[nobe-l] Hello and question

Carolyn Brock mmebrock at SpiritOne.com
Mon Oct 27 21:02:52 UTC 2008

Faith and others,
    I taught high school French and English in a public high school 
for twenty years after losing my sight (and about ten years 
before).  I would suggest that you make an effort to observe the 
classrooms of teachers who have a reputation for being successful, 
regardless of the subjects they teach.  Good teaching techniques go 
across disciplines and even age levels.  A difficult task for any 
beginning teacher is to develop a sort of "teacher persona" 
consisting of techniques that work for that individual.  Good 
teachers are a strong presence in the classroom and engage the 
interest of the students.  Having supervised many university students 
in the "pre-teaching observation" and also student teachers, one of 
the things they are most reluctant to do is observe other classes; 
yet it is one of the most valuable experiences for them--especially 
after they have some teaching experience and know what the pitfalls 
are for themselves individually.
    As both a sighted and later a blind teacher, I found the most 
successful method was simply to keep the students engaged.  Just 
talking at them for the whole class period is almost a guaranteed 
disaster, with the exception of college-level lecture courses.  They 
need to be interacting with each other as well as with the teacher, 
preparing a specific task with partners or in small groups.  They 
also need the chance to move around once in a while, not just as a 
"break" from classwork, but rather as part of an activity 
incorporated into the lesson plan.
    The teacher needs to be in the middle of all this, sometimes 
directing the discussion or activity, sometimes observing it.  Learn 
to listen to the students on the other side of the room from you; the 
ones right under your nose will almost certainly be behaving 
properly.  Memorize the names of the students before you meet them 
for the first time, and use their names often.  Be pro-active rather 
than reactive when you sense that something inappropriate is 
beginning.  Often saying something as simple as, "Hey, Josh, are you 
with us on this?" is enough to draw the errant student back into the 
class activity.  If you do need to confront one or more students 
about chronic misbehavior, absolutely do not do it in front of the 
whole class.  Take them into the hall, keep them after class, make 
them give up their lunch period to come eat lunch with you and 
discuss the problem.  (Middle and high schoolers really hate giving 
up lunch time with their friends!)
    All of us who have been in the trenches for years have a 
gazillion tips, and Mary is right to direct you to the archives.  And 
stay on this list!

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