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Practice Perspectives

Making the Transition from Student with Visual Impairment to Teacher with Visual Impairment

Jane N. Erin

Print edition page number(s) 516-516

Do you have a professional success story that could encourage and inform others in our field? Send your idea to Jane Erin at <>, and she will work with you to develop an article for a future issue of Practice Perspectives.

Many of you who are reading this can remember student teaching when you were in college. Your memories are probably colored by a wide range of emotions. Perhaps you recall a perfectly planned lesson that fell flat, a child who struggled to learn and was finally successful, an unexpected event like a fire drill or a pet hamster escaping from a cage, or a stern cooperating teacher who reprimanded you for not keeping the class under control. For many educators, student teaching is an intense time of learning; it is the first time we perform as teachers after several years of watching, listening, and talking about teaching.

For a teacher who also has a visual impairment, there is the additional challenge of demonstrating one's abilities in a setting in which most people don't expect a teacher to be blind or have low vision. Perhaps the visually impaired student teacher feels like a pioneer who must persist in the journey just because others wondered if he or she could really achieve what he or she set out to do. Not only are other teachers and students unfamiliar with the ways in which a teacher with visual impairment manages daily tasks, but his or her university supervisor has probably never worked with a student teacher who has a visual impairment. Fortunate aspiring teachers who are visually impaired will be assigned a supervisor like the first author of this month's feature article, who believed that his student could become an excellent teacher, even though he had no idea what that would entail.

This month's Practice Perspectives involves an unusual article that is written by a college supervisor and a student teacher named Maria McLeod, who has a visual impairment. Their story of how Maria became a successful teacher reflects the collaboration between student and supervisor in developing solutions to problems that arose. Maria's journal entries reveal an internal dialogue about the doubts and concerns that are experienced by most student teachers, but also an awareness that the absence of visual feedback sometimes makes it more difficult for her to know about her students. In finding ways to help Maria become effective as a teacher, her supervisor becomes increasingly engaged in observing and analyzing the responses of her students. Together they provide a thought-provoking glimpse at a student-supervisor collaboration in which both participants acknowledge they have much to learn. For experienced professionals who have worked with people with visual impairments, this article is a reminder that young adults with visual impairments need to become skilled at teaching others how to teach them.

Jane N. Erin, Ph.D., associate editor for practice, JVIB, and professor, Department of Special Education, Rehabilitation, and School Psychology, College of Education, University of Arizona, P.O. Box 210069, Tucson, AZ 85721; e-mail: <>.

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The Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness (JVIB)--the international, interdisciplinary journal of record on blindness and visual impairment that publishes research and practice
and serves as a forum for the exchange of ideas, airing of controversies, and discussion of issues--is copyright Copyright © 2017 American Foundation for the Blind. All rights reserved.


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