If you are in this situation, you may be wondering what extra preparations you should make in order to be successful in student teaching. It is important to remember that student teaching will be challenging and time consuming. Much of the stress can be eliminated if you make careful preparations far in advance.
First, find yourself a mentor, preferably a blind teacher who is already teaching successfully in your field. AABT may help you to locate such a person. Correspond frequently with your mentor. He/she can be a great source of encouragement and advice about such things as visual aids, classroom management, sources of materials in your field, effective techniques, and ways to cope with blindness on the job. If possible, seek advice from several blind and sighted teachers.
Read as many textbooks as possible designed for the age level and subject you plan to teach. This will acquaint you with what is available in your field and many different approaches and techniques for teaching your subject.
Practice until you are comfortable with using a wide variety of equipment and teaching aids. Get someone to show you how to use copiers and, if necessary, VCR's. Practice writing on the board or using overhead transparencies and flip charts. Experiment and practice with these things until using them comes naturally. Once you begin student teaching, there will be little time for experimentation. It's better to learn while you have time and are under less pressure.
While you are studying, begin thinking of how to teach your subject. Start preparing and collecting worksheets, games, audiovisual aids and other items that pertain to your subject. File these away. Later, when you don't have as much time, you'll be glad you did it.
As the time for student teaching comes near, there are many other things to do to help insure your success. If it is possible, choose the school in which you will work. An ideal school is small, easy to navigate, accessible to transportation, with students and staff who are enlightened about people with disabilities. Such a school may be difficult to find. However, in general, a small, suburban school district is usually the best setting. Most city schools are large, with more crime, drugs, and discipline problems. On the other hand, a rural school may not be much better because of the lack of public transportation. The people there may not have the exposure or understanding of people with disabilities.
Find out what textbooks you'll be using and allow yourself plenty of time to get them in accessible format. It is almost impossible to teach without textbooks in a hard copy form you can access independently.
Make arrangements for such things as readers, transportation and educational aids well in advance of your student teaching. Once you begin, you must have effective ways to do every task expected of you so you can concentrate all your efforts on doing a good job teaching.
Be sure to find out your school's required format for the clerical work you will be required to do. Then practice preparing such things as lesson plans, progress notes and grades until your supervisor and cooperating teacher are satisfied. Remember, student teaching is the time for performance, not experimentation.
Finally, spend as much time as possible in the school and classroom where you will work. This will help you become more comfortable with the layout of your school and the personality, teaching style, philosophy and expectations of your cooperating teacher. Most important, it will give you a head start on getting to know your students.
How you perform during student teaching and in college in general will determine whether you are admitted into the teaching profession. Resign yourself to the fact that you will have to work much harder than your sighted counterparts to prove yourself in teaching or in any other career. However, do not be discouraged. With proper preparation and a good attitude, you will complete your student teaching successfully and become an excellent teacher.
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