Role of the Classroom Teacher
By: Carmen Willings
Updated August 4, 2019
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.
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 known 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 promptly 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 teacher's 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 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 that 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 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.
Spungin, 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.
Sign up for free membership to access the FREE downloadable handbooks and handouts on the Free Program Printables page along with access to the Goal Bank pages. Simply click on the Log In | Register link in the navigation bar. If you haven't joined yet, you will be prompted to create a password. Below are just a few examples of the many free printable resources.
Itinerant teaching is very rewarding, but it can present many challenges as well. TVI’s must be able to work well with a variety of personalities to best support students and their teams. It is just as essential to be organized, flexible, reliable, and a team player as it is to be knowledgeable in your field. This hour-long presentation is packed full of tips and strategies from Carmen Willings who has been a full time Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments for over 20 years. This webinar is perfect for TVI's just entering the field and for all TVI's as they start the new school year!
Sign up for free membership to access the FREE downloadable handbooks and handouts on the Free Printables page along with access to the Goal Bank pages. Simply click on the Log In | Register link in the navigation bar. If you haven't joined yet, you will be prompted to create a password.
Purchase the TVI's Guide to Teaching the ECC Complete Set and immediately unlock the pages within the ECC Complete Set Bonus including bonus printables, interactive sensory stories, interactive matching activities, interactive choice making activities, job task box activities and MORE! This is my way of continuing to support you and say "Thank you!" for choosing to purchase the Complete Set.
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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."