Thursday, April 1, 2021

Looking Ahead To Fall

Despite the many ups and downs of this school year, we are moving right along! Spring IEP and planning meetings are being scheduled and teams have begun talking about the fall. While there are still many unknowns, using what we have learned from this school year we can thoughtfully plan for the many possible scenarios in the fall. 

While most of us anticipate returning to school full time in the fall, it is not certain. Additionally, now that remote learning has become familiar, many schools have decided to eliminate snow days and instead use “Blizzard Bags,” in which teachers would provide remote learning materials in the case of bad weather. For this reason, I am keeping the remote learning plans and accommodations in all of my students’ IEPs. 

We have had time to explore different masks and figure out what works best for each student. Under “Accommodations” or “Additional Information” (depending on the format of the IEP / 504), I am writing in the specific model of mask preferred by each student. I am also adding in the need for HAT system cleaning wipes and any other accommodations specific to masks and distancing that have been helpful for each student. 

I always try to choose teachers who will make an effort to meet the unique needs of our students with hearing loss in the classroom. This piece is even more important right now. Teachers who speak clearly, explain concisely, already use ample visual supports and are comfortable with technology will have an easier time accommodating our students no matter what the instructional mode (in-person, virtual, or hybrid)—setting everyone up for success in the fall. 

Some school routines have been adjusted due to COVID protocols, such as one-way hallways, the number of people allowed in bathrooms at a time and how emergency drills are handled. I’ve specified 1:1 review of procedures and protocols in the fall for each of my students in their educational plans so that they know what to expect and understand any changes in the rules or routines. 

As teachers of the deaf, we are always trying to plan ahead for our students. Now is the time to start ensuring that the fall transition goes as smoothly as possible so we can all start off strong and get a fresh start!  

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Our Students are Children First

    There’s no denying it: the feeling of teacher burnout is real. Winter months are hard in New England in a regular school year, and the added stress of the constantly changing school models—remote to hybrid and back again—safety concerns and uncertainty are just adding to that pressure. I haven’t been writing as much here either because what more is there to say? Our students and families are stressed and anxious and tired. And so are we.

    Once again, I needed a fresh start. There’s plenty of talk about regression, education, IEP hours, goals and objectives. Who is talking about preserving childhood? This is an equally important factor right now. 
I’ve focused on play with all my younger students. Pure and simple play. I spent a morning with my preschooler washing rocks in the sink. This is an activity that would have happened in any preschool classroom pre-pandemic. We poured and measured and scooped the water. We adjusted the temperatures. We had a variety of sponges and containers and soap. We made a complete and utter mess. She was soaked, the counter was dripping, and there were puddles on the floor. My student was beaming, and I felt relaxed and “normal,” which is a rare feeling this school year.

    I got baby dolls and painted on cochlear implants for my younger students. We may be in a pandemic, but representation still matters. Students took their dolls home and some classroom teachers got puffy paint to add technology to their classroom dolls. 

    I had been thinking about the importance of childhood when one of my high school students shared with me a poem she wrote, titled “Childhood,” which was recently published in an online literary  journal (and you should definitely read it here). As one of my graduate professors once said, “The children will thrive in spite of what we do.” I’m trying to keep this sentiment in mind as I move forward with the rest of the school year: Our students are children first.  Let’s honor their need for playfulness and hoy, even in these stressful times. 

Monday, February 8, 2021

Check out the Winter Issue of Mainstream News!

by: Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech

The Winter issue of Mainstream News, sponsored by Oticon, is now available online! 

Read about learning regression and how to prevent it, learn best practices for a successful college search (particularly in a pandemic), understand the crucial partnership between a teacher of the deaf and student, discover why activity breaks matter — and more.