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Why We Must Make Our Work Visible

            As a teacher of the deaf, I know
what I’m looking for when I observe in a classroom. I’m tuned in to how my student
is responding and interacting, and I’m always taking notes both mentally and in
my notebook. I can scan a piece of student writing and fairly quickly identify
the missing language structures that I need to target in my sessions, as well
as the ones my student has begun to carry over. I can look at my students’
responses on a test and know whether it was the content or the phrasing of the
question that threw them off. I notice either the hesitation or the confidence
when there’s an equipment malfunction and my student has to implement the
advocacy strategies we’ve practiced.

I constantly look for ways to communicate my work and observations to the
teachers and other professionals in the schools—with varying degrees of past success.
When the students I work with struggle academically or socially, teachers often
think that I can work some magic in my individual sessions and fix it.
When strong students struggle, teachers often think I’m
exaggerating a problem because, “She’s
getting all As,”
or “He never
complained to me about not being able to hear. I think it’s fine.”
And middle-of-the-road students suffer too. “Well, the whole class is struggling with
that concept,”
and “He just doesn’t
try. If he put in some effort he’d be able to do it,”
are not uncommon

This year I’ve strived to make my work—my very specific
strategies and tools—visible. It’s no easy task to take what is in my head and
make it a physical, tangible item to share with other professionals! Rather
than just verbally communicating my observations, I’ve started to photocopy and
note directly on student work samples the clauses and structures which other
students are using independently that my student has omitted. Additionally, I’m
including writing samples from sessions where I’ve provided language frames or
models to show exactly how I’m teaching those structures. I’ve continued to
write directly on the tests that I administer when I rephrase a question, but now
go the extra step to also share the language activities that I’m using to
directly teach the language that my students struggle with in terms of test
question comprehension and response. I’m very specific about targets for
advocacy, giving “homework” for my student (e.g., asking for closed captions on
media, taking listening breaks as needed with agreed-upon strategies such as
getting a drink, etc.) and communicating this to the team, specifically asking
for feedback when I’m not there to observe.
The results have been very positive. Overall, there is an
increased sense of collaboration versus my work being separate from the life of
the classroom. I’m finding teachers are approaching me more often with
questions, asking for specific input, requesting feedback on organizers and seeking
instructional strategies. One English teacher even asked me if I’d be willing
to model what I meant during a discussion of organizing group dynamics to
support my student by leading a read-aloud! It was fantastic and she carried
over the techniques that I modeled!
I’ve always believed in collaboration and have sought to
include teachers in my work with students. This slight shift to sharing more of
what I do; what I see; and how I analyze has only served to increase that trust
and communication which in the end, can only have a positive impact on my
student’s academic, social and overall success!
do you make your work visible?

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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