Beyond Child’s Voice: What makes a teacher effective?

by Carrie Jackiewicz, Special Services Coordinator

When I observe our alumni in their neighborhood schools, I see some amazing teachers. What makes these teachers so amazing? What makes them effective in the classroom?

One of the most important qualities is a teacher who has a structured classroom with clear and consistent expectations. This is beneficial for students with hearing loss because the students know what is expected and they can predict what will be happening next. One teacher I observed this year stated her expectations and repeated them often, constantly reminding the students how to behave and participate.

A second quality is a teacher who provides consistent visual support throughout her lessons. Visual information could include pictures shown on the Smart Board, captions on videos, and outlines of important information.

Students with hearing loss benefit from visual information accompanying the input they receive auditorially. When I go into classrooms, I love to see charts of information hanging on the walls because they are an extra resource for our alumni when they are working independently.

A third quality is a teacher who is a clear communicator. I have seen many teachers use gathering techniques to gain students’ attention. Gathering techniques let a student with hearing loss know important information is about to be shared.

Examples of gathering techniques include “Hocus Pocus”/”Everybody Focus”, “1, 2, 3 eyes on me”/”1, 2 eyes on you”, or clapping in a rhythm. Clear communication also means teachers giving specific directions and repeating them often. Repeating directions helps students with hearing loss in case they missed part of the direction the first time it was given.

The final quality is a teacher who is experienced with implementing modifications and accommodations. One modification that is very helpful for students with hearing loss is repeating students’ responses. When teachers repeat students’ responses, it can help a student with hearing loss who did not hear their peers due to background noise or the other students talking quietly. Repeating students’ responses helps students with hearing loss hear the complete conversation as it moves throughout the room.

One particularly important accommodation is the use of a remote microphone system. Teachers who have experience with remote microphone systems can help students by using the microphone to amplify students’ voices during a discussion or to amplify a partner’s voice during a partner activity.

While I have only touched on a few qualities, these are some of the most important ones that help our alumni succeed in their neighborhood schools. While parents cannot typically ask for a specific teacher at a school, they can ask for a teacher who demonstrates these qualities to have the best environment for their child.