ROLE OF THE CLASSROOM TEACHER
By: Carmen Willings
If you have never worked with a student with a visual impairment, you may be apprehensive about having a student with a visual impairment in your class. Even if you have worked with a student with a visual impairment, in the past, you need to understand that each student is unique and will have different needs. Even students with the same visual diagnosis they will have different visual abilities and will have different backgrounds, and have different academic abilities and experiences.
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Due to the nationwide shortage of vision professionals, it can be challenging to locate personnel. Announce a job vacancy on the Job Exchange of Teaching Students with Visual Impairments, an online listing of jobs specific to the visual impairment field.
Hi! I'm Carmen Willings. Welcome to my website! I developed this web resource to support fellow TVI's and to educate those new to the field of visual impairments in how to best support students who are blind or visually impaired. Read More
The classroom teacher is responsible for instructing the student in the core curriculum as well as collaborating with the Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI) and other support staff to ensure that the student's unique needs are being met.
The role of the classroom teacher is to manage the classroom in a manner that meets the individual needs of each student in the class. This includes promoting learning and supplementing activities, coordinating and collaborating with support staff, using a variety of teaching approaches, and adapting instruction to include all students. The classroom teacher is in charge of each student's overall academic program.
As the general education teacher, the classroom teacher is responsible for teaching the core curriculum (literacy, mathematics, science, social studies, and so forth). The TVI does not duplicate what the classroom teacher will teach, but teaches the students the knowledge and skills they need to participate in the classroom. The TVI will instruct the student in specialized areas and skills that are related to their visual impairments and are important for their educational success, such as braille reading and writing, using assistive devices, and skills for independent living. Int he visual impairment field, these are some of the areas that are know as the Expanded core Curriculum (ECC).
Communication between the classroom teacher and the TVI is critical. Discussing upcoming lessons well in advance will allow discussions on adaptations and adaptations that will be needed to access instruction. It is also critical to provide the TVI with materials in a timely manner in order for the TVI to adapt the materials into an accessible format.
If the student has a paraprofessional it is imperative for the classroom teacher to continue to have direct interactions with the student. Although the paraprofessional can reinforce instruction, the paraprofessional is typically not a certified teacher and it is the teachers responsibility to be aware of the students understanding of content. It is also important to provide the paraprofessional with clear guidelines and discuss as a team, what accommodations are acceptable.
IDEA is a Federal law that ensures each student with a disability receives a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to meet his or her unique learning needs. Under federal law, students with visual impairments are guaranteed to have the same opportunities for an education following the regular curriculum with the necessary supports and services to students ages 3 through age 18 or 21. In general, a district is obligated to provide each qualifying child with a program which meets the child’s unique needs. The primary way of providing a FAPE is through an Individualized Education Program (IEP). The IEP must include a comprehensive statement of the child’s unique educational needs, along with a description of the education and related services to which the child is entitled. As the general education teacher, it is important for you to provide information on the student’s classroom performance, how the student’s disability negatively impact them as well as which accommodations the student uses and what helps them be successful.
If you have students with multiple disabilities on your caseload, it may be beneficial to provide teachers and teacher assistants with a vision survey in order to understand their current understanding of the student's vision. Tricia Noe, a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments with over 35 years experience working with students who are blind or visually impaired with multiple disabilities and former colleague of mine has developed a survey that she has made available to print.
Spunqin, Susan. When You Have a Visually Impaired Student in Your Classroom: A Guide for Teachers. American Foundation for the Blind, 2002. This guidebook is written for teachers and addresses how to effectively work with a student with visual impairments and introduces special devices that may be used by the student.
Your positive attitude toward the integration and education of the student who is visually impaired may be the most important factor in guaranteeing the success and acceptance of this student in your class and school."