One day a student changed my perception not only as a teacher, but as a person. Will joined my class. Will was 15 years old. He joined a group of restless twelve year-olds. Those pre-teens could not stand still and be quiet for a second. I had a hard time with them. What I was not expecting was the fact that Will was a blind student. How would/could I teach English to a blind student among twenty restless pre-teens? I was literally in a panic! I had received no training to deal with such a situation but I took on the challenge with all my heart. I vividly remember the class before Will joined us. I had an awareness-raising activity with the group, trying to elicit what being blind involved and the difficulties a person went through. I said that our new classmate would need their cooperation, because too much noise would probably make him feel lost. I taught them how to guide a blind person (my grandmother was blind and I shared my experience with them); we had this wonderful conversation and I asked them to close their eyes and taught them for some minutes in the dark.
I remember that the following class when Will arrived, those kids had a totally different attitude and behaviour towards the class, me, each other and Will. I was so proud of them! Will transformed our lives. As a teacher I had to adapt my teaching style. I started using more audio files and he helped me move out of my comfort zone. The students learned how to cooperate and respect each other. Many times we (myself included) asked Will what we could do to help him understand a particular topic or some visual prompts. It was quite a challenge to teach him prepositions of place without using translation. Explaining colors, talking about clothing and hair styles… I’ll always remember that experience.
Will transformed our lives forever. I’m so thankful for having met him.
Anninha Almeida, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil