Archive for February, 2013


Peace Corps Director Ronald Tschetter observes...

Peace Corps Director Ronald Tschetter observes deaf students on his visit to Kenya. The students are using role playing exercises, educational videos, and other visual aids that Peace Corps Volunteers have developed, including Kenya’s first uniform sign language poster, the “Easy to Learn Sign Language Poster.” Peace Corps Press Release. “Peace Corps Director Visits Kenya and Unique Deaf Education Program .” June 26, 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Academics in Deaf education have always been a highly discussed topic. The concern is rather residential schools (schools for the Deaf) truly prepare deaf students at the same rate as their hearing counterpart. The other side if that coin is rather or not public (hearing) schools put effort forth in educating the deaf that attend their schools through on campus deaf and hard of hearing cohort or mainstreamed programs. If you toss in an additional coin the other concern is should the focus of deaf education be on vocational and life skills training to ensure students are functioning in a hearing society. The last side of the coin is for everything else in between.
The benefits for Schools for the Deaf is the school is tailored to meet the needs of the students as a whole; socially, personally, academically and vocational. Students are taught in their primary language which enables a better foundation for learning and increase complex concepts that may be difficult to clarify in English. Teachers are knowledgeable and specialize in Deaf education and have the best strategies on how to teach the deaf. Students are able to see Deaf adults as role models like themselves which encourages them to not limit themselves. Students live with others like themselves who have the same method of communication and similar struggles, they can communicate to support each other through the challenges they face. Schools for the Deaf are great for helping a child identify with their “deafhood” and be proud to be Deaf with a Capitol “D”. The drawbacks of a school like this is it can be sheltering because students live in the deaf world on an ongoing basis. It can be biased in the methods and content taught. Some educators outside the deaf community think students are not being prepared for the real world or college academics because of the lack of information students receive.
The benefits of students attending a mainstreamed program in a hearing public school is they are learning the same content their hearing counterparts are learning. They have access to resources to support their learning such as an interpreter or a note taker. Most importantly to some is that they are learning to function in a hearing environment and are not sheltered in a small world that can help them to exist in a larger world. I have met parents who say they solely chose mainstream programs because they want their children to learn to function in a hearing world. The disability-the lack of hearing will inhibit them from getting jobs and pursuing higher academics if they don’t learn how to communicate with hearing individuals and they feel mainstreamed programs support that. The drawbacks of a mainstreamed program is if the program is not well established with knowledgable teachers, interpreters and administrators deaf students may fall through the cracks if they dn not have advocates putting place best practices and programs for them. Also, regular administrators, teachers and support staff have no idea of how best to help the student besides general concepts like an Assistive Listening device or sitting the student in front of the class room.
There are pros and cons to both environments but what it comes down to is, which is the best environment for the student with the family desires taking a back seat. Which environment will the student be inspired, educated and grow in? This is what a parent should be looking for. Education is a partnership between the parent and the school. In addition, parents should support the student inside school by learning information to advocate on behalf of their child and outside of school by learning sign language to communicate with their child. I believe it is best to have  a combination of both academic and vocational education in any setting students attend. Both of these components will help to build a healthy and succesful student who will become a healthy and successful adult.

Beautiful Video

sponsored by the Alumni Association and co-hosted by the Old Farts Racing Team                       

Presents:

Happy Days Reunion Annual Benefit Car Show and Craft Fair

Saturday

March 30, 2013

8:30-3:00pm

Spectator Admission is free!

Flyer attached for more information.

CSDRAAFLYERFinal.pdf_2013a_b

car 2  car

education

education (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

Just about once every two weeks….I sit at my desk and think to myself. I never intended to be this…a high school teacher. I wonder if a lot of teachers feel this way, especially with all the changing laws, standards and classroom expectations. Oh…let me not forget parents. This may be one of the most difficult parts of the job along with what they call the political issues of teaching. I never quite understood that until I realized how students and parents have more power than the teacher. A teacher can think a student my not be a good fit for the classroom and have good reason for it but because some of our districts are parent controlled, that student stays. On the flip side of that, a student can rant and rave why he or she does not want to be in the class and does not have good reason to  and can be removed from the class on the first whim of unhappiness. What does this teach our students and what does it show teachers about their value in this education system?

My first year of teaching I thought this is not going to work but by the end of the year I was in love with teaching and with students. When I was laid off from my first teaching job I cried and began to look for jobs directly related to my degree which is a community college counselor. to give myself a break from teaching. I did not have luck because those types of jobs are difficult to obtain. A few years later I found a job teaching again at a high school. I was overjoyed to be working with high school students again. I would like to mention, over the years I have taught at the college level and enjoy it soo much but the point of this blog I hope to make is about high school teaching. Back to the story. After this past two years that joy has now become a combination of tears and joy. I am not sure about teaching at high school while I am sure about how much I like it. It bothers me that in education not just teachers but administrators and school districts do not hold parents and students responsible for their success. The teacher’s job is to provide an education and support students during their academic journey. Good teachers go above and beyond this to ensure students are receiving what they need to be successful but the rest is up to them. However, high school has become more like a hunting ground for teachers. Parents and students focus on the best way to intimidate teachers into giving their student a undeserved grade coupled with not holding a student responsible for the their actions. This is not the case all the time but most of the time. There are some students who are passing successful but for whatever reason the parent gives the teacher a hard time and there are flat-out some cases where the teacher was wrong and makes it difficult for other teachers to have a positive experience with that same parent. So many scenarios so little time.

