[NOBE-L] Questions about teaching and student teaching

Humberto Avila humberto_avila.it104 at outlook.com
Tue Apr 21 18:20:17 UTC 2020

Dear Jackie,

The concerns that you have are very valid, even from someone who is a teacher of Blind students like myself. My name is Humberto and I have been a TVI for the past couple of months. I have a B.A. degree in education, and like you, I've had to go through many field experiences to get going.

I have been to many K-12 classrooms, some just to observe. Teachers are mainly welcoming, and I was lucky that in my college, every professor I've had was awesome.  Sometimes, though, it was assumed that I could not do many of the things that other teacher candidates were doing, such as setting up materials and doing handouts, so they didn't make me do it as the other classmates did it.  Also, I've been in some classrooms where, sadly, there were students that asked me questions and acted as if I was a "weird" person, thereby perpetuating the same misperceptions of Blindness that we often do not like being perpetuated.

Like you, I often turned in my assignments, underwent professional workshops in classroom management and read many books that often had me asking 20 times more questions than I had originally, because those are always, in my opinion, set out and targeted only at sighted teachers, and taught the use of visual stimuli, content, and behaviors. How am I supposed to feel the eyes of a pack of kids when I say, "1 2 3, eyes on me?" How do I hear the hand's bones raddle upon a student raising their hand? Luckily I deal with students one on one, so don't have to deal with this issue, but, I totally would understand your frustration with these curricula. I don't think is fair to say they are promoting inclusive learning for all, but there is no inclusion for all facilitators of inclusive learning.

I think you should read Eric Weihenmayer's book, "No Bariers." You may know him as the Blind person who successfully climbed Everest, but he was also a successful Elementary School teacher working with sighted children back in his day. In a couple chapters he discusses in vivid detail how he did his job, and he has some great strategies that I think can help you.

Take care and please feel free to reach out when you need it.



“Positive thinking leads to a positive attitude which leads to positive actions which lead to positive outcomes.”
— ME

On Apr 21, 2020, at 7:46 AM, Mikaela Stevens via NOBE-L <nobe-l at nfbnet.org> wrote:

Hi Jackie,

It is okay to have questions and concerns...what matters is what you do about them. I commend you for searching for solutions instead of giving up.

I have been teaching grades 1-3 at public Montessori schools for 3 years. The most important thing is to have core confidence in yourself! I have some strategies that I am willing to share with you. I also believe it is important to be resourceful and think outside the box when new challenges arise-and they will.

Please feel free to email me off this list and we can set up a time to talk over the phone.


On Apr 21, 2020, at 5:26 AM, Tara Abella via NOBE-L <nobe-l at nfbnet.org> wrote:

Hi Jackie,

These are all great questions, and questions I had going into student teaching. I student taught in first grade with 44 students, and in a special ed placement working with students from kindergarten through eighth grade. I currently teach second grade at a state school for the blind, but I am still responsible for using the technology, setting up the classroom, grading printed papers, and most of what you mentioned. Please feel free to reach out to me, and we can set up a phone call to discuss these questions and any other questions you may have if you would like. There are absolutely workarounds for all of your concerns, and I’m happy to help you in anyway I can.

Best wishes,

Tara Abella

On Apr 20, 2020, at 11:52 PM, Jackie Larrauri via NOBE-L <nobe-l at nfbnet.org> wrote:

Good evening,
My name is Jackie Larrauri and I am finishing up my senior year at
university and will be starting my MAT in the fall. I have not posted
on this list for a long time, but have a few questions to ask. I have
been in two preschool placements and one first grade placement. Most
recently, I was in a third grade placement that was cut short. After
being in these placements, I have more questions about teaching,
especially for those teaching in the general education or inclusive
elementary classroom, though I would love advice from anyone.
I've been having many doubts about teaching as a blind person and
while I can find various tips for first year teachers and student
teachers, these are all from a sighted perspective. While my passion
has always been to teach early elementary in the general education
classroom and not students with visual impairments, I have become more
discouraged as I have been in these placements. I would love to talk
with a blind teacher if at all possible in more detail over the phone,
but I have also written some of my questions and doubts below.
1. How do you organize your printed papers--either those you need to
give out as assignments, those you get from administration, parent
communication, and papers to grade.
2. How do you grade papers from all subject areas? If you teach in
kindergarten or first grade, how do you grade handwriting?
3. How do you teach handwriting? Reading? Math? Do you use a white or
chalk board?
4. How do you incorporate technology into your classroom?
5. How do you manage fire drills or field trips?
6. I've seen a lot of videos on creating lesson plans, classroom
labels, organizing a classroom library, and creating powerpoint or
Google slides lessons. How do you create these materials? I have been
playing around with powerpoint and Google slides, but can't seem to be
able to create pretty labels or slides because the picture is either
not in the shape I want, the rotation or size are wrong, or the text
is too big or small. If you don't create all of your own lessons, how
do you access materials sighted peers make or those off of sites such
as Pinterest or TPT? How do you laminate or cut out your own lessons,
such as when creating math games or centers? How, if at all, do you
incorporate dry-erase activities and know students are not playing on
their boards or messing about?
7. How do you set up your classroom on your own, making sure it is
visually welcoming and inviting, bullitin boards are straight, and
everything is in place? Similarly, how do you create anchor charts or
learning targets/intentions to display?
I appreciate any insights you might have about these subjects. As I
said, I would love to discuss these questions and doubts further with
anyone who is willing.
Jackie Larrauri

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