Tag Archive: inspiration


 

ASL_Painting.jpg

ASL_Painting.jpg (Photo credit: robert.barney)

As technology advances opportunities evolve in teaching American Sign Langauge. I am taking an online class to learn how to become a certified online educator. In this class the technology I am learning about and how it can be applied in my field is amazing. Often as an educator being complacent is a danger to both me and the students. The learning environment should be innovative, exciting and inspiring. It has been proven in numerous research that students learn best in this kind of environment. Especially now with the common core movement, teachers of all backgrounds to include core classes, electives and career technical education classes are encouraged to develop project-based assignments with a real-life relevance for students to participate in and learn from. This online training has my mind turning as to how I can apply more web 2.0 tools into my curriculum which is what students are using anyway.

So far in this class, I have learned about screen casting, google docs, presentations and more, as well as simple programs such as snipping tool that have been on my computer all this time that I never used…lol. Wow! This proves I need to explore a bit more. I have also taken a look at how Oovoo can be used as a tool in a sign language class. I never bothered to look at it before but now that I have Oovoo allows up to 12 people to interact at one time, students can send video messages, chat live, send written messages and watch YouTube videos with friends. This type of technology can open the door or provide continual development for complete online or blended (online &face to face) ASL classes. Of course there are other tools that can be used but this is a short list of examples.

A complete online ASL class maybe a challenge as ASL is a language that requires interaction more often face to face but as the world evolves and technology advances the deaf community is already connecting via web tools and online resources. The Deaf community is evolving too in methods of  socializing, techniques in education and technology to make environments “deaf friendly”.

Online learning is a trend in education that is growing and looks as though it is thriving and great success is happening. I would love for ASL to be a part of this trend that will become permanent. Even if educators considered offering ASL as part of a blended program both face to face and online offerings. This type of program would be great in to begin high schools and community colleges.

I do want to note that there are websites that have already begin using online curriculums and teach classes completely online. Therefore, it’s possible and is being done. I have not seen this yet in high schools, colleges nor universities and this is where I would like to see it begin.

So the driving question is why not?

Why not have an  ASL class completely online which opens the door for increased student enrollment?

Or maybe the class can be  blended  part online and part face to face?

What are the benefits/drawbacks of an online ASL course?

What are your thoughts?

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imagesCA8QPK11During this week, a local reporter and photographer interviewed myself and some of my students for  a story for the Redlands Daily Facts newspaper. It was such a great opportunity and experience for me and the students. We were able to share about the wonderful events and learning experiences we are involved in and the difference we are seeking to make in ourselves, school campus and the hearing and deaf communities. We landed a space on the front cover of the newspaper and on the 3rd page of another newspaper titled The Sun.

So often it seems that the positive in the world goes unheard or is ignored to pay attention to the negative going on in the world. This articles highlights some of the positive that happens daily in my classroom and how students apply what they learn in outside of class.

On a personal note, I felt good to be able to share my passion for deaf culture and American Sign Language and how the topic I teach has made a difference to some students that are connected with the class. It also gave me a bit of inspiration to hang in there because sometimes as a teacher we are at the very bottom of the totem pole for recognition and at the very top of the totem pole for blame. This article along with a select group of students reminded me of the short-term and long-term rewards of teaching. To see a students smile because they were able to sign to a deaf person, to read a report about how learning  ASL has changed their life, to hear about the college or career the student selected just because it involves Sign Language and to simply feel the passion a student shows because of how connected they are to the topic. For these experiences I am grateful to simply be an educator.

A link to the article is below, enjoy:)

Silent World Gains A Voice

imagesCAUCQE2C

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.

Kids Can Sign!

kid signKids Can Sign…..Kids Can Sign…..Kids Can Sign!!!! It’s like a chant because it is true!

I love to see little ones signing! It is astonishing at an early age when they have not formed communication (speech skills) but they can gesture (sign) word to express how they feel.