This blog is not about bashing students and parents but more so about a realization I have arrived at. Getting there soon.

One of the most important things to do as a high school teacher is to find allies who can help you navigate the system and give you guidance on how to deal with the students and parents in your area as the culture changes depending on where you teach. I expressed to one of my allies my concern of  returning the next school year. She pointed out all the reasons why I show I enjoy teaching more than I don’t. As well as a few more tips. Following this conversation, I spoke with an administrator I trusted(funny right) but I shared my feelings as well who in turn said the moment you begin to feel like you dislike teaching and do not want to be a teacher…you should find another occupation. These two pieces of advice helped but confused me more for some reason even though the information was straight forward.

This year a couple of teacher movies were made and yesterday I watched both “Don’t back down” and “Here comes the boom” both about teachers who wanted to make a difference in their schools but employed in different ways. I remember feeling that way at times I still do. It made me think about how much I love when my students are learning and when they take the information I give them to make a difference in their lives and other people’s lives. I am reminded me of how I fight through budget issues to be creative and bring learning experiences to my students or to get my students to the learning experience. It reminded me of how….. even when I don’t want to teach I still figure out innovative ways to connect students to my lesson so they will not be as bored as they normally are. It reminded me that when a student talks to me about what they feel uncomfortable about that they trust me or when it is six period or any period for that matter and as tired as they are from trucking class to class some of them still manage to greet me with a smile and all about their day and laugh at my corny jokes. It reminds me that deep down inside despite being bashed by students and parents at times, and unsupported by administrators and the countless and thankless hours I put into what I do as a teacher….that eventhough I did not intend on being a high school teacher this is where I am. My goal is to be the best teacher I can be until the time has come for me to transition. I will always work in education as teaching and learning from others is my passion. What I have learned from being a high school teacher is stand strong but be flexible, don’t take things personally unless you need to self-reflect and get back on track and remember that parents are always there as that is their right but your right is to protect yourself using the education code and common sense (difficult sometimes) and lastly teaching is about you and the student..how can you get the information to the student who will in turn be responsible for their part and apply it to their life. Teachers educate students to be informed and productive citizens rather that be in teenage years or in adult years. We have all had a teacher who made an impression on our life and for the most part I want to be that teacher for one student or several students quantity does not matter but quality does.

Toddlers signing in-car is amazing and sooo heart warming. These two boys are signing their little hearts out! It’s funny because these toddlers can sign better than some of the high school students sitting in my class everyday (I do have some great high school signers)! Sign Language is a beautiful and expressive language and these toddlers clearly demonstrate it and remind us signers as to why we love ASL so much!

Exposure and information can be the key to feeling  more comfortable and accepting to what you as hearing parents and your deaf child may experience. This is a great video sharing perspectives of hearing parents that have deaf children. The video was created two years ago by University of Northridge. This university has a degree program dedicated to Deaf Studies/Education and has a large deaf population attending to obtain degrees. If you are a parent of a deaf child please view the video to gain more insight to American Sign Language and Deaf culture and more so to see the world through your child’s eyes.

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I LOVE YOU………..The term I love you  in English is normally used as a term of affection or endearment towards people you are close to such as family,spouses, children and close friends. In American Sign Language, the sign for I love you is used as an affectionate term as well but now more often used as a casual sign to mean farewell, take care or until we see each other again phrase. The “I Love You” sign has become increasingly popular within the hearing community and the ILY symbol is seen everywhere! Products sold for Valentines Day, T-shirts, Pictures and more.

So, in honor of Valentine’s Day don’t forget to use the I Love You sign to tell friends and family in a different language how much you care for them or even as a sweet and loving way to say goodbye.

 

I saw a great video about the use of ILY. Take a look.

ASL in family

ASL in family (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do I have to interact with deaf people??????? Yes, you do! This is what I tell my students.

The best way to learn sign language is to “dive into the deaf world”. Students ask all the time how they can receive a name sign or how to become more fluent…my response is….. by practicing and connecting with the very people whose language you are learning. What better way is there to increase your signing abilities both receptive and expressive than by practicing with deaf individuals. I understand using your skills as a beginning signer can be nerve-wracking but as I tell my students be like the Nike slogan and “Just Do It” jump right in and do your best. Deaf people are straightforward and seek to make connections with other signers, one of the key elements of the culture is communication. The Deaf community appreciates when a hearing person has a sincere interest in learning sign language and a level of respect for the language, culture and community.

This past week one of my ASL 1 students attended the Sean Forbes concert at California School for the Deaf Riverside. When she came back she was enlightened and excited about the skills she was able to use at the concert. She shared with me her experience and how she was happy when she realized how much sign language she understood. I was soooo proud of her because she now understands the importance of what she is learning, how to use it and its benefits.

I encourage students to attend any deaf event but the best events are the ones that are on a smaller scale and allow one to one communication. As students attend these events and return to the classroom they share how comfortable they felt, the signs they learned and conversations they clearly understood. These experiences are confidence builders which are great for the spirit when learning a new language and putting it into action.

I love that ASL is becoming increasingly popular but as an ASL educator and Child of Deaf Adults I want my students to understand that it is vital to connect, involve and grow in the deaf community, doing this will enhance your perspective of deaf culture and increase your signing fluency.

So…ASL students Get out there and sign!

Good Luck:)