to pedagogy completely static. This approach quite often leaves the student with a disability in the awkward position of accommodating themselves and often results in an inequitable expenditure of effort to achieve the same level of success or academic standing as is expended by their fellow students. This chapter made me consider what changes need to be initiated to library instruction to ensure that pedagogy and lesson design put accessibility concerns first rather than continuously relying on students with disabilities to shoulder the undue burden of their own education. In my estimation, it isn’t enough to leave course design entirely to an accessibility office’s discretion of accommodations. It is important for disability concerns to be rooted at the heart of critical pedagogy, because, as Dolmage points out, disability does not discriminate.

No Disabled Students: Thoughts on Chapter 1 of Academic Ableism

                One of the things in this chapter that really struck me was the assumptions made by faculty members regarding disability among their students. Early in the chapter, Dolmage references Amy Vidali and her experience with many faculty members who had said to her some variation of “but there are no disabled students in my class.” Dolmage goes on to talk about how teachers often operate their classrooms under these assumptions. Dolmage connects this idea more concretely with the traditional viewpoints of eugenics within the university which he outlined in the introduction.

                This chapter made me think about the ways that I approach teaching. It specifically challenged me to consider how much energy I put into making my instruction sessions accessible for a group of students regardless of what information I have about their needs. While I can’t always provide an answer or completely address the needs of every student in a given session, working towards a universal design and implementing disability-considerate practices for each session will ultimately be beneficial to both the students who may need accommodations and even those who may not need them but benefit from the design regardless.