Today my essay, “Remaking the Ideal Teacher,” goes live in the Disability Futures series of How We Get to Next. This piece is among a series of essays written by disabled writers and curated by Kenny Fries. Here’s how my piece begins:
Two weeks into my summer writing course, I stare down a class of rowdy college students. I’ve positioned my guide dog beneath the teacher’s desk. I hold a stack of handouts and wait for silence.
I don’t mind waiting. I can outlast their chatter until the students become unnerved by my wordlessness. I won’t shout over them. I’ll stand here, tap my foot, grin at the decorous few in the front row. Eventually they will all stop talking to one another, and the lesson can begin.
After a few seconds of undiminished conversation, my nascent plan is broken by a huge voice: “Hey! Quiet down! Can’t you see she’s ready to start?”
Abashed, the students shuffle into silence, some muttering apologies. “Sorry, man. Sorry, professor.”
I smile at the student sitting in the leftmost seat of the second row—he’s a dad, a former Navy SEAL. “Thank you, Keith.”
He grins back. “Thought you could use a little help.”
Keith’s booming tone impresses me. But I push his voice aside as I consider several different replies. I want to say, “Thanks but no thanks, I could’ve handled it myself,” or “I really didn’t mind waiting.” Or even, “You’re a sighted man and I’m a blind woman — and you’re older than me. Students will see you as the natural authority.” Despite these ready-made responses, I let the moment go.
Read the full essay here.
See the full Disability Futures series here.