How I Study with my Sicknesses and How You Can Too
Over the years I have undertaken an array of different courses of study. All of this has occurred whilst I have been ‘distracted’ with one health trouble or another. It is because of the coincidence or collision of these two that I have been able to perfect the art that is the Study/ Sickness Balance. I have learned how to ensure that you can not only ‘survive’ the period of time in which you study, but that you can thrive in this time. If you feel confident and ready to give my Study/ Sickness Balance a try, read below.
Equity vs. Equality
This is a concept everyone thinks they understand and apply well, but most are wrong. Equality is giving everyone an equal opportunity. Equity is giving everyone what they need as an individual to equally access an opportunity. Equity is what will save you at your education institution. It is why we have ramps next to steps, stair-climbing machines and lifts where they are necessary, bigger toilets for wheelchairs and larger handles on doors. Every education institution is mandated by law to allow for equitable learning experiences, access and opportunities for all who enrol. However you look at it, you are going to be able to organise a way to make your study happen.
Equity and your Study
It is up to you to communicate about your circumstances. Before, or as, you begin in an institution, or following a change in your circumstances, contact the administrative staff. They will send you in the right direction. Keep pushing until you get somewhere. In every institution there are official guidelines on their equality and equity strategy. When I started at my uni (Murdoch University, Murdoch WA) I located and made an appointment with the Equities Office. With an officer parameters were established on the presumption that I would communicate my educators regularly. In this way they were not only familiar with my current health but also so they were familiar with me for emergency situations. If I struggled, I had to notify my assessors and to negotiate the terms of my study. The plan did not state why I it existed, only that it did and was approved by the university administrators. It outlined my needs and how we would all work together to meet them. These adaptable learning opportunities (Equity Plans) should be available at school and technical colleges such as TAFE upon request.
The important part of having established this proof of a need for equitable access is that you must communicate. To everyone. At the start of semester, I approach all my tutors and lecturers. In my experience it is best to approach them before lectures and tutorials/ classes begin. This is where I inform them that I have an Equity Plan and ask if they would like me to email them a copy. I briefly mention why I have it, and that is all they need to know. How it affects you and what impact that will have on your education. Be frank, transparent and concise. They may ask what is in your Equity Plan (adapted learning plan). Educators may stress that you will need to maintain open communication with them. In this regard they are right. You have to communicate with them. Not become their best friend, just a student they know the name of.
Teaching Staff and Equity
Teaching staff should provide two forms of contact details, so they can assist you. Remember they are one person doing this to a room full of people they do not know. Even if you don’t get an Equity Plan, you must tell them you require equity. It may, or may not, be visually evident. The staff are there to help you succeed. They will ensure they do everything in their power to make this happens, but only if you do too. If you have children, chronic pain, migraines or fatigue and you are a carer for family members. Also, if anyone in your family suffers from an illness which may impact your performance or attendance, dyslexic or need learning materials and technologies.
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