Didn’t Hear That? Ask For a Repeat!

by Carrie Jackiewicz, Special Services Coordinator

Have you ever been with a group of people and you miss the punchline of a joke? Everyone laughs and you have to fake laugh to pretend you heard what was said. It is such a terrible feeling when you miss something someone said. This happens to our alumni often in their classrooms.

It is challenging for students with hearing loss to follow a discussion as it moves around a classroom. Students with a hearing loss may not be able to see all the students in the class, and therefore cannot use speechreading to understand what they said. Other students may not speak loud enough for a student with hearing loss to hear them. Sometimes teachers quickly call on students and there is not enough time to look to the speaker before they talk.

When teachers do not repeat what the other students say, I imagine it may sound like a radio going in and out of a tune to a student with hearing loss because they do not have access to everything being said. For example:  Teacher: Tell me some genres of fiction that we have read. Johnny? …. Olivia? Fantasy Brian? …. Emily? Drama Patrick? …. The student would not have heard several words in that discussion.

In my observation reports, I recommend that teachers repeat what other students say during instruction, whether it is an answer, a comment, or a question. Teachers are typically wearing a remote microphone (like the one our Principal, Ms. Anna, is wearing in the photo), which amplifies their voices over the background noise in the classroom. When teachers repeat students’ responses while wearing a remote microphone, it provides an extra presentation in case the student with a hearing loss did not hear or understand what the students said.

Going back to my example from above, if the teacher repeated the students’ responses, the student with hearing loss would have heard all of the genres of fiction instead of two: Teacher: Tell me some genres of fiction that we have read. Johnny?Drama Olivia? Fantasy. Fantasy. Brian?Humor. Emily? Poetry. Poetry. Patrick?Fable. The student with hearing loss would have all the information instead of part of it.

What should a student do if their teacher does not repeat responses and he missed something? He could raise his hand and ask for a repetition: “What did you say?” or clarification: “I don’t know what you said.” He could indicate to the teacher that he missed something, through a hand signal or a red piece of paper to signify “stop, I missed something.” The student could also turn and ask a classmate to repeat something. At Child’s Voice, we will continue to teach our students a variety of skills to help themselves when they do not hear or understand in their classrooms.