Julie Sandifer, Robert E Lee High School

My experience working with the deaf began as a college student working a part-time job in the Center, an after-school activity program at Louisiana School for the Deaf (LSD). I graduated in Speech and Hearing Therapy, never intending to become a classroom teacher. However, when I was offered a full-time position as a teacher in the Center, I accepted. After completing my teacher licensure, I worked as a classroom teacher at LSD as well as an educational interpreter.

I currently serve as an itinerant teacher in our local public school. A typical day may find me consulting with a pre-school teacher about a student’s hearing aid, explaining multiple meanings to an elementary student, or helping to prepare a Louisiana history project at the middle school. It is my responsibility to ensure that the classroom teachers are aware of the accommodations and modifications listed on my students’ IEPs and to provide assistance in achieving IEP goals. My students have varying degrees of hearing loss. For some students, I coordinate the services of educational interpreters and captionists. For others, I make sure amplification is working effectively.

An itinerant teacher may be asked to serve students at any level; however, my main focus is secondary students. My high school students were fully mainstreamed long before inclusion was emphasized. Most come to my classroom for one hour daily of Hearing Impaired Study Skills. Instruction is driven by what is being presented in the regular classroom. During a typical class period, I might check assignments followed by a review of areas requiring extra instruction and explanation. I collaborate with regular education teachers in various subject areas. Tapping into their expertise allows me to more effectively provide assistance to my students.

As an itinerant teacher, I focus on my students’ academic, social and emotional needs. Sometimes I need to be creative to deliver instruction. When my students needed to take a foreign language, I found an on-line course in Latin which worked out well. When my students lacked transportation so they could participate in after-school activities, I advocated for bus service. Working one-on-one with students enables me to know what is going on in their lives, so I can help meet their emotional needs.

Itinerant teaching is challenging because of all the different levels and subjects it encompasses. This role also allows me to develop close relationships with my students throughout their school years. Following students from elementary to middle school allows me to know my students’ strengths and weaknesses and to build on past instruction. This knowledge is invaluable in helping them become self-advocates when they transition to post-secondary study or work after graduation.

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