American Association of Blind Teachers

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So, you are approaching your senior year in college. You have finally completed most of the courses required for your major as well as the majority of your education classes and it is time to plan for your student teaching. What can you do to help make your student teaching experience a success? Here are some important matters to consider.

Planning for your student teaching experience should begin as far in advance as possible. In fact, as soon as you have decided that you might want to be a teacher, you should begin preparing for your career by gaining as much experience working with students as possible. Some of the ways you can gain this valuable experience include tutoring, teaching Sunday school, working as a camp counselor, assisting scout troop leaders and coaches, and teaching classes for local organizations such as libraries and community centers. Also, try to arrange for as many field experiences working in schools as part of your college education. All of these activities will help you to find out what it is really like to work with children and youth, and you will experience what it takes to plan lessons and teach successfully. Most importantly, these experiences will show you whether or not you have what it takes to be a teacher and if you really want to teach. Such information cannot be gained by merely reading books about education and taking classes. There are certain things which simply must be experienced firsthand.

A year before student teaching, you will need to ramp up your preparations. Start by learning everything that you don't know about your computer and your access technology which will enable you to produce professional looking print handouts and other visuals which you will use in the classroom. Consider learning PowerPoint which can be quite useful for classroom presentations. Schedule extra time with your college's audio/video specialist and gain as much hands-on experience as possible with the equipment and with using and producing audio/visual materials to supplement the lessons you will teach. Order and examine textbooks in accessible formats for the subjectggs) you will be teaching.
Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic
has a plethora of recorded textbooks for most subjects and grade levels.
also has textbooks for students in grades K-12. However, as of this writing, these books are only available to students in Grades K-12 and not to regular Bookshare members. A new resource for purchasing downloadable books including some textbooks is
which provides an accessible reading software application and an online bookstore with thousands of books. Also, start developing worksheets and learning activities for later use. In short, do all that you can to develop your materials, your skills and yourself as a teacher as far in advance as possible.

Six months before student teaching, you will need to start making specific arrangements for your practicum. First, carefully choose the school in which you will work if your college or university gives you a choice. Some students prefer to work in their hometown school districts which gives them the advantages of living at home during their student teaching experience and working in a familiar school with faculty that they know. This may not work out if the school is too far from your college because it would be difficult for a professor to observe you in the classroom. Generally, it's usually best to choose a school which is close to your college because it will be easier for you to travel to and from the school each day and receive support from your college. It is very important to choose a school with an open-minded faculty who will be supportive of a student teacher who is blind or visually impaired. Second, obtain and become intimately familiar with the textbooks you will use in the classroom. It is usually best to have your textbooks in accessible hardcopy formats when teaching. So, be sure to allow plenty of time for your books to be produced in braille or large print if they are not already available to borrow or purchase. A good resource for checking the availability of textbooks is
The American Printing House for the Blind's Louis database.
Third, line up the people who will help you during your student teaching experience. Arrange for two or three readers who can help you correct papers and complete other school related paperwork. Also, you may need to arrange for a classroom aide to monitor tests and help you with other tasks in the classroom. It is best not to ask for help with classroom tasks from your cooperating teacher because part of your job as a student teacher will be proving that you will be able to work independently as a teacher. Finally, plan your wardrobe carefully. If you want to be taken seriously as a student teacher, the casual dress of typical college students will not be appropriate. Dressing professionally and conservatively will command more respect from students and faculty and will help you to behave more like a teacher. If necessary, ask someone who is sighted for a second opinion on your wardrobe to insure that you will be dressed appropriately.

About a month before your first day of student teaching, make transportation arrangements and practice traveling to and from the school a few times. Visit the school and become very familiar with the building and classroom in which you will be teaching. Get to know your cooperating teacher, the principal, the office staff and all the other people whom you will be working with at the school. Familiarize yourself with the school's procedures and regulations and the specific rules and procedures which govern the classroom in which you will be working. Finally, clear your calendar of extra-curricular activities and other time commitments for the duration of your practicum. Student teaching will be grueling and time consuming and doing it successfully will require all of your attention, heart and soul.

As you can see, preparing for a successful student teaching experience will be a lot of hard work, but all of your work will be well worth the effort if you succeed as a student teacher, earn your teaching certificate and are ultimately hired as a teacher.

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