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Making Sure We Are Teaching

           Every teacher of the deaf has
probably been asked a million times what exactly
it is that we do. After responding, the comment, “Oh, so you’re like a tutor?” is not uncommon. I’ve found myself
explaining the difference between teaching, progress monitoring and tutoring on
so many occasions and I’m sure that I am not alone!

or teaching involves explicitly
explaining and helping students practice the skills necessary to successfully
complete a task. This should be the primary component of our job as the teacher
of the deaf. For many of our students with hearing loss, lack of incidental
knowledge, gaps in schema or skill set, or difficulty with language and syntax
prevent them from performing to their full potential in the classroom. It is my
responsibility to not only teach skills necessary to complete current
assignments, but additionally, to recognize and fill in gaps while ALSO
anticipating and teaching upcoming skills. It can be overwhelming at times!
Having a clear understanding of the hierarchy of skills required for any given
task is critical to effectively teach students who are deaf or hard of hearing.

           In contrast, progress monitoring involves analyzing student work samples and
noting errors or patterns of errors. It includes classroom observations and
noting behaviors and potential barriers. Progress monitoring is also checking
off the box when a student is able to successfully complete a task or
demonstrates independent use of a skill that has been directly taught. At
times, progress monitoring can be mistaken for instruction. For example, when
progress notes indicate skills a student lacks but does not specifically state how those needs are being addressed.
Progress monitoring alone will not lead to effective progress; direct
instruction is necessary.

is also often mistaken for the specialized instruction we do as teachers of
the deaf. Tutoring generally involves reviewing or previewing content related
to class, drills such as flash cards or matching games, or similar study-type
tasks. While some general overview is necessary, we must also make sure that
this does not take up the bulk of our sessions and that we continue to focus on
the instructional component.

           For example, many high school
students have vocabulary as a component of the English class curriculum. One of
my students has a weekly Latin and Greek root word list with quizzes each
Friday. My instruction focuses on
helping her learn the roots and using that knowledge to determine the meaning
of new words. 

The vocabulary word, CIRCUMNAVIGATE, is on the opposite side of the card. This student benefits from including relevant examples as well as the provided definition when learning new terms.

I leave to her academic support team which could involve playing a matching
game to
help the student learn the words and definitions in order to pass the weekly
quiz. Theprogress monitoringportion is my tracking which words she gets correct and which ones she misses
on the quizzes and looking for potential patterns in her errors.

Latin and Greek roots at the bottom as well as color coding are strategies that help my student. 

           Similarly, students are expected to
annotate texts in most junior high and high school classes. This is a skill
that requires direct instruction. I
model my thought process while reading aloud with students, and together we
decide what to write in the margins of the text. 

is part of my process as I periodically check my students’ books
to see how they are annotating and adapt my instruction to meet specific needs. For example, I may focus on how
to help my students ask questions or make predictions within the text or, I
might teach them strategies for annotating for a specific purpose such as
related to a formal paper.

           While instruction, progress
monitoring and to some degree, tutoring, are all components of our job,
teachers of the deaf specialize in the instruction for students with hearing
loss. Being reflective about our own teaching and process can help to ensure
that the bulk of our sessions are spent on this most important component-

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.

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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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