Masks - Teachers and students heading back to class
Hello everyone! It's back to school time for both teachers and students. However, this year it is quite different. The Coronovirus is still hanging around and still causing frustrations for everyone. If you are hearing impaired, the frustrations of hearing people while wearing masks is a daily struggle. Imagine if you are a student or a teacher realizing that you now have to teach or attend classes all while wearing a mask.......the anxiety about this can be overwhelming.
I am going to share a letter written to local school administrators by a teacher who is hearing impaired and wears hearing aids. She too was suffering anxieties of being faced with the upcoming school year. In addition, she kept her hearing impairment a secret....... Here is her letter:
I have been guided to get in touch with you all to be more vocal about a limitation of mine. The reason I wanted to share this is because of my passion for teaching and inspiring others, as well as my love of the community I have at (name withheld) schools. I feel that in order for me to be most successful this year, I have to just “spit it out” so to speak! Lol
I have been hearing impaired since I was six years old. I went through all of my schooling with this limitation, but fortunately at that young age, not only had I already acquired good language, it wasn’t severe enough to disrupt learning. As I got older though, the impairment became more “noticeable.” My loss is considered to be a “severe” loss by the professionals, but that’s such an ugly word, along with the word “disability” that I prefer to just say, “hey, it’s a limitation AND an opportunity.”
I obviously did not let this limitation stop me from achieving both degrees in education and to go above and beyond in all of my work experiences. I hesitated sharing this with many of my past coworkers and administrators because of embarrassment, fear for a loss of my job, and the biggest reason: they would think I am not a good enough educator.
I now know that this thinking is warped and negative.....and that I actually have the opportunity to voice this and be a voice for others who may be struggling as well. This goes for ALL forms of limitations that others may have....not just hearing loss
I praise my work with students mostly for the positive relationships I form. At the core of these relationships is good communication. Going into this year having our communication restricted by face masks was definitely disheartening for me at first, but again, I am now seeing this as a chance to perhaps educate others on that need for a more sensitive approach to our communication and relationships with students and adults. As we enter this school year, having that bond is crucial....and now more than ever, many students and adults feel insecure. Our communication and body language allows them to find comfort and belonging
I know we can’t change the circumstances we are in but we can change our reactions. So while clear face shields are a Godsend for those of us with limitations, they are also a tremendous help for those just needing that positive relationship with their students and coworkers
I am sharing this to simply make you aware of my circumstance and to be a voice for others who also fall into a similar category but may be afraid to say something.
Students are pretty adaptive and in the past, I never had an issue communicating with them. I told them right away that if they mumble or speak softly, that I will have them say it again. We were able to come to a great understanding, add some humor, and even have fun with it. The adults are a different story though. They tend to talk while walking around or facing a different direction, or they talk from a different room, or they speak with barely moving their lips. And best of all, they get frustrated when they have to repeat something.
That’s beside the point though. I’m sharing simply because I want to promote a better understanding for the need to be patient and flexible for those who have some limitations and they may not be written on an IEP or noticeable from the outside. And voice that these limitations serve as a chance to push harder and be better. It is not a pity party. 😁 I hope to be a role model for others that we are able to achieve a lot despite setbacks
And that’s all. I appreciate you listening!