Weaving Strong Connections in Mainstream Settings with Dr. Linda Lytle Transcript
Hi, good morning. Good morning. Thank you all so much for getting up so early and out of those nice warm beds. It was an effort. I was expecting snow Thursday. I wasn't expecting snow Saturday. But I'm so happy you all are here this morning. I wanted to mention that it was so nice to have a visit from a representative, because I've heard a lot about connections with your collaboration, and that's nice. That's nice. I can tie in my presentation with some of his comments. If anyone has problems with my signing or with the auditory feed, just please let us know, and we'll do what we can to accommodate that. Comment here?
>> It's easier to see your hands if you're actually behind the black --
>> So shall I stand in the middle?
>> That's much better. Thank you.
>> Good. Thanks for the feedback. And if I drift too much, get my attention and tell me to move back to the middle, okay? So I'd like to introduce myself a little bit. I know Nicole gave me a nice introduction but I like to tell you a little bit more about myself because I want you to know who you're hearing from. I am a professor in the department of counseling. I was trained as a school counselor and as a mental health clinician and I combine those two fields. But I'm also the director of a special program that trains new counselors. School counselors. With a grant from OSEP, a federal grant. And that program is really cool because it allows people to stay in their home communities, come to Gallaudet for a six-week summer program, and then continue to take classes online while they remain in their community. So they can take a class, it's two, three-year program towards a master's degree in counseling. And we've been running that for a long time. It started in the '80s and continues to run. We've added more and more online aspects as you can imagine, but it's nice because I know you all know that -- so if you know someone who's really good with children and wants to stay working in the schools, and might make a good counselor, think about our program, and send them to us, please. And thanks -- it's free. Also, so -- yes, because we have that private grant. I also work in private practice with children and adults. I've been in private practice for a good while. Right now I'm just part-time with my practice because I also teach at Gallaudet. I started as a educator so I know like many of you I've been a teacher in the classroom. I started as a teacher aide actually. Then I became an English teacher. And I worked with the special needs students teaching English and then I became a school psychologist. And I still felt like I wasn't really doing what I really wanted to do. I really wanted to do direct services with the students and so as a school psychologist there is a lot of assessment as you know. So I went into a counseling program and got my PhD, and with some additional skills I'll talk about, that I bring to my private practice. I've got three kids. My oldest daughter is an interpreter. So I connect very strongly with interpreters. Again, my oldest daughter is in Florida, but her first job was in education. And as an -- beg your pardon, she's now a freelancer, but she started in education. So I know the interpreter's perspective on things as well. She doesn't interpret in the educational arena so much anymore, and in the K-12 anymore. She does more post secondary interpreting. My other daughter is an interpreter coordinator at the University of Maryland. And my youngest is a nurse. So I think that's very, very similar with other CODAs, the oldest often stays in the family business and continues the tradition. Children of deaf adults do that, and then the younger ones have opportunities to do something outside of the field. I have three grandchildren as well. My children are all girls and my grandchildren are all boys. That was really a nice balance in my life to have some boys finally. So let me ask about you all. How many of you all work in the mainstream settings? Show of hands? Wow, that's a lot of you. How many of you are itinerant teachers? I imagine many of you are. Yep. Family members? Do we have parents and siblings here? Okay, good, some family members, great to see you. Interpreters. Okay. Nice balance of different groups of people. Mental health counselors? Therapists? Oh, good. And some administrators I'd imagine. People in administration? That's great. We have a nice mix of people collaborating. I think it's nice to have those connections because the more you know about who I am, the more I know about you, the more I can connect to you. So here's a little bit about what we're gonna do today. I'd like to review a little bit about what's happening with deaf and hard of hearing students today. Just briefly. I don't need to go into depth with you all. And then I want to share a little bit about my book, as was mentioned. I have a book that looks at deaf adults' experiences, people who are now adults, reflecting back on their experiences in the mainstream, and I like to share some of the findings that I published in my book. And I also want to talk about this concept of social capital. And by that, we mean the wealth, the value, the value in relationships, and the value in connections that we make in life. And I think that concept is very important. When we look at social and emotional development for deaf and hard of hearing children. And finally I'd like to make a couple comments about strategies and working with deaf children and deaf education in general. As our schools are today. I've got some ideas. And I'd like to hear your ideas as well. I'll give you a minute to read. Again, if you know where I'm coming from, it's helpful to understand, like, my perspective on these comments. I believe that learning is not a passive activity. There's lots of evidence from research that shows that deaf children don't learn the same way as hearing -- as their hearing peers. That if there's a deaf classroom and a hearing classroom, they aren't learning as much, even with great interpreters -- excuse me, if they're in the hearing classroom, they're not learning as much even with terrific interpreters. And we don't always understand why. Research hasn't told us the whys about it, and I believe it has a lot to do with the connections and the associations made by the deaf student. Those connections aren't being made when a deaf child is alone in the mainstream. And becomes a passive student instead of being