K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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Daniel Lunk
Date created
October 2010
Flash Video
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In the classroom

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This video uses expert interviews and classroom footage to explore some of the conditions that lead to a deaf student’s success in an inclusive setting. Topics include the importance of teacher expectations, the role of family background, myths about deafness, the benefits of learning about the individual student, and modifying classroom activities to accommodate deaf students.

This video is one in a seven-part series about educating deaf students in the inclusive classroom. The other videos include:

The videos are associated with the article “Deaf Learners and Successful Cognitive Achievement.”


Kathy Metzer (00:08)
I believe that every child can learn, even if they come with multiple disabilities with that deafness, or they come and they are just deaf.  But I think they all can learn, somehow, some way.  So we work hard to try to make that happen.
Kathy Metzer [talking with students in classroom, using sign language and speech] (00:27)
Why do you think that Granddad wanted to walk to a high hill?  Why not low hill? 
Student [in sign language, translated by Kathy] (00:39)
Because the high hill we can stand and see everything below.  If it’s a low hill, you won’t be able to see because of the trees and everything. So, my favorite, it’s best — Mole says — my favorite. We go up and walk.
Kathy Metzer (01:03)
Student [in sign language, translated by Kathy] (01:04)
The beautiful trees, we walk for a long time.
Kathy Metzer [in sign language and speech] (01:11)
Very good!
Martha Overman (01:13)
I wish that all teachers knew that deaf students are very capable.  And just to hold them to the same expectations as they would any child.
Ms. Dickson (01:23)
Okay, and how about over here?  Who wants to share?
Student [answering in sign language, translated by an interpreter] (1:34)
I think he’s in the middle of nowhere and he’s just having dreams.
Ms. Dickson (01:36)
Any particular dreams?
Student [answering in sign language, translated by an interpreter] [01:42]
Maybe he’s in like a boat or something, and he gets shot out of it and into a tree.
Ms. Dickson (01:57)
Student [answering in sign language, translated by an interpreter] [01:57]
And he wakes up and sees where he is, he looks around, doesn’t know where he is.
Ms. Dickson (02:01)
Alright, let’s, okay, let’s see.
Martha Overman (02:04)
Treat them just like any other child; if they’re not paying attention, if they’re not doing what they’re supposed to do, you know, the teacher needs to treat them just like everybody else.  Sometimes I think people think “Oh, it’s the poor deaf child” and they tend to give them a lot more room when it comes to discipline and stuff a lot of times. And also academically.  Most of the children, not all, but a lot of the children here have pretty good language and are doing very well in the classroom.  Just, you know, try to remember to treat them the same you would any other child as far as what you expect from them academically; homework, reading, their math, anything else with the other classes.
Mary V. Compton, Ph.D. (02:46)
The most important thing is to have high expectations for the deaf students.  Although deaf students are extremely individual in terms of the previous background that they’ve had, whether or not they’ve had any type of early intervention, does the child come from a home in which the parents know signing, if they’ve selected signing for the child, does the child come from a background where English is not the child’s home language.  So there are many different factors that are involved in thinking about what’s appropriate for a deaf student.  The family, of course, is the biggest determiner of that, in terms of mode of communication, and family support.  But I would say generally for a regular classroom teacher to have high expectations of a deaf student.  But realize that deaf students enter schooling with different types of knowledge, different types of experiences.
Kathy Metzer (03:36)
I think the regular classroom teacher, in order to educate the deaf student, really needs to know about that student, just like she would the hearing students in the classroom, and get to know the background of the student, because that plays an important role when the child comes in day after day.  I also think it’s important for them to learn about Deaf culture, and what that brings with the child, as well as deafness itself.  You know, how greatly deafness impacts the language with the deaf child.  The regular teacher needs to learn about the mode of communication that the child may use.  Some of our students use American Sign Language, some of our students it’s more Pidgin, but it would be important for them to understand that there is a difference.
Mary V. Compton, Ph.D. (04:32)
I would probably advise a regular classroom teacher to consult with the teacher of the deaf, who probably has the primary information about the student.  I do think that it’s very important that the regular classroom teacher knows, what are the child’s interests?  Is the child interested in sports, what types of activities does the family do, because that way, you could make some real life connections and lessons to what the child is interested in, and therefore, it’s going, the information, the heavy academic information is going to be more accessible to them, and more relatable to them.
Martha Overman (05:08)
When I’ve taken sign language classes a lot, one of the first things they did was kind of to dispel a lot of the rumors people think about deaf people, you know, that deaf people can’t drive, they read Braille, or they think, you know, there’s just a lot of silly little things that often times people don’t know or don’t realize.
Kathy Metzer (05:25)
I had one regular ed teacher who did share that, you know, she didn’t realize how often deaf — profoundly deaf — kids will make little noises.  And, you know, I was like, “that’s good to know,” because then if we do have a teacher who has never had a deaf child, it’s good to let them know, “well, they might make these little noises because, you know, they’re not totally silent.”
Kathy Metzer [in classroom] (05:50)
Ask Ryan.
Kathy Metzer (05:51)
We do a lot of teaching the pragmatics of language, you know, what’s appropriate to say, what’s not appropriate responses you give to people for questions they might ask.  We do lots of role-playing and try to work on the social skills, because they have to be taught.  Some of the other factors are really learning the child as an individual.  Some of our children need just a little bit, some of our children have greater needs.  And that, you know, the regular ed teacher knows what those are and is sensitive to that.  And some of it we learn by doing.  Some of the grades they may play a variety of games to learn concepts, like Jeopardy and things like that, so we’ve learned that in order for the deaf student to be successful and to participate, you’ve got to give the lag time, because the interpreter has to sign some things, and so we change how you might play the game, or we, the teacher might have to count to three before anyone can push the buzzer.  So, you know, I find the willingness of a teacher to make those changes, to accommodate, that I have a child that has special needs in the classroom.  That is just a great thing.