Last Updated: July 23, 2002
Entry 4: Documented Accomplishments
Contributions to Student Learning
I teach self-contained classes of Biology, Practical Geometry, Secondary Transition Experience Program (STEP), Transitions (a class that focuses on high school decision-making, study skills, and self-awareness) and Career Exploration to deaf and hard of hearing high school students. I serve as case manager for six students and act as the liaison between school, home and our deaf program for these families. Our program serves twenty-eight students with hearing losses in a mainstreamed building of 2060 students. My students come from districts all around our area, and some students live as far as 30 miles from our building. Our program philosophy regarding communication is that Total Communication (T. C.) be used. This means that I speak, sign English and allow for speech reading. I do whatever I can to provide a clear message to students even if I must break down the English and sign to a level that can be comprehended. Coordinating communication with my students, their families and their Deaf community are essential as language is so difficult for many students with hearing losses.
The nature of my first accomplishment is that I have served as the building liaison for the Chicago Hearing Society’s ARMED Program (Adult Role Models for the Education of Deaf) for the last five years. Each year I contact the program director and request deaf adults to come to our school and speak about their lives, careers and educations. These adults are part of the Deaf community in the Chicago land area and participate in Deaf culture in various ways. During one class period a month I gather as many of our students as are available in a classroom and the presenter and program director, who is also deaf, share about their lives and allow time for questions from the students. The program director is also the Youth Activities Coordinator for the Chicago Hearing Society so my students meet her and are notified of any upcoming activities for deaf youth in our area.
This accomplishment is significant because my deaf and hard of hearing students belong to a community of other deaf and hard of hearing individuals with whom they have little or no contact. Most students with hearing losses are from hearing families who do not socialize with deaf people, and because deafness is a low incidence disability the students rarely have children or adults like them in their home communities. Giving up one class period a month is well worth what the students gain in understanding about others in their deaf community. My students feel isolated from others peers and role models who are like them and often do not feel that they can succeed in education and careers. Many of my students do not see themselves following in their parents’ footsteps because they are different from their parents. Without adult role models many deaf students have low goals for themselves in the future. These deaf adults share their experiences growing up in hearing and deaf families, their frustrations with communication and their disability, and their education and career choices in order to help convince my students that being deaf is okay, and they can be successful. The students look forward to our ARMED visitors each month, and are always excited when we see the program director or other deaf speakers at other deaf community events. It is especially powerful when my deaf students relate to me that they always wanted to do particular things in their future but didn’t think they could because they were deaf, but following an ARMED presentation they know that those goals are possible. Developing these personal connections to others with hearing losses is essential to improved self-concepts and positive outlooks on their futures.
The nature of my second accomplishment is that for the past five years I have been co-sponsor of Junior National Association of the Deaf (Jr. NAD) club at my school. Jr. NAD is the youth division of National Association of the Deaf (NAD). My co-sponsor and I organize and participate in monthly social activities aimed at getting our students together outside of school to meet other deaf high school students and to provide some recreational choices. Some examples of our activities are: we have attended homecoming events, played laser tag, gone rock climbing, gone Christmas shopping, played sports with other deaf high school programs, gone to theatres with open captioned movies, participated in an annual deaf volleyball tournament, toured the Chicago Auto Show, and had video and pizza parties. I poll the students each month to see what interests they have. I produce and send home a parent permission letter in addition to posting the activity on our program “Silent News” bulletin board. I chaperone the monthly activity and provide transportation for students who do not drive. Parents pick their student up following the activity. Upperclassmen in our program act as club officers, and I work with them to develop leadership and organizational skills.