involved in their education, involved in the dialogue going on in the class and so forth. They don't have that direct communication with the student -- with the teacher and their peers. They often have a relationship with the interpreter. But they're learn -- their learning is more passive and less involved. So I think that's what we've seen at this conference as I've heard some of the different workshops on collaboration, and I think today I want to elaborate a little bit about that passive learner. And I know you've had a lot of workshops and a lot of lectures, but I also want to provide an opportunity for you all to discuss these ideas with each other so that you can implement them and talk about your concerns and how they affect you and hopefully enhance your skills by doing that. I think coming to a conference is great to get refreshed and to get excited and to meet other people and get a chance to talk and really continue sharing. And I'd like to see more of that happening for the deaf and hard of hearing children in general as well. Excuse me, for deaf and hard of hearing children who are in general education. Social emotional skills are very important. There's a lot of research that we've seen today that says, “Yes, they're equally important as the academics and the learning.” But there is little research on the social emotional growth of children. Not so much -- not as much research as on the language learning and on the academic learning. And I think a lot of us maybe don't have the academic proof, and that what makes successful students when they have support. The more they're engaged, the better they learn. So we need to pay attention to children's social emotional needs as well. And finally, one of the things I believe is that a lot of the important learning happens outside the classroom. And if we just focus on what goes on in the classroom, we're missing that. We need to expand our scope. And I guess in summary, the more connected we are, the better we learn. “Madness in the mainstream.” There's a book by that name. I don't know if you all are aware of that book. It's written by Mark Drolsbaugh. Do you know him? I'm seeing some heads nod. He's a school counselor at Pennsylvania school for the deaf. And he graduated from our program as well. He's an awesome educator. It's a great book. He's written several books in fact. And his most recent one is called "Madness in the Mainstream" and I recommend you give it a read if you haven't yet. His book is good for fathers, because we know sometimes those fathers of deaf children aren't as engaged as we'd like them to be, so it might be a good book to recommend to some fathers that you might have out there. It's kind of a man's read. Anyway, so here you see two pictures. One little girl getting straight As, and on the right there's a man with a report card with a D. And they're both results of general Ed -- education, so where do your concerns lie with that? With the boy, right? Who's getting a D? I might suggest that we should be concerned about both of them. For different reasons. I think the boy - - yes, we should be concerned about his academic performance. He seems to not be succeeding. And it may be because he's started school without language. It may be because his parents chose for him not to learn sign language initially. Maybe he started school with that deficit in language and has had to be picking up language instead of academics, so for some reason he's not being successful. And when he leaves school, he may still not be successful. We know what the future's like for those kind of kids, for deaf adults who continue to struggle and continue to need our services even after they graduate. They may eventually see us for mental health counseling. They may be on social security. They may not have a pathway to success. The girl, on the other hand, regardless of her straight A’s, and her high self-esteem on the surface, she may also be suffering, because often what we see is that isolation of the child in the mainstream. They don't have the connections that other children have to school. We may need to find a way to help her connect with her peers, with her school life, and some of that can happen before the child arrives at school. They can't simultaneously be learning a language and be learning academics. Here's a quote from Albert Einstein. So learning and life is my education and sometimes education interferes with learning. We say that the kids really want to learn. They want the same things as hearing kids, but they face many obstacles. Really time after time. And you know that. So I was concerned about deaf and hard of hearing children. I have a colleague who teaches at Gallaudet, who's retired now. Gina Oliva. And she's looked at students who struggle. Because now at Gallaudet, probably... I'd say a good half of our students are coming from general education, mainstream classrooms. They're not all coming from residential schools anymore. I'd say it's a good 50-50 split. So we've talked with a lot of students about their experiences in life and through their education, through their general experiences. And they haven't been good. So we're both very interested in what's actually happening out there. The two years that we spent gathering -- spent gathering, we talked with interpreters, we talked with teachers, district managers, deaf adults, we wanted to hear what experience they had now at the end of their educational cycle looking back and to reflect a little bit about what had happened. So that that might give us ideas of what to do with children who are currently in school. That's tough to do because there's parental rights and there's a lot of trouble accessing children who are currently students. But talking to these adults about their memories of their mainstream experiences we felt give them an opportunity to be more honest, and children will tell you -- most of the time, children will tell you what they think you want to hear, we went to the adults and asked them to reflect. So some of the successes for deaf and hard of hearing children is, and there are many, are that they're able to stay in their local schools. They either have a self-contained classroom where there's maybe five or seven kids in a classroom. And today we don't see that happening. There's a lot of children isolated in the mainstream instead of gathered to a magnet program and we see them isolated, and so it's hard to find them for research purposes, for study purposes. So the itinerant teachers are also