December 2nd, 2010 by Elizabeth | Tags: Accommodations, Advocacy, Children, High School, School | 2 Comments »
Yesterday, I attended a panel presentation given by a group of itinerant teachers who serve students from kindergarten to graduation (or age 21, per IDEA — whichever comes first) in various school districts around my metro area. (Students younger than kindergarten also receive services, just not from any of the presenters in this group.)
While much of what was covered pertained to the teachers’ caseloads and school districts, several universal themes did emerge over the course of the presentation:
- The number of itinerant teachers in this system has DOUBLED over the past 5-10 years, reflecting a national trend in increased mainstreaming and independence for children with hearing loss.
- Though these Teachers of the Deaf help students with written expression, reading comprehension, vocabulary, and other academic subjects, most of them said that the biggest area they targeted was SELF-ADVOCACY. Students need to understand their hearing loss and their needs, and be comfortable sharing them with others and seeking the help or modifications (preferential seating, FM, etc.) that they need. Many of the TODs said that they emphasize to their students that, while these things are guaranteed through high school, once students are in college, vocational training, or the working world, they will be responsible for advocating for their own needs… or suffer the consequences and be left behind. It is never too early to teach students to be good self-advocates. For more information on self-advocacy, see these two articles previously posted here on CIO (Parent Advocacy Strategies and Become a Better Parent-Advocate) and keep and eye out for a future post on teaching children how to be self-advocates!
- The itinerant TODs also provide inservices to the children’s general education teachers, informing them about hearing loss, FMs, accommodations, etc.. The TODs said that, in many cases, the general education teachers have never taught a student with hearing loss and are often terrified at the prospect. Once the teachers see that children with hearing loss CAN function in a general education classroom, they often build very positive relationships with the student, their family, and the itinerant TOD.
Overall, the presenters impressed me with their demanding schedules (some visit five schools a day in several different districts!) and their commitment to serving students from kindergarten to high school. If you have a good itinerant teacher in your life, give him or her a big THANK YOU tomorrow!
What is your experience with itinerant teachers? How have you established good connection between itinerant TOD, classroom teacher, other therapists, and parents?