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Our Students are Children First

    There’s no denying it: the feeling of teacher burnout is real. Winter months are hard in New England in a regular school year, and the added stress of the constantly changing school models—remote to hybrid and back again—safety concerns and uncertainty are just adding to that pressure. I haven’t been writing as much here either because what more is there to say? Our students and families are stressed and anxious and tired. And so are we.

    Once again, I needed a fresh start. There’s plenty of talk about regression, education, IEP hours, goals and objectives. Who is talking about preserving childhood? This is an equally important factor right now. 
I’ve focused on play with all my younger students. Pure and simple play. I spent a morning with my preschooler washing rocks in the sink. This is an activity that would have happened in any preschool classroom pre-pandemic. We poured and measured and scooped the water. We adjusted the temperatures. We had a variety of sponges and containers and soap. We made a complete and utter mess. She was soaked, the counter was dripping, and there were puddles on the floor. My student was beaming, and I felt relaxed and “normal,” which is a rare feeling this school year.
    I got baby dolls and painted on cochlear implants for my younger students. We may be in a pandemic, but representation still matters. Students took their dolls home and some classroom teachers got puffy paint to add technology to their classroom dolls. 
    I had been thinking about the importance of childhood when one of my high school students shared with me a poem she wrote, titled “Childhood,” which was recently published in an online literary  journal (and you should definitely read it here). As one of my graduate professors once said, “The children will thrive in spite of what we do.” I’m trying to keep this sentiment in mind as I move forward with the rest of the school year: Our students are children first.  Let’s honor their need for playfulness and hoy, even in these stressful times. 

Hear Me Out

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.

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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.

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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