isolated. The K-12 interpreters are also isolated now that we have this decentralized education of deaf children, and that's a big problem. So we wanted to get a lot -- a lot of -- it's difficult to glean information about that. There is no data pool. I know most schools, they report and collect data about academic achievement, how many disabled children they have, and then the deaf and hard of hearing children are included in those numbers, but there is no real accurate count, no real statistics on a report on the number of deaf and hard of hearing students. And in many cases they're embedded in those other statistics, and that's a problem for us. Okay, so there are three main themes throughout my book that are identified by deaf and hard of hearing adults. That we studied throughout our research. And with these participants. So I'd like to share some of that with you. First is limited friendships and social access. Which is a really big issue. Second was struggles with their identity which is also big. And then interpreters and mediated education issues. So we did see those issues arise quite often, and we ran focus groups, to talk about these issues. So we invited deaf and hard of hearing adults who previously were mainstreamed for the most part of their schooling. And they came to our focus groups to talk about that. And then we threw out just general questions like, “What was best about your education?” and, “What was the worst experience in your school education?” So just watching those conversations was really dynamic. And we did that in three different communities. And so we really felt honored to be a part of those discussions and those conversations. But also, it was amazing to see those participants just go through that experience because there's so rarely an opportunity to express those feelings about their educational experience. So they were really able to connect with each other when they did that. So I'll go in a little deeper with each of these issues. Friendships and social access. One of the first two things we learned is that the participants said, “You know, in elementary school, I was doing okay. I had some issues, but things were okay.” And then when they got to middle school and high school, they would say, like Mark said yesterday as well, “You know, elementary school was okay, but I'm curious how, in your experience, what you might have seen, but I think most people would agree that elementary was a better experience than middle school or high school. The second topic that came up under this issue was that having a friend in school made all the difference in their lives, in their school experience. So those were the two critical pieces of that discussion. You might not be able to read these comments up here, but these are direct quotes from some of our participants. Again, regarding friendships. The first thing we heard was, "I had friends... sort of." And when we asked further about that, the participant said, "I had a friend in the class who would write notes back and forth for me." That was her friend. And that was her only friend that she had. She felt lucky to have somebody in her life like that who was willing to write notes back and forth with her. Another person commented, "I felt I had to pick my friends, but they didn't like my deaf -- or I had to pick friends who would tolerate my deaf voice, but my choices were very limited. "So in telling us more about that experience, this participant said, you know, “I really couldn't pick my friends, they picked me.” That really limited my choices. If I were able to pick friends myself, I may not pick that same person. But I had to take who was willing to be my friend. I was lucky to have what few friends I did. And then one person said, "In high school, I was still eating my lunch in the car and in the bathroom." In the bathroom? That's where that person ate their lunch. So as she shared more, she said she was bullied a lot growing up, and she didn't understand why. Because she's very intelligent, very attractive, very personable person. But I don't know what she was like in elementary and high school, but I can only imagine she was the same, who knows, but that was her experience and it was very negative, and very sad to hear that story. And then the last comment -- was a young man who said, "My best friend in school was the clock." Meaning all day long, he looked at that clock, hoping for the time to move quickly and be released from jail, so to speak. Those were his words. So he really felt very trapped in school, and he couldn't do anything about it. So those comments are very tough to listen, tough to listen to, and people really struggled with friendships. In their elementary general education experiences. So the sadness we'll put away for a little bit. Let's move on the positive. How many of you have ever heard of the term "Deaf fix"? A lot of deaf people have that. “I need my deaf fix.” The minute someone starts talking about that, everybody in the room said, “Yes!” In our focus groups, everybody said, “Oh, yes. That is what saved me throughout my education.” Sometimes that "Deaf fix" isn't need to be -- didn't need to be a physical person-to-person contact, but it could be even online. Talking on video phone or having somebody who was reliable to communicate with. You know, one person said, “Every day, I rush to get home and get online to talk to my deaf friends. People that I've met through other places not at my school. That is what saved my life throughout education.” And there was equal participation in that acceptance of being at home and being safe and -- because that's where people could accept me. So they didn't get that kind of acceptance in school. Two other comments about "Deaf fix" is, it's critical to have language models. So maybe you know, maybe you don't know, but research has shown that there's a lot of language that is learned from peers in general, so the more friends you have, the more conversations you have with them, the more language increases. So it's really important to have relationships with people that you can communicate with. And our friendships with our deaf people carry over to friendships with hearing people, so having a strong base of friends that you can really interact with can then be applied in your skills to friendships with hearing people. So that foundation carries over into relationships outside of your Deaf circle. So getting back to social access to conversations, that goes to incidental learning like Mark talked