Seeing Them Make Those Discoveries

“…because they don’t have access to the language like everybody else does. They don’t get that incidental learning from just overhearing something and pairing that to their experiences.”

Produced by Rich Elliott

Transcript for Seeing Them Make Those Discoveries

I am a teacher of the deaf and hard-of-hearing with the Northwest Indiana Special Education Cooperative. I started out teaching in Gary. Had the thought that I would move to somewhere else after my dad passed away, so I went to Georgia for a year, hated that, because I am strictly a Midwest girl, I cannot do anything south of Nashville, I know that now. And so I came back, went back to Gary for another couple of years, and then as the numbers decreased, the number of kids that they had who were deaf and hard-of-hearing in the Gary schools, I went to the Northwest Indiana Special Ed Cooperative because they service, at the time, they had ten different school districts, so there was a lot more job security there. We would always have a number of deaf and hard-of-hearing kids. So I’ve been doing this, this is my 21st year.

My workday is, it’s kind of varied because I’m an itinerant teacher, so what that means is, because we at this time, we have eight member school districts in our cooperative, so I go to the students. It’s the thing, the trend now is to mainstream a lot of students, so I may have just one student in an entire district that’s deaf and hard-of-hearing, so I may have some students who – I may be at a preschool with a three-year-old in the morning, and then in the afternoon I have to go work on some transition planning for a student that’s about to graduate from high school. I can be in five different school buildings in the course of a day.

The biggest challenge for me in teaching deaf and hard-of-hearing students is keeping up with the technology. I have a student that’s learning American Sign Language, but that’s not his primary mode of communication. So of the students that I have on my caseload, they’re all spoken language, so they all have some type of technology, some type of hearing aids, they have Cochlear implants now, and so it’s just figuring out what’s the best type of technology to help them in the classroom because a lot of the classrooms now have laptops, Chromebooks, they use a lot of smart boards, and so just making sure that the students have access to that.

Some of the joys of my work is when you see students make connections of things that you think is just so normal and everyday, but it’s like something new to them, something as simple as, if I take this blue crayon and color, and then I color a yellow crayon, look, it’s magic—it turns to green. I had a student and that just like blew his mind, just stuff like that. So for a whole week, that’s all we did was just color and just mix colors. Seeing them making those discoveries and those connections because they don’t have access to the language like everybody else does. They don’t get that incidental learning from just overhearing something and pairing that to their experiences. They go through that, and just kind of seeing them, like, “Oh, that’s what that is,” that’s kind of cool.

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