I am a child of deaf adults and I learned to sign at an early age. I remember signing more than I talked. As a matter of fact, I learned speech from my close family members, t.v. and the radio. I always tease thank goodness the radio and t.v. shows were a lot better at that time, who only knows what I may have learned if I listened to what was on t.v. today. Anything I needed I had to sign to communicate with my parents and siblings. I did not appreciate it as much as I do now. When I gave birth to my first child her grandmother taught her the signs she knows and still remembers at eighteen years old. I am thankful to my mom for giving us a gift that has benefited us in so many ways and moreover a gift that no one can take away. When my mom passed, she stopped signing as it was difficult for her to do without thinking about her grandmother. However, when you put her in a signing environment the signs flow from her hands as if it were yesterday. This proved to me firsthand that once you teach children they retain it especially if your routinely use sign language in their daily lives.

In general it has been said that children who learn sign langauge early on have less issues when comes to frustration, temper tantrums and aggressive behaviors. It also helps increases interaction between parents, educators and children.  Children also build self-esteem by making them feel capable and proud they are able to communicate. If we can start our children off on the right foot why not?

One of the best gifts to give our children and help them start off on the right foot with academics and training for future employment is the gift of being bilingual. There are several commonly used languages in our great country English of course next is Spanish and after that is American Sign Language as other languages rise and become more common, our children need to be bilingual in one of these languages, any popular language. I cannot think of a time where being bilingual has not been a benefit to me or my oldest daughter.  Teach your children ASL from birth and start them on the path to bilingual success.

There are resources below to continue your reading about the benefits of sign language and children.

Benefits of children learning sign language

Baby Signs

The benefits of sign language for all children

Benefits of Signing with your Child

As I sit here thinking about the new year and lesson planning:) I ponder on the reason why I teach the subject that I do or why I teach at all. I teach my subject because it stems from who I am.. a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults). My mother and brother was deaf, I have one brother still living who is deaf also. My mom had a personality larger than life with blue eyes and Carmel skin and a heart filled with faith. Her motto in life and for her family is in all things keep the faith. She passed away five years ago but each day feels like it has not been that long ago. I think of her to remind me why I do what I do..teach ASL. I could teach anything but ASL is my passion it is the electricity that ignites my core.

I remember our experiences growing up in a Deaf family some good and some bad but I use those experiences to make a difference with the students I work with. My mother never let anything interfere with her life plan, each of my brothers (both have blue eyes too) and stood against discrimnation..against audism to become the people who they became. My twin brother sadly passed away three years ago and he reminds me to “try life” to live and love and not regret. I share that passion with my students as well. I love them whole-heartedly as their teacher, mentor and the person who may be able to make a difference in their lives so they can make a difference in someone elses.

All in all, I strive to remind myself of my purpose as a teacher and the subject I teach. My purpose is to show the importance of American Sign Language to the Deaf community and the hearing community and to bring life to the lessons I teach. As well to make sure I empower and educate others to reach out and connect with populations other than their own despite their abilities and in abilities. Most of all, to keep the lessons of my family in my spirit to keep me passionate about who I am, will become and what I do.

question

The joys of teaching in a classroom are great however sometimes I look at my skills and wonder where did they go? As a former interpreter I had opportunities to network with other interpreters daily. I could always ask what the new sign was or a variant of one or if there was altogther a better choice to use.
Now that I am in a classroom that is more like its own world, some days I do not even leave the confines of its wall. I find that I may have to think twice before selecting and producing a sign. In addition, if I don’t network with other professionals I become reliant on various curriculum and texts.
I know that real-life experience, direct communication is best that is how native signers maintain thier skills and improve receptive and expressive skills along with other resources such as videos, workshops and other options.
So what do I do when I feel this way and don’t want to go to textbooks, websites or my routine videos???
I get out there and network, attend events, use skype or google chat to connect with deaf individuals, attend deaf organized meetings or simply go back to my roots as a reminder of how the community signs. That way I have a broader selection to offer students to include: community signs (varies depending on a lot of factors), curriculum,updated signs learned from Deaf professionals and other signs I can round up.
It can be easy to fall into the routine of classroom teacher and satisfactory skills but if you love ASL like I do you always seek wayslearn new information to improve yourself.
If you are a teacher, interpreter or fluent signer in another profession what are your thoughts how do you maintain your skills?