about yesterday. You know, of course it's a really good thing to be able to hear conversations around you and unfortunately deaf and hard of hearing people are often shut out from that. They're not able to benefit from conversations around them. And those conversations are important. They're really important. Sometimes those conversations are about what's happening in the classroom. They're talking about things that they can connect to outside of classroom that make sense in their learning. Or things that are happening at school. It's important to know that information. What's happening with people. So it's important to have that information and not be shut out from that, so it's a big concern and a big disadvantage for our students. One researcher has really gotten deeply into that topic and learned more about what's happening in general education with incidental learning. Her name is Mindy Hopper. She's from NTID. And she selected two friends, one was deaf, and one was hearing in this friendship from one school. And she asked both of them, during your free time, like if you're riding on the bus or between classes, walking in the hallway, or -- are you -- can you sit and write for ten minutes? Just free writing. And write about things that you heard or things that you saw. Or things that you experienced. Just write about that for ten minutes every day for four weeks. And then she gathered that information and compared the notes of the hearing person and the deaf person, and what she learned is that the hearing girl wrote about things that she heard throughout her day. 97% of the time was things that she heard. The deaf girl, however, wrote about things that she saw throughout her day. 59% of the time. The remainder is, she wrote about things that she heard 40% of the time, and we asked what she meant by that, and she said things that she was told, like “Here, I need to tell you something.” Someone that purposefully told her something or she asked for information. That was 40% of her writing. And that's a big difference. From the deaf girl to the hearing girl. So after that study was completed, the researcher sat down with the deaf girl and they talked through those notes. And the researcher shared the results of her hearing friend's notes. And she said, “Wow! I was shocked. Because that ten minutes is more information than I could learn in a day of the ten minutes of the hearing girl's notes.” So that's a huge contrast. “And it's not right. Because it's not my choice,” she said. So the researcher -- yeah. You know, just -- oh, pardon me, so the deaf girl was more of a bystander in her experiences than the hearing girl was. So she was forced to observe without understanding and without being a participant. She couldn't participate because people were talking all around her without access, and that was not by her choice. So she had no power to change that situation. I think that's a pretty awesome study. So moving on to another topic. Identity issues. You know, the time of teenagers when they're really exploring who they are, and experimenting with different identities. One thing we heard from people in these focus groups was about the hearing standard. That was a common phrase that we saw come up. And I had to -- meaning a deaf person has to compare themselves to hearing people. And so sometimes they're trying so hard to fit into that hearing standard or what they think hearing people do. For example, hearing people are involved with music and dance, so I think I'll try that too. And some of our participants were successful in that, but they were never really quite equally successful to their hearing peers, which means that they still felt inferior, less than, not equal to their hearing peers, and that really affected their self-esteem. And then the moment they met other deaf people is when that changed for them. They were able to stop working so hard to fit in and they could really be themselves. So it was a really nice shift for them and a much more healthier way to engage. And of course another part of identity is figuring out, who am I? Who are you? And trying to be -- people who are similar, I need to find people who are deaf like me is part of their experience. Also, there's some not so good issues with that. Maybe they don't know any other deaf people or, oh, you're not like them. You know, they're told, you're not like them in general education. You don't want to be like those kids at the residential school. What's the message they're being told? Oh, obviously those people, it's us versus them. Being deaf isn't good. So they're trying to be -- they're told to be less deaf. Okay. How many of you know about the book called "Far From the Tree"? Mm-hmm. Awesome. Had you read the book? Have you read the whole thing? Wow! It's a really thick book. Very interesting. It's a very good book. It's written by Andrew Solomon. And he grew up gay. So his gender identity was different from his family. And that created an interest in other people who are different from their family members. So as adults, as an adult, he wanted to do some research about really being involved with another group of people other than your family, such as deaf people are. So one of the chapters in his book is about deaf people. So he studied dwarfs. And transgender individuals. And what other groups? A whole number of groups. There are about ten different chapters in the book. In regard to different groups of people. That he researched and one of the conclusions was that the identity that you're given from your family is vertical. It's called vertical identity. This is what the family tells you is your identity, and who you are. So could be your heritage, things that are passed onto you through your family, which is good, and that is important, but there's also another phenomenon called horizontal identity. Where you seek other people who are like you. And if we don't find those like people, that creates a gap in your identity, and it's very important to fill that gap. With people who are supportive and like-minded as you. So it's a really interesting concept, and I teach family therapy in my program, and I can see now there are more family therapists books that are using concepts from Andrew Solomon's book that people are obviously saying this actually makes sense. I want to use that concept. And the last theme that came out from our research was interpreters and mediated education. What we learned first was that K-12 interpreters are not the same as interpreters for adults