Hear Me Out Blog   

Let’s Practice What We Preach!

The
school year is in full swing here in Massachusetts! I’ve spent the past two
weeks like many itinerant teachers of the deaf: setting up FM equipment; doing
orientations for schools where I was not able to meet with the staff in the
spring; checking in with students and families; reading files on new students;
responding to dozens of emails each day; drawing up, erasing and re-writing my
own schedule and checking in with the staff that I mentor at Clarke. What a
whirlwind!

As an itinerant, one of my most important roles is that of an
advocate for my students. It’s my job to make sure that their accommodations
are implemented. I advocate for optimal seating arrangements in classrooms and
proper use of amplification so that my students have access. I help my students to understand their own
strengths and needs and to advocate for themselves with both adults and peers. I
spend so much time and energy advocating for my students that I often forget to
advocate for myself.

With fellow TODs at Clarke camp this summer

Mentoring last year, watching my colleagues, and recognizing
the same behaviors in myself, I realized the impact that this overly
accommodating attitude has on our work as itinerants. We are willing to work in
hallways when we’re told that no classroom is available. We are willing to skip
lunch or frantically eat while driving between schools in order to squeeze in
that one last student at a time that a teacher requests. We are willing to
create ridiculous schedules for ourselves in order to avoid conflicting with
specials, lunch, recess and club meetings. I have literally run from my car to
a school door, hurriedly checked in and booked it to a classroom, out of
breath, because my time between schools was so tight. In short, we burn
ourselves out.

This year, I plan to practice what I preach to my students on
a daily basis: stand up for yourself! Don’t be afraid to let others know what
you need!

So after gathering classroom schedules from my schools, I
created my schedule as usual—but this year I didn’t offer a menu of options.
Some of my schools are over an hour apart and I can’t always be flexible.
Surprisingly I encountered very little resistance when I told teachers when I’d
be there to work with my students.

And I now refuse to work in a hallway. My students are
important and my role in assisting them is important. I now have a designated
space at each school after advocating for my needs. The back corner of the library
suits me just fine. I plan to eat lunch this year. It may be in my car in a
school parking lot but it will happen. J

So join me, itinerants, in advocating for ourselves! This
year is already off to a great start and I’m optimistic that it will continue.
As one third grade student commented last Friday while meeting in our library
nook, “Remember last year when we worked
in the hall and it was soooo loud? I like this better.”
 I like it better, too. Cheers to the 2016-17
school year!

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.

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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.

1 Comment
Unknown

THANKYOU SO MUCH FOR WRITING THIS!!!!! I so needed to hear this today. I feel exactly the same way and feeling like I'm not doing enough for my students. Thank you for reminding me that there are so many other itinerants out there that are doing the exact same thing. We are not alone and what we do everyday matters!!!!!!!

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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.

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