At the University of Florida, I received permission from the Chemistry Department to work as a Teaching Assistant for a General Chemistry section. At first I thought I would need a reader with me in class to read the powerpoint slides that I prepared. This proved not to be the case. Instead of using a reader, I called on the students to get involved.
Right away, I informed the class that I was blind and let them know they had to speak out and be very vocal about their questions. Although I memorized most of the information in my slideshows, whenever I opened a new slide, I would say, “Ok, I need someone to read the problem on the screen.” Students quickly became comfortable speaking up and participating in class. I always had students go up to the board to work problems, while the rest of the class and I would work through the problem verbally.
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Rather than blindness being a detriment to my teaching ability, it actually led me to create a highly interactive classroom atmosphere. I had good attendance throughout the semester, even though attendance was not required. One student told me, “This class always goes by so fast,” a sure sign of student interest. Due to student enthusiasm and academic performance, the Chemistry Department that had been so apprehensive about hiring their first blind TA actually asked me to teach again.
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