or not the same as general interpreters. We didn't call them educational interpreters intentionally, because I know a lot of you K-12 interpreters are considered educational interpreters and I think I guess that's pretty common, but we decided not to use that term because we thought college interpreting and adult interpreting might be included with that, but we consider it different than interpreting for children or teenagers in the school environment. It's a very different kind of work, different rules and expectations, different boundaries, and if you apply general interpreting rules to the school setting -- actually doesn't work. It actually doesn't work. What our research participants said was that, “Wow, my interpreter was my best friend.” Many people said that. “My interpreter was my best friend.” “The person I really could pour my heart out to.” “The person who knew me through and through.” “We had fun together.” “This person would advise me.” “She was like my mother.” We heard a lot of those comments. But at the same time there's also an underlying message that says, “You know, maybe it's not quite right. This adult is my best friend?” There's something not right about that. And the interpreter is the same interpreter from kindergarten all the way through middle school and high school, all day long. Throughout their education career. Without change. So there's a problem with that. And so of course they're thankful to have an interpreter, but, gosh, it's the same one? And they knew there was something wrong with that. Other people said, “You know, she was my interpreter -was my worst enemy.” “I hated that person.” For whatever reason. Either they weren't skilled enough or they didn't care. Or maybe they weren't consistent in attendance? They just always had a very negative experience. And both of those situations, there's not a lot of power to do anything about it, to make change. Another thing we heard from participants was the value of direct communication with their teachers, again in general education, or with their peers, and that -- that everything had to go through a third party. Everything had to go through the interpreter. Come on! If they had the opportunity in class to communicate directly, they would feel like they -- people could know them a little bit better or maybe their peers could learn sign language to get to know me directly. But everything went through the interpreter. It'd be nice to have something direct once in a while so I could be more included in the classroom, and not just, Oh, the interpreter will take care of it. And the participants also said that some teachers were very good with that, and this is very interesting, they said that certain teachers, like people who taught art or people who taught P.E., those were the better teachers. They were more comfortable engaging with their body, so to speak, and facial expressions and so forth. But the difficulty is that trying to change things and wanting people to hear them, hear about my experience or hear about what I need and pay attention and make change and do something. But they found it was very frustrating. For example, one person said in high school, what she did was, for -- she went to a conference sponsored by A.G. Bell, the Alexander Graham Bell association and it was the first time she experienced CART or captioning services and she said that just opened up her access and boy that would be nice to have that in the classroom. And this woman didn't use an interpreter growing up. She was entirely oral. So she was very excited to present that information to her school and she asked for CART services and they said no. They fought very hard for CART services at her school. It took a full year and maybe two months before her graduation before they were finally able to work something out to get CART services for her. It's much harder than it really needs to be. They had to really fight to break down those barriers. And that was a whole waste of time that took away from her learning. So I'm gonna move a little bit into theory right now. Are you familiar with the term social capital? So it's kind of a fancy term for making connections. It's about connecting with family, friends, people in your community, school, church. Making those connections. And research is -- saying that the more and stronger social capital you have, results in greater trust, connections, information, and reciprocity, and so how can we build this in the social-emotional development of our deaf and hard of hearing students? So trying to help them increase their connections is really important. So in January 31st, there was an article in the Washington Post that caught my eye. They were talking about people who were lonely and how loneliness causes -- is about to cause a public health epidemic. And so I read a little bit more. And it talks about how people are lonely. And that impacts their social emotional well-being. How they get along with people. And how that we need to maybe change our core values, because we need to address people who are lonely and isolated. So people who experience both emotional confidence issues and physical health issues as a result of this. And I am concerned. Because I know many of our deaf and hard of hearing students are very isolated, and then they become isolated adults. And I think it's worse when they reach adulthood. So I think we need to change that. Social capital is created by bonding. And it's creating those strong connections with people who are similar to us in a certain element. So I'm sure most of you understand that concept of deaf people bonding with other deaf people. It could be people who have similar interests. It could be people who share the same race. People really bond over similarities. And we understand now that that's important to have those bonds, those social bonds, and amass that social capital. It's like sociological super glue. So once we have amassed that social capital, we are able to build bridges, and it kind of helps us reach out to others, and that's important too. Once we have that identity and that maturity, then we're able to then reach out to people who are different than us. So it's important to have that self-worth, that identity, maybe that's something you can talk about with your deaf children, and as they gain that social capital, they can then bridge into the hearing world in a different way, and those bridges can be more healthy connections. So those first bridges need to be built with deaf people so that they