February 26, 2010

What Not To Do With My Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students

Dear Teachers and Professionals Who Work With My Students,
  • Please don't tell my students that they are "bright" and "super smart" and then chastise them for making a mistake. Do not use expressions like, "Duh!"  "Hello?! Anyone home!"  "Geez, are you awake?!"  "Aargh, we just went over this, what is your problem?!"
  • Never tell my students that they are wrong. Tell them, "Good try, but this is how most people do it." or "You are almost there, keep practicing." or "Let's try to figure this out another way."
  • Stop doing everything for them. They are not babies. They are suppose to learn how to take care of themselves. 
  • Please call on them more often. They are very capable of contributing to the classroom discussions.
  • Please let me know if you have any concerns or questions about my students. Do not smile and tell me every week that they are fine and then wait until we have a meeting to bring up all of your issues, especially if you have any issues with me.
  • If you have any problems with me, come to me and tell me to my face first before running to the principal or my supervisor about me. They do not have the time to listen to you complain about how I was two minutes late one time (you do realize I drive to 4-6 different schools every day and there are usually issues I have to deal with before coming to get your student).
  • Why, after I have told you so many times that I am hard of hearing, you continue to look away as you talk to me or mumble what is said. And try not to obviously look irritated when I ask you to repeat yourself. It worries me and makes me wonder if you do the same with my student.
  • To the paraprofessional who works with my preschool student, stop physically moving him around by grabbing his arm, he is capable of walking by himself. He does not have a severe visual impairment.
I understand that teaching is one of the most demanding jobs out there and you guys do not get paid enough for it. You work very hard and I do think all of you are excellent teachers. I understand you have twenty or so other students to worry about. But, please be mindful of how you treat my students. Remember they are  kids. Try to remember when you were a kid in school. Also try to understand where I am coming from and I encourage you to please talk with me more. Please listen to me when I tell you my concerns. Do not get defensive; it is not about you, I am only concerned about my students. We need to work together. We can't do this by ourselves. I am here to support your student and YOU. Don't forget that. Any issues you have, call me and I'll do my best to help. 


Ms. (e


  1. As a hard of hearing adult who is also a substitute teacher, I really appreciate this post. EVERYONE should make an effort to look at hard of hearing individuals while speaking with them--not only is it considerate it is also good manners to look at anyone while speaking to them. Thank you!

  2. These are valuable caveats for the teacher in classrooms with one or a few deaf students among many hearing students.

    To let the teacher know that they, and not you, are primary in the child's education, don't refer to them as "my" students. Just a note in passing...unless you plan for these students to be receiving the lion's share of education from you. Some teachers will be too glad to take you at your word!

    THANKS for mentioning grabbing the student's arm...could tell you of hundreds of times I've seen that happen! Also grabbing the child's chin! Keep up the information!

  3. I want to make a point that most of the teachers I work with are AMAZING and they really do a fantastic job making sure my d/hh students are accommodated and to communicate with me. I really don't know how classroom teachers do it. This post is directed to a few teachers and professionals I work with.

    Dianrez - Thanks for your advice. It is so true! But, I know better than to say that they are "my" students to their teachers. LOL.
    It is really hard to talk with some of the teachers about these issues I wrote in the post. I have to be "gentle" yet "firm" while choosing my words carefully. It's an art, really. I have yet to master it.


  4. Great post. My son had a teacher ask his interpeter to fill out his progress report!
    Another time when he was in third grade a special ed teacher came into his class during reading time, waliked up to him and said, "You are special needs right?"
    He replied, "NO"

    The whole class heard this. Then she hands him a flyer for a parent support group for special needs kids.
    "Give this to your mom, she will want to join"
    " My mom is not interested and I am not special needs"

    Right, I want to join a group run by that clown.

  5. Holy moley! What an unexpected wise, but hilarious post this is!

    This just echoes my experience as a person who is hard of hearing and have gone through mainstreaming school and now as a teacher of the D/HH!

    Btw, I just came across your blog thanks to Sarah at the Speak Up Librarian blog.

  6. Hi Jonathan! Welcome. :)
    So you are a D/HH teacher now? Wow. I have not met anyone who is HOH and was mainstreamed as a child and now a teacher of the D/HH. We are a rare bunch.


  7. My daughter has just been confirmed hard of hearing and fitting for earmolds in 2days. I always worry how the teachers in her reception class treats her. And I feel like giving some of your points here to them...I know they have other kids too but the fact is kids like my daughter do need that extra care to make up for the loss of sense.


Keep it civil.