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is in full swing here in Massachusetts! Teachers have finished setting up
classrooms and are now focused on establishing routines. Students are still
filled with the anticipation that the start of a new school year can bring. As teachers
of the deaf and hard of hearing, we are immersed in creating schedules, doing
last minute orientations,, setting up FM systems, and establishing routines,
expectations, and procedures of our own. Here are a few key pieces to keep in
mind over the next few weeks:

Staff Orientations

orientations provide an opportunity for the entire team to learn how to help
our students and to ask questions. They are a critical component of our
services. While I prefer to schedule these in the spring for the upcoming team
of teachers, there are always situations that make this challenging and
necessitate that the orientation must happen in the fall. It is important to
get the student involved whenever possible. This can include having the student
co-present with you (depending on the age of the student and your relationship
with him/her), contribute slides to the PowerPoint, or create a media
presentation such as an iMovie to introduce him/herself. This link from Karen
Anderson provides a comprehensive guide to orientations.

simulations is a great way for staff and other students to “experience” hearing
loss. This link from Karen Anderson contains many resources including
simulations of a variety of losses with hearing aids, cochlear implants, and
with and without FM. I’ve used the Unfair Spelling Test with classes of
elementary students as it is interactive and I’ve found students and adults are
always surprised at their results!

Student Orientations

it is beneficial for students to present their hearing loss and needs to their
classmates. Such projects and presentations can easily be tied to self-advocacy
objectives. These presentations can be supported by books or posters made by
the student, PowerPoint presentations, or multi media presentations. Inclusion
of simulations of hearing loss and model hearing aids and cochlear implants (
when available) enhance this experience for the other students. When there are
multiple students in one building with hearing loss, it can be a great
opportunity to facilitate the creation of a group presentation. Below is a link
to a video created by my college with the four high school students she works
with. They showed the video to the entire school with nothing but positive

Important People

out who is on your students team! I keep a list in my notebook of the names and
roles of everyone I meet since it can be difficult to keep the new names
straight during the first few weeks of school. Be sure you introduce yourself
not only to the classroom teacher, but also to the receptionists,
administrators, “specials” teachers, cafeteria staff, librarian, school nurse,
IT department and anyone else you meet in the hallways! The more people you know now, the easier it
will be when you inevitably need their help later in the year.


  • Be sure you have recent audiograms and
    audiological reports for all of your students.
  •  Know who the managing audiologist as well as the
    FM audiologists are and have their contact information available (for some
    students this is the same person, for others FM is managed by a separate
  • Be sure to write down the serial numbers and
    components of each students FM system. I find this makes my job easier when
    fixing or transporting broken equipment later in the year.
  • Listen to ensure that all amplification is
    working properly and identify the person at each school who will be trained to
    perform listening checks. Set a date for that training!
  • Identify where the FM will be stored at each
    school and who will be responsible for charging it. This is often the student’s
    job but for young children or students with additional needs, an adult may have
    to oversee this task.

Share Your Contact Information

sure everyone at the school knows how to get in touch with you in case problems
arise. Find out how they prefer to be contacted. Additionally, be sure that
staff understand your role is mulit-faceted. You are a teacher, an advocate for
the student and a resource for staff. Relationships matter and first
impressions go a long way, so keep it positive and emphasize the collaborative
aspects and mutual benefits of this new relationship.

Set Up A System For Communication:

can be informal and as simple as identifying whether people prefer to
communicate over email or by phone. Some younger students may also have a
communication notebook for staff and parents to write in. Especially in the
first few weeks, be sure to include parents on relevant communication with
staff and check in with them regularly. This helps alleviate parental stress as
they are in the loop and know what is happening at school.

Have a great 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.

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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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