This accomplishment is significant because deaf students are isolated in their home communities and need the opportunity to socialize with their deaf peers and to participate in activities that provide appropriate communication. Although our program has self-contained classes many students are mainstreamed throughout the day and the students do not have a chance to socialize with each other. Because of the distance the students live from school and the special education bussing that is required students do not get together with their deaf peers after school like their hearing counterparts do. Many students do not participate in after school sports and activities because of communication issues even though interpreting is provided. Families do not always seek out deaf socialization activities for their children because of a lack of knowledge of people and need. This club provides a place for my students to be themselves in an open communication environment. They are provided experiences they have never had and meet deaf high schoolers from all around the Chicago area. There is nothing more rewarding than to leave an activity and to see the phone numbers that students have collected at an outing of “new” friends. It is eye opening to view my students outside of the classroom and to meet parents, sometimes for the first time, as they pick up their child following an event. I truly get a feel for the struggle with communication in my students’ home lives, and observe strengths and weaknesses in activities outside the academic classroom. I can teach social and interpersonal skills during these activities that no one at home is able to communicate to them. Skills of responsibility and communication are needed for the students to be able to participate, because forms must be turned in, money must be brought in, and transportation arrangements must be made. Students who may struggle with these skills in the classroom usually are able to complete all the necessary arrangements for participation. I teach my students that it is it is important to be well rounded and participate in extracurricular activities, so I feel it is essential to provide an extracurricular activity for my students to use on college and work applications. The students seem grateful that my co-sponsor and I take the time and effort to provide this club for them and look forward to each month’s outing.
The nature of my third accomplishment is during the 2000-2001 school year I assisted my sophomore and senior English students with hearing losses in producing a web page to share their written work with their families and communities. The six students selected topics of work found in newspapers and named our web paper RUSH: Read Us Streamwood High. Personal interviews, book reviews, poetry, their best memories and editorials on school policies were selected. Each written piece was written, proofread and revised on computers. Using Great Page software the students took turns being the editor as they selected color themes, fonts, and an overall design scheme for their web page. We uploaded the pages to Great Page and were given our URL. The students took this URL home and accessed the site with their parents and friends. I asked them to return comments from home and surveyed the students about their interest in the project. I shared the URL with English teachers, the technology coordinator and other deaf educators in our building and asked for their feedback.
This accomplishment is significant because although guiding students in the use of technology is not in my job description I feel this is essential to their future success. The benefits of involving technology in my students’ work include increased motivation, improved revision skills, heightened pride and visibility for our deaf program. Deaf and hard of hearing students do not always share their work with their families and friends because communication at home is not always effective or sufficient. It was my intention to have an avenue for parents, friends and others to see and respond to my students’ work. I wanted the students to feel a sense of accomplishment using technology and pride in their written work, and I felt that a class web page would be a way to fulfill both of these goals. A class web page provided public affirmation to the students of their work and skills while providing the students with a “ta-da” moment when their work was on the web.
The nature of this next accomplishment is that in the summer of 2001 I developed a PowerPoint presentation that is to be placed on our school server in order to “in-service” our mainstream teachers about deafness and its educational ramifications. Teachers will be able to view this slide show at any time and can follow its many links if they desire further information on any topic. In this presentation I included information on our special education cooperative, rights and responsibilities of included students, interpreters, mainstream teachers, and case managers, information on hearing losses, audiograms, and assistive technology, the educational ramifications of differing levels of hearing losses as well as links to sign language and other deaf sites. Once server space is allotted and password protected I will announce through our teacher daily announcements and through our classroom interpreters that it is available for use by anyone in our building who would like information on our students with hearing losses.
This accomplishment is significant because for fourteen years we have had a difficult time finding a convenient and comprehensive way to educate the staff in our building about our program and students. We have tried before and after school meetings, which resulted in low attendance. We have tried to do personal in-services with each of our case management student’s teachers, which resulted in too many meetings for each of us and little time to truly discuss the issues. We have asked for building in-service time but were denied because as part of the special education cooperative we are not district employees so our influence is low. We tried stuffing teacher mailboxes with printed materials, which dealt with hearing loss and educational issues. We know that many teachers did not read the pages of information we gave them, as they are overwhelmed with information at the beginning of the year. We tried to target new teachers, but sometimes found that they were better prepared to deal with included students than some of the veteran teachers in our building. The PowerPoint in-service will provide a way for teachers to individually, on their own time review the material. The names, office numbers, and phone extensions are provided for anyone who has further questions. Each slide frame contains a smaller amount of information than the printed pages we were sending out. Teachers, lunch ladies, bus drivers and all other staff who have contact with our students can peruse the slides for the information that is pertinent to them. Included students in mainstream classes will benefit from the new knowledge of their classroom teachers. Teachers will better understand their role, the role of the interpreter and student and my role as case manager. Hopefully this will solidify the team of individuals who work to educate the deaf child and enrich his or her educational experience.
