Thursday, December 6, 2018

When Everything Goes Right

You’re here! I missed you so much!” my elementary student exclaimed, racing over, his curls bouncing, as he threw his arms around me in a hug. His teacher gave me a smile and a wave from across the room as my student chatted about his current writing assignment. A few classmates looked up form their work and greeted me as well.
This enthusiasm and the welcoming smiles are not unusual. I’ve been experiencing something new this year- everything is just really working in one district. From the outside, there’s nothing to lead a teacher of the deaf to believe that it would be any different from any other district. It’s not a particularly wealthy area and the schools do not have a lot of experience with hearing loss or with working with a teacher of the deaf. But it’s become my TOD utopia. I’d like to take all the credit for making these schools so ideal, but it’s been a real team effort. J

Originally contracted for just two students, the district has now increased that contract to include several more students in the school system—meaning even more students with hearing loss have access to the support services that they need in order to flourish in the mainstream. I made a real effort initially to not just explain but also show what a teacher of the deaf does. Consult times were scheduled on a regular basis and I planned lessons for those the same way that I do for my students’ individual sessions (see my post HERE for more tips about making the most of consult time). I invited support personnel and the administration into my sessions with students so that they could see for themselves how what I do differs from what the SLP or special education teacher does. While not every aspect of the classroom or equipment use was perfect, I was able to focus on what was working and easily weave in tips for improving access.
For their part, the administration in the district has allotted time for the entire teams for the students with hearing loss to meet quarterly, while also providing coverage for the regularly scheduled consult time so that all relevant staff can attend. Teachers come to consults with specific questions or requests for feedback from my classroom observations, which makes my job easier and more structured! At the end of each consult, we create an agenda for the next consult which was the SLP’s idea and I’ve started to implement this in other schools as well since it includes the team and is not just me deciding what is important. The district has prioritized the needs of the students with hearing loss and we’re already seeing a difference in performance and confidence!
Open communication, receptiveness to feedback, mutual respect and a genuine desire to create an optimal learning environment for all students between myself and my school teams have all contributed to one of the most ideal TOD situations. I’d love to recreate this type of environment in all of my schools and piece-by-piece, I’m learning how to do that.

How do you build positive relationships in school settings?