Observations through Zoom University

From the Editor:
Shelbi Felter is an active member of NABS from the sunny state of California. She currently serves as a co-chair for the NABS Outreach Committee and the President of the California Association of Blind students. Shelbie attends Long Beach State, where she studies early childhood education (MA 2023).

The past year and a half, students have all merged into the world of virtual learning and “Zoom University”. This has affected most students, but especially those with disabilities.
My name is Shelbi Felter and I am currently completing a masters in Early childhood. For my program, and many others, the curriculum requires the student to complete observation hours and student teaching. As we were not able to accomplish this in an actual school, our observation hours quickly turned into watching videos of classrooms and people teaching and then writing short summaries on what we watched. This has been a huge barrier for me as a blind student and a future teacher, as I am not able to receive as much information from a video then I would if physically in the classroom. This has also affected certain assignments, that ask for nonverbal cues and nonverbal classroom management skills that the teachers use, these are all missed by a blind students.
Because of this and a couple other reasons, as I was clear completing my multiple subject teaching credential, I decided to put it on hold and start my masters. This way, I will be able to hopefully complete the rest of my observation hours in student teaching in a physical classroom, the way it is always supposed to be. Being physically in the classroom creates a huge benefit as you can really feel the overall vibe of the environment. Observation hours and student teaching also allow students, that will become future educators, to be able to start to fully understand classroom management and the dynamics of the classroom overall. Moreover, although this alternative assignment was not anyone’s fault due to the pandemic, I believe that there could’ve been some way of having a better alternative, such as possibly being able to participate in online classrooms, such as meetings on zoom or instruction on absolute Google meet.
Nevertheless, many students have learned during this time of virtual learning how to advocate in the world of education and navigate uncharted territory. I personally learned that it’s okay to change plans, even if that means finding new ways of accomplishing the same goals. For anyone else struggling, know that you are not alone. You will get your degree and accomplish what you want to. I encourage you to take use of the resources NABS has to offer. We’re all in this together.