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Time to Hit Restart

“I’m exhausted. Like, really exhausted.”
“I hate this.”
“I have so much work that it’s… it’s mind blowing.”
“I feel like I’m running and running and running… and if I stop, I’m going to crash.”
This is what students said to me recently. One day, every student that I saw cried. This level of stress is not sustainable. Teachers are overwhelmed. Parents are stressed. Students are confused and lost and picking up on all the negative energy from adults. Remote learning is hard. In-person learning is hard. Hybrid is hard. It’s all just hard. 
Over the weekend I thought about what students were saying. We can’t go on like this. I’ve never worked so much in my life and felt like I was accomplishing so little. I can relate to every single comment above, because I feel the same way. I decided this week to hit restart. Scrap everything I’ve been doing and start over. 
Here are my tips for a much-needed reset. 

Address Priorities and Access Needs
For my students and families who are feeling overwhelmed with remote learning, we’ve communicated with teachers about prioritizing work. Many students have an accommodation for reduced workload anyway, so this is absolutely the time to implement that accommodation. Each of my remote students completed the CAVE with me, a tool used to assess student access to remote instruction, during our remote sessions so that we can better understand and address access needs for remote classes. The CAVE results were shared with teachers, either by me or by students directly. 

Determine What’s Working and What Isn’t 
For my students who are feeling lost with in-person classes due to access issues related to PPE, distance and scheduling changes, we’ve sat down this week to create organizers of what is working well and what is not working. These organizers were shared with the educational teams. Simple changes—such as allowing my student with hearing loss and her partner to work in the hall—have alleviated the stress of her attempting to communicate with a peer, wearing masks, six feet apart, in noisy classrooms. 
Get Creative and Incorporate Movement Breaks
And for myself, I’ve quickly remembered how much I struggle to sit at a computer all day. We’re itinerants—we all signed up to MOVE and travel! I did one session outside in the woods near my house. My student was studying biomes and I knew we’d be going over that content during our lesson. He was so excited to play, “Which Biome Did Ms. Stinson Visit?” (the deciduous forest ☺ ) to break up the monotony of remote learning. I’ve built movement breaks into all of my remote sessions this week, whether it’s a dance party or a “Go Find” activity encouraging students to move around. 

This is not a normal school year. We need to reevaluate the purpose of school, of education and of our sessions. While I will certainly address the IEP goals and objectives as I always do, it is equally important to really hear the feedback from students and adapt accordingly. I needed to hit restart. Maybe you do, too. 

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.

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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