Are virtual services right for your family, school or district?
   Hear Me Out Blog   

Cue the Awkward Silence…

the start of the year so I’m spending as much time as possible in classrooms,
observing, consulting with teachers, and figuring out what my students need in
terms of supports. Recently in a seventh grade Social Studies class, the
teacher was leading a whole group discussion about the events of 9/11. Students
were raising their hands to ask questions or share stories they had heard from
their parents. I watched in anticipation as my student raised her hand and was
then called on. “I had a soccer game over
the weekend and I got hit in the face with the ball,”
she stated
confidently. I cringed. There was that awkward pause as the teacher was unsure
how to respond until finally he called on another student and the class moved
on. Later in the week I was observing an
8th grade Science class. The topic was how topographical maps can
help us to identify landforms as well as elevation changes. A question was
asked and my student shot his hand up! When called on, he said, “These chairs remind me of my camp because we
had the same desks there.”
Again, cue the awkward silence.

           It’s not
uncommon for students with hearing loss to comment off topic. Sometimes it’s
developmental. Anyone who has spent time in a preschool or kindergarten
classroom knows that MOST young children speak whatever is on their mind-
related or not! Sometimes our students have missed the transition and are still
focused on the original topic. Sometimes they miss or mishear what has been
said due to distance or noise and the response is incongruous.

           In social situations, I often
observe my students attempting to change the topic of conversation when they
are having difficulty following or have limited knowledge of the topic. While
not always socially appropriate, these circumstances are understandable. But my
junior high students commenting this way during a whole group discussion?

           I checked in with both students after
my observations. My soccer pal stated that she had just been thinking about
soccer. Similarly, my camper told me he was thinking about camp and making a connection. My upcoming plans
for these two will have to include strategies for participating in a group
discussion. For my soccer player, I plan to help her find strategies to
identify the topic of the group discussion and think of a relevant comment or
question. Additionally, if she was tuning out and thinking about soccer, this
may be due to fatigue that she is unaware of. Structured listening breaks may
help. I will also include her teachers, working with them to be more visual
than they already are. Writing the topic of discussion on the board and asking more
direct questions so that my student can respond appropriately are two strategies.

For my camper, I want to help him identify what a connection truly
is. I have desks at camp and desks at school is an observation, not a connection.
Comparing and contrasting these two will hopefully help him to make meaningful
contributions in class.

On the plus side- my students are contributing! Many students
with hearing loss are resistant to speaking up in class at all. Now, my job is
to help refine those contributions.

How do you help students contribute to
class discussions?



Hear Me Out

The Hear Me Out blog provides unique resources for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. It's a forum for itinerant teachers of the deaf to share their experiences as they grow as professionals! It is produced by Clarke's Mainstream Services team as part of our mission to support children with hearing loss and the professionals who serve them.

View our comment and posting policy. 


About the Hear Me Out Blog

Itinerant teachers of the deaf (TOD) provide direct services to children with hearing loss in mainstream schools, consultation to their teachers, and professional development to school staff. Itinerant TODs travel to a child’s neighborhood school to provide one-on-one educational support, foster listening and spoken language development, and help children build social and self-advocacy skills. They also act as a liaison between the family and their mainstream school. Hear Me Out provides a unique forum for these special teachers to share their experiences as they grow as professionals.

Hear Me Out is produced by Mainstream Services at Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech as part of our mission to support children with hearing loss and the professionals who serve them.

Hear Me Out Blog

About the Author

Heather Stinson (CAGS, MED, S/LP-A) received her master’s degree in Education of the Deaf from Smith College in 2006 and a graduate certificate in Children, Families, and Schools (with a concentration in research methodology) from the University of Massachusetts in 2012. In addition to her many years of experience working with children with hearing loss who communicate using listening and spoken language, Heather has also worked as a preschool classroom teacher.

Heather has presented both locally and nationally on issues related to mainstreaming students with hearing loss and is a contributing author to Odyssey magazine. Heather currently works as an itinerant teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing at Clarke Mainstream Services, a program of Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech.

Our professionals are here to help.

Please contact any of our locations to learn more about Clarke’s broad array of programs and services.