I am a teaching assistant for a course with a professor who seems very nice in person (she is enthusiastic about the course and pleasant) but over email, which is mostly how we correspond, she is very disorganized and it's starting to cause unnecessary stress and frustration. I am trying to find a way to proactively deal with this in a polite way.
Here's the deal: I was assigned to work with her before the semester. The class has a 90 minute lab component which is the part I will be teaching. Some professors let the assistants design and teach the labs, she is giving us pre-designed labs - that's fine, less work for me. She mentioned that we (her, me, and the other assistant - there are two labs) should meet on either one of two dates at the end of August to go over the syllabus and I said both dates worked. The morning of the first date I realized I still hadn't heard from her, so I emailed to ask "are we still meeting this week?" and she said she'd gotten bogged down with other things and we'd meet the first week of the semester instead. Not a big deal.
We had our meeting, went over details, one of which was that the first lab was an orientation and we could design the lab however we pleased (in subsequent weeks she would give us labs to do). So I spent some amount of time putting together a lesson plan, finding online materials, etc. Yesterday, a few hours before the lab was to start, she sends an email saying she has changed her mind and is giving us an assignment to do instead. The assignment overlapped significantly in terms of content with what I had planned on doing so I emailed her and told her this and asked if she didn't mind if I went ahead with my planned material. She said she "appreciated my enthusiasm and planning" but felt that my lab was too time consuming and potentially too complicated. I decided not to argue with her and agreed to do her lab, but did mention in my reply that I'd done a similar exercise with my students last semester and found they didn't have an issue getting through it in a similar time period. She said she felt this was a different group with different experience, but that if there was time I could do my exercise at the end of class - she sent this email literally 3 minutes before class was supposed to start so I didn't see it in time, and it would have been a redundant thing to do anyhow.
My other issue, besides her habit of sending critical information last minute, is that whenever she emails information she can't seem to get it right the first time - or the second, or the third - she will email a copy of something like the syllabus, but then will send two more emails titled "CORRECTION" where she has changed something, like the section number was wrong for one of the labs, and then she realized the textbook edition wasn't listed correctly so each email has an updated attachment, and then she'll send a FOURTH email asking us to proofread the third corrected copy for errors! So my inbox is just full of stuff from her but most of it isn't even useful.
The other TA is just as frustrated with the last minute changes as I am and we might try to meet with her in person and gently ask if we could get information in a more timely manner - what is a polite way to get this across?