Wednesday, November 5, 2014

To Be A Role Model

It was one of those Mondays. Everywhere I went hearing technology was malfunctioning, students were upset, teachers were frustrated, and I was late all day long. Signing out of my last school, the receptionist and I joked about counting down the days until Friday; she was exhausted, too. Mentally composing the list of things I needed to do once I got home, I headed towards the exit when I was interrupted by an enthusiastic middle school girl. Beaming at me, she introduced herself, said she had seen me around the building and asked if she could talk to me about my job. Caught off guard, I agreed. As she ran off to let her soccer coach know she’d be late for practice, the French teacher approached me. “*Kara has been talking non-stop about you so I encouraged her to talk to you,” she informed me. I let her know Kara had done just that.

For the next hour Kara and I sat in an empty classroom while she asked questions about my role as a teacher of the deaf/hard of hearing. She inquired about hearing loss and hearing technology, about my educational background and college coursework, and about the day-to-day responsibilities of the job as an itinerant. I pulled a model cochlear implant and hearing aid from my bag as well as a three-dimensional model of the ear, explaining each one to her. Kara examined each piece, running her finger along the electrode array of the cochlear implant, and gently opening and closing the battery door of the hearing aid. Frequent exclamations of, “Cool!” and “Wow!” escaped her.

 Kara talked about her own interest in the field, sparked by watching me work with several students at her elementary school and the two students in her current school.  She commented on the ease with which I interact with my students and the patience I demonstrated while re-syncing the FM transmitter and pass-around microphone students used during history class that afternoon. She described her fascination with the way that I am part of the class, co-teaching, observing, and collaborating with classroom teachers.  I was impressed by Kara’s articulate questions, but more so by her observations. I’ve always worked to be a role model for my students and the teachers I support, but never gave much thought to the role I play with the hearing students other than being generally friendly. Kara reminded me that even on my worst day, someone is watching, looking to me for inspiration, and yes, my job is pretty “cool.”

*name changed

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