The nature of another accomplishment that I have participated in every year in the past 5 years is serving as cooperating teacher for student teachers. In Illinois we are fortunate to have three universities that offer teaching training programs in deaf education: Northern Illinois University, Illinois State University and Mac Murray. Each year I am asked by my program supervisor to mentor a student teacher and volunteer my time to help evaluate a future teacher’s progress. The student teacher observes my teaching, gathers information about the students, school and program, assists in the teaching of my lessons, plans lessons and units and finally teaches independently. On a daily basis I conference with this university student about his or her strengths and weaknesses, suggestions on written plans, expectations in my classes and students’ differing levels. On a weekly basis I complete a written evaluation and share this with the student teacher. The university supervisor makes at least four visits during the nine-week assignment, and I normally conference with this person each time.
This accomplishment is significant because there are few programs which service deaf and hard of hearing students. In order for student teachers to fulfill their certificate requirements and degree programs cooperating teachers are necessary. I also feel that while many students attend state schools for the deaf the majority of students with hearing losses are in mainstreamed programs like mine. It is important that the mentoring of university students occur in situations that they are likely to be employed. In our program our program has employed many student teachers and the students benefit because these individuals are all ready aware of building rules, program philosophies, and student needs. While self contained students are best served in our small classes taught by our team, this situation does not allow students to experience a variety of teachers, signing and methods. Having a student teacher each year provides my self contained students with another “teacher” with whom to interact. The rapport my students develop with these university students sometimes causes improved performance, motivation and effort at communication. While the student teaching is teaching I have the opportunity to see my classrooms from the outside. I better my skills while mentoring the student teacher on his or her methods. I sometimes alter my teaching methods during certain units if the university student creates a more successful approach. The reflecting I do in order to teach another person what I do on a daily basis causes growth and change that is beneficial to my students with hearing losses. For as long as there are deaf students who require self contained classes it is important that I continue to help develop the teaching force needed to educate these students.
The nature of this next accomplishment is participating in a co-teacher/interpreter role in two mainstream science classes in our building. In 1999-2000 and 1998-1999 I had four students who had were mainstreamed for Biology and Physical Science because it was felt by their families and teachers that they would benefit from the mainstream content. However, the students’ reading levels and independent work skills dictated that they would need more assistance than an interpreter and note taker. I served as interpreter, classroom aide, evaluator, and resource teacher for these classes. I collaborated with the mainstream teacher and assisted in their classrooms so that all students could be successful. The deaf students could work in a small group with me on labs or assignments when additional help was needed, and I could step back into an interpreter’s role when no help was needed. I used my students’ study hall times to provide additional resource help. I assisted the classroom teacher in grading and other classroom duties. Each year that I participated in this co-teaching I was also teaching a self-contained class of the same title for students who were unable to handle the grade level content and reading.
This accomplishment is significant because it allowed students the opportunity to learn, socialize and perform with grade level hearing peers. This opportunity may not have been provided if I was not willing to collaborate and work with the mainstream teachers. I could have taught my own higher-level course in each subject area, but I believed that challenging these students in the mainstream was feasible if they had this additional help. This benefited not only my students but also the hearing students in the class. There were two teachers at all times available to all of the students. I was able to teach about sound, ear anatomy, recent advancements and technology that aid people with hearing losses to students who were working side by side with students affected by hearing loss. This teaming of teachers opened more avenues of sharing between our department and the science teachers. Other teachers in our building were aware of the co teaching environment and are open to similar experiences being conducted in their departments in the future. I was better able to teach my sections of Biology and Physical Science because I was involved in the daily work in the mainstream. My lower level students felt proud when they were able to replicate some of the work that they knew their peers in the mainstream class were doing. I also had access to lab equipment and materials that I normally would have to spend time to find. My students in the mainstream class were able to improve study skills, organization skills and time management skills. They developed relationships with hearing students and a teachers that they would not have had if they were in a self contained class. Since this experience these students have successfully completed content area classes with an interpreter only.