have that bond, and then they can, from that base, bridge out. How many of you watched "America's Next Top Model"? And maybe you've heard about it on Facebook? Nyle DiMarco? Does that ring a bell? He was on the show, and he won. So there was a lot of excitement in the deaf community about a deaf man winning the next top model of course, and this picture, I don't know if you can see it. But it speaks volumes. During the show -- let me back up. So he was on this show. He used an interpreter there for the photo shoots and for the competition elements of the show. But in the house where they all lived, there was no interpreter 24 hours. He just got on by himself and was one of the gang. But he did use voice technology on his smartphone to communicate with them. And again that incidental conversation, that incidental learning, so he knew he wanted to be part of that, so he really relied on his iPhone for that. So at one point during the season, the other group members took his phone and they started playing with his phone and laughing and taking pictures with it, and you see them all together playing with his phone, and Nyle sitting on the outside. He just shut down. He was totally shut out from any of the action. It was as if nobody had cared about him. The whole group who he was bonding with supposedly throughout the season had in his mind turns their backs on him. They had plenty of time to bond and they maybe had been considered his friends up till then. And he gets shut out. They acted like brats. So there was -- he even commented about his experience. And Nyle said, “I really don't need those people, because I have a lot of friends at home.” It's not like he felt that was a real blow to his self-esteem, but he was disappointed. So what he did was, he just became that bystander. He couldn't do anything to change it. And the reason I'm mentioning this is because if someone this successful, America's next top model, can't win friends, you know, he's like the poster child for what deaf people can do and how much we can achieve, but, yes, he comes from a deaf family, he's got great signing skills, he's very -- you know, he benefits from direct communication with his peers, he could communicate with the photographer. You know, there's lots of people who value him, who respect him, he has very healthy self-esteem. But his peers on the show treating him that way, that connection didn't happen. And why I mention this to you is, think about Nyle and the rejection -- Nyle and the rejection he felt and now think of your deaf and hard of hearing children in school. If Nyle felt rejected by this group and felt like a failure in that aspect, imagine what our deaf and hard of hearing children are feeling in school. That's a huge challenge they face. So I think one of our goals is to create these opportunities, as many connections as possible with his family, with the school, with the community at large, with other peers, to create those strong connections and those bonds. And my thinking is that will be a long step towards improving their life. So now the rest of my slides are kind of more in the suggestion area. There's how we can advocate for our children. We see a lot of workshops and things for people telling us how deaf and hard of hearing children need good advocates. They need advocacy and they need self-advocacy skills to be able to assert what they need. And I'd have to say, Yes, but a big warning on that. I don't feel like it should be the child's responsibility. I feel like it should be the adults’ in their lives responsibility to advocate for that child, to do the majority of that. The deaf kid has to do enough already. They're exhausted by the end of the day. They're working really hard every day just to negotiate the mainstream environment. They're trying to succeed with academics, they're trying to stay awake, watching the interpreter, it's hard. And now we want them to advocate for themselves? I just want to proceed carefully in that venue. I think it's our job as the adults. Getting back to our focus group study, there was a lot of comments made saying that we wanted to be involved, we had support of our parents and families. And there were comments saying that they felt bad for their other deaf peers that they knew later didn't have that kind of involvement and family support that they had felt. They were really lost in the mainstream, those ones that didn't have that, and they felt that that made their experiences even worse. Some people mentioned that if they had a deaf child that -- whose parents can't advocate, that child should not be part of a mainstream situation where advocacy is needed. Don't put your child there if you can't advocate for them. And I think many parents relinquish their deaf child to the school system, to the general Ed system, and they can't be there. They can't be involved. We need to change that. So some strategies and ideas for the deaf and hard of hearing -- teachers of the deaf and hard of hearing. And maybe give you a couple minutes to read that. Can you all see back there? Do I need to read it? Okay. I know you're well aware of the power imbalances that we face in schools and remember that the deaf and hard of hearing child has the least power. They have no power in the school setting. So we want to try to increase that if possible. And give them more power and more voice. Some ideas to do that to me seem like common sense and they're probably things you're already doing. But one would be to help foster those relationships with the student and the general Ed teacher. Get the parents involved. Get a relationship going with those parents. And make sure that you're not doing just the classroom teachers, but the resource teachers as well, and if there's a resource room, another interest thing, a lot of -- Gina and I, we talked about, we were really shocked to hear people saying -- talking about their resource rooms and the recollections of the resource rooms saying they loved it, they liked going there, they felt it was a place they belonged because they'd say -- for a variety of reasons. They'd say there was all these rules and there was different rules in the resource room and things didn't make sense, but sometimes when they got to the resource room they had to be quiet and do their homework. Others, they weren't allowed to do homework in the resource room. So it was such a wide variety of uses of that -- and expectations in those rooms. Sometimes they didn't want to go, but they were required to go. Because