I thought that some of you would be interested in a brief description of my job as an itinerant teacher for deaf and hard of hearing children. However, to be honest with you, I am still trying to figure it out myself. I received no training whatsoever in itinerant teaching and was practically thrown into it to figure it myself last year. To help me learn more about what my job entails, I read many books on itinerant teaching and talked to other itinerant teachers.
It is a super interesting and satisfying job. It is also super frustrating and exhausting. Overall, I LOVE it! I don’t think I can ever go back to classroom teaching.
Itinerant basically means to travel. In other words, I am a traveling teacher; traveling to different schools serving various deaf and hard of hearing students (pre-k to high school).
This is my second year as an itinerant teacher of deaf and hard of hearing children.
An itinerant teacher is someone who provides educational support to deaf and hard of hearing students typically mainstreamed in regular education. I provide both direct services to some students and consulting services to their teachers and other adults who work with them. I sometimes work with my students, one on one (small group) outside the classroom or work with them in their classroom (inclusion). I may see some students only a few times a month, once a day, or a few times a week. The ages of the students I serve can range from pre-k to a senior in high school.
It is not my job to determine my students’ education. The content of my students’ learning is set by the classroom curriculum and the IEP. I try my best to make sure that my students get the support that they need to succeed in the regular classroom. When I provide direct services to my students, I am not ‘tutoring’ them. I am helping them develop skills needed to help them succeed in the classroom (self-advocacy skills, basic reading skills, test-taking skills, language skills, how to use an interpreter, how to take care of their hearing aids, etc.) and to become more independent.
I would say that the majority of my time is spent consulting other adults, doing paperwork, traveling, fixing and replacing hearing aids and other amplification devices, and arranging and/or attending various IEP meetings.
My schedule can change at the drop of the hat. Absences occur. Traffic and car problems occur. Meetings occur. I have to be very flexible. Unpredictable things happen all of the time. A lot of times I am suddenly called to another school to deal with an issue or I may have to stay longer than usual somewhere. So, it is important that I am able to keep in touch via email or phone with teachers and administrators in case unexpected things happen.
The most frustrating thing would be when I am unsure how I can help a student and his or her teacher when they are put in a very difficult or complicated situation. Luckily, I have been fortunate to have worked with people who were willing to brainstorm with me and figure out how we can best help the student. It is definitely about teamwork. I cannot do this alone. It is also frustrating when a parent makes insane demands or asks for even more services for their child who is doing exceptionally well academically and socially, and the administrators let them get away with it. When this happens, I try not to scream as I look at my overbooked schedule to figure out when I can possibly find the time to eat lunch or go to the bathroom.
I love my students and teaching others about hearing loss, Deaf culture, sign language, and such. I regularly give presentations about these topics to various classrooms and teachers working with deaf and hard of hearing students.
I also love how the day goes by really fast and it is never boring. I am never bored or sitting around twiddling my thumbs (well, except when I am in meetings or have to sit in on a boring class).
Well, that’s it in a nutshell. I’ll be writing much more about my experiences in this blog. I hope this year will be easier than last year!