Cyber Mentors: A Proposal for CED Proactive Support of Professional Preparation and Educational Excellence
Kent State University
July 12, 1998
CED Board Meeting - San Antonio, TX
The problem of deafness is not a lack of hearing, but an abundance of interpersonal and informational isolation. Surprisingly, such isolation is not limited to deaf/hard-of-hearing (d/hh) students, it is also experienced by many parents, teachers, school administrators and Deaf/hard-of-hearing adults. The "low incidence" nature of deafness, the decentralization of educational services and pervasive cultural pressures all combine to reduce opportunities for interpersonal interactions and informational exchanges. As a result, the knowledge, experiences, ideas and questions of d/hh students, their parents, teachers, school administrators and Deaf/hard-of-hearing adults represent an "untapped" wealth for the field of Deaf Education.
Each year hundreds of individuals begin the undergraduate or graduate process to become a teacher of d/hh students. Each year these individuals spend countless hours studying, observing, rehearsing and being tested upon the knowledge and skills that they will need be begin their professional careers. And each year, colleges and universities are criticized concerning some aspect of their graduates' preparation. One such criticism is the graduates' lack of grounding in the day-to-day realities of teaching d/hh students. Another is that their expectations for student success are too low. While the validity of such criticisms can be debated, Deaf Education Teacher Preparation Programs are faced with a dilemma, i.e., how can they "link" their students to the realities of "today", while inspiring their students to seek the potentials of "tomorrow"? Fortunately, the CED organizational structure and the U.S. technological infrastructure offer a "doable" solution to both the dilemma of education and the isolation of deafness.
Individuals in preparation to become teachers of d/hh students would be offered the opportunity to participate in a "Cyber Mentor" Program. Within this Program, each "teacher-in-training" would be matched with one or more "Cyber Mentors" (i.e., d/hh student, parent, teacher, school administrator and/or Deaf/hard-of-hearing adult). Once "matched", the "teacher-in-training" would use weekly e-mail messages with their "Cyber Mentors" to:
Cyber Mentors, in turn, would:
Each month, each "teacher-in-training" would be asked to submit the "best" of what they learned, shared and/or gathered by submitting a message to the CED Web site. At the end of the year, a panel would be convened to review these submissions and identify those individuals who had submitted the "best" information to the CED Web site. The identified individuals would then be officially noted as "CED Scholars" and given a $500 to $1,000 scholarship. The resulting list of "CED Scholars" and their Teacher Preparation Programs would then be posted on the CED Web site, with hyper links to the "best" of their works.
The proposed Cyber Mentor Project would serve to reduce isolation, increase recognition, enhance teacher preparation and improve Deaf Education. This would be accomplished by:
Action Plan & Time Line:
1. Formal onset of Project