it was in their I.E.P. to have so much time in a resource room but didn't say what was to happen in there, and nobody listened to what the child said. If they said it's a waste of my time, nobody listened to that. Some -- for the people, maybe the ones who were doing better in school, they felt it was very -- it was a successful experience. But some said it was just a waste of time going to that resource room. They said there was like this artificial separation that was created by pulling them out. If they went to one room to sign with the students, and excuse me, the resource room was for the signing students and therefore they felt separated out and that the oral students could stay in the main classroom. And they felt that it would have been more advantageous to have them all together so they could meet each other as deaf students, and that they used the resource room, they could have -- it could have been used as a place of support and connection. So that might be something to think about and maybe make happen in your school, maybe something to talk about. That, what are you using that information -- that resource room for, if there's something missing, if the child's just sitting there, it might be a great time to catch them up and fill in some of that incidental learning. This I heard a lot of times. If you had a environment, and please sign all the time so that the student can pick up on that incidental learning. Become an advocate for your student and an ally that they can count on. That means that you don't have to do everything for them, but you can make them aware of resources, make them aware of other ways to have things happen. That's what an advocate does. The next slide talks about what deaf and hard of hearing students and families need. I think one of the basic ideas is that they really nee to be -- we need to do more research on this, but it says that suppose the school comes to me -- and looks at me as being disabled and sees that that doesn't benefit me, pitying me, looking at me as less than does not improve my status at the school. It doesn't help me. So for example, if I'm with my peers, if -- if they want to help me, they could point out, go ahead and look at the teacher. But that doesn't foster relationships. Maybe I don't want that help. So it's not very beneficial to the student. So instead of looking at me as disabled, looking at me as part of the rich diversity in the classroom. Look at me as another facet of the diversity in the classroom instead of a detriment to the classroom and a liability to the classroom. They may have to work harder, but it may be worth it to see into my world and to see what I can give back. Don't look at me as someone that needs to be taken care of. And part of that diversity continuum. Everyone has something to contribute. I.E.P. meetings. I think there's a lot of I.E.P. meetings that are maybe not very successful. I think partly because either the student's not present, or again, they're there but passive. And the family often -- some are there to fight and to be engaged. But I think so many are overwhelmed by the system that they become passive as well. They can't ask for what they need. Maybe they don't know what the options are. They don't know what their child needs. But I think the I.E.P. meeting could be more of an opportunity, and they would be more successful if they really were brainstorming sessions, and we could hear from the student what they might like in the classrooms. And part of that is educating the student about what the I.E.P. is. Many of our students don't know what the I.E.P. meeting is and what's decided there, and if they don't know what the meeting's for, they can't participate. Finally, I want to talk about summer camps. Those are awesome opportunities for deaf children. Some of the deaf adults that we met had gone to camp and they love telling their stories about going to camp. I know summer camps, sometimes they're mainstream situation too and they can have their positive outcomes, but I'm talking more about deaf summer camps, those experiences where the deaf is really involved and wholly immersed. People talked about that as being a great experience to be able to reach out to other deaf people. Many of you go to deaf summer camps? Not many of you here, huh? I would assume, Minnesota, everyone would have gone to summer camp here. I'm surprised. So summer camps felt like such a rich experience to many of our participants, and when they left, they felt like, ooh, I can't wait to get back. An many of them felt like it was just yesterday they were at camp. They enjoyed the quick session, felt like a long month to them. They were so immersed and so able to participate in everything. So I'd like you to get -- encourage those deaf children of yours to get involved in camp situations and get involved into deaf camps. Maybe write it into the I.E.P. \for those families that can't afford it. Because it's a real life changing. So many deaf adults told us that was a turning point for them. Again, the barriers that our children face, we need to help them tear it down. They're fighting all day and against those barriers in the school day. And we have to see what message that tells them. If they can get support from administration, from staff, from teachers, to help them ease the way with those barriers. A more understanding environment about what those barriers are and how they can be reduced, that will take some of the pressure off the student. And this again is for interpreters. I think that a lot of what interpreters do is right, and they're doing a great job, and I think there's some changes that could be made as well. I think one thing we always want people to keep in the back of their mind is the power imbalance. Interpreters wield so much power over the child. They have all the power. And we have also the power to change that. One thing that we often heard from people, they would say, that they would -- they had stopped participating in class, because even though they would know the answer, often the interpreter would skew their message and they wouldn't say what the student had said. And they said, “I don't want to look dumb by having my words massacred by this interpreter.” And so, you know, we're all human, but I also can understand their feeling of shutting down. They just don't want to go through that battle again. They don't want to go through that embarrassment again. They don't want to look dumb in front of their peers. They don't want to give people that impression that they're -- that they're making those comments in class. So a lot of times, they'll just shut down. If the interpreter interprets wrong, they're gonna look dumb, so they would stop. So what do you suppose would happen if the interpreter would say, “I’m so sorry, that was my mistake. That wasn't her mistake.” Immediately, there's a way to shift the power. And to share some of that power. And to make the deaf student look smart. And interpreters can do that. We're adults. We need to be able to accept our mistakes. Also, the interpreter has to be more of just an interpreter. They also function as a teacher. Excuse me. They have to do more than just interpret for the teacher. They have to make sure they're there when the child's outside the classroom too to show that they're for them. They could interpret some of the information happening -- maybe talk -- there's time when the teacher is talking and the interpreter is just sitting back. And the kids are talking and the deaf child wants to know what the kids are saying, and the interpreter will say, “Oh, you want me to interpret that too?” And the deaf child will say, “Yes.” And they're not just to interpret when an adult speaks, you're there to provide access for the child, so you need to be sure that everything is accessible to child. And again it's that incidental learning, that stuff that seems not important but adds up during the day and builds those connections and those bonds for the child in the school. And you also have to interpret outside of the classroom as well. The interpreters have to work really hard. They need their breaks as well. But in some ways, in the Nyle voice phone thing, maybe there's a app your students could use and get along without you for some period of the day. So think of ways where that deaf and hard of hearing student can take advantage of more of those incidentals that are happening around them with their peers. And remember that you can serve as an ally to that student. There are a lot of ideas for general education teachers as well. So that means it's up to you to inform them and have conversations with the general education teachers so that it is part of your responsibility to give them ideas to increase those social connections in the general education classroom. So again, remind them about the idea of diversity, not that the child should be seen as just someone with a disability. And be mindful that you're a model. You need to model that behavior. So your connections with the deaf student and you can know that the student will copy those connections. If you're friendly and welcoming and respectful, then the other hearing students in the classroom will copy that. But if you're neglectful and just interpret the basic things in the classroom, and not the student conversations, then the students will notice that as well. So I encourage direct -- or encourage your students to have direct communication with their peers and don't -- not everything necessarily has to go through the interpreter, but be supportive of the teacher and letting them know that they can do that. It's not that hard. And it's important to do. And then the last idea is about creating different learning communities. So not everything has to be in a large group. You can have smaller work groups in the classroom where people are more able to participate and have conversations with each other and have greater learning opportunities instead of being a passive learner. So system wide, we really have to think about going back to the beginning, and I know a lot of these things are hard to do. But many of them are things that really can eliminate so many barriers from the classroom. It's interesting. I was reading some papers that were written out in the hallway out here, those Post-It papers, there are a lot of things that I'm talking about here that are represented on those papers. Administrators, whether it's state and county levels, we want them to understand more about the barriers that deaf and hard of hearing students face. In general education settings. Including the language delays and that their achievement scores and their struggles in the classroom is not because they're deaf, it's because they don't have language, they don't have access to language, which is very critical. And it's an important distinction that they need to be aware of. Deaf and hard of hearing students feel like they have no power. And they feel like they're bystanders in their own experience. So many of them feel like they're judged for their speech ability, and that's not right. It doesn't matter what their abilities are. If you look at them as less than able. So I think most deaf and hard of hearing students definitely are doing the best that they can, and if they're not, it's because they've given up. So I want to remind you to let the people in charge know about these things, and so that they can have a greater understanding. Last piece here. And I see -- I saw this on the poster outside too, so I'm excited about it. Maybe depending on the size, but maybe having a whole lot of deaf and hard of hearing students and having one person having oversight and making those connections with deaf and hard of hearing students, all of the deaf and hard of hearing students in the county, getting those families together and providing workshops to those families, training or fun activities that they can all do together to build those relationships. And then providing training to teachers and administrators, teach them about deaf and hard of hearing students and what they need. And collect data. Maybe have one person do that for the county, or maybe the state may not have a lot of deaf, hard of hearing resources, but at the state level, you need to fight for something to have someone in charge of advocating for deaf and hard of hearing students, and being a watchdog, to make sure that their needs are being met and make sure that they're getting the best education possible. Because nobody else is doing it right now. And that person can't be -- and again, this is my opinion, but that person can't be someone who is a special education director. We're not looking for someone in that role. We want this to be someone who can focus only on deaf and hard of hearing education. And someone who has -- who knows the language and culture of deafness. And someone who has a deaf heart. So that is it. Thank you very much for your attention. And I hope to see over there in the fire side room for the fire side chat in just a few minutes.