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Academic Success Strategies: Classroom Needs for Students with Hearing Loss

"we know Lexi is deaf. We will do whatever we can to help her learn and reach her greatest potentials. I can't promise perfection, but we will work with you to adjust and learn along with you and Lexi."

All week I've been sharing the things that I've seen can be GAME CHANGERS for helping our children with hearing aids and cochlear implants IN THE CLASSROOM. 

One thing I've learned throughout the years is that while IEPs and academic plans are a great checklist, asking one teacher to keep up with that lengthy list as well as the rest of her students and duties... well, it's kind of a tall order. 

There are no IEPs at a private school. When we started at Brentwood Academy, I remember sitting down with the principal and she said "we know Lexi is deaf. We will do whatever we can to help her learn and reach her greatest potentials. I can't promise perfection, but we will work with you to adjust and learn along with you and Lexi."

I remember walking out of that meeting with a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. Mrs. Brasher's honesty revealed humility. When we are trying to help our own children, are we perfect? Have I given Lexi every little detail of what she needs? Have I always been patient? Have I always walked away from my very big job to sit with her and study vocabulary? NO. Why? Because I'm responsible for so much more than just one child. I have a teenage son with ADHD who also needs me. I have a huge job running this charity, our mobile outreach, hiring, training, managing budgets, blogging, doing all the social media, raising donations, sponsorships and writing grants. I am overwhelmed many days and doing the best I can.....and so are Lexi's (and many other) teachers. 

Now don't get me wrong. There are a few teachers here and there who need to be reminded, sternly, that they have a child with special needs and they need to do more. However, a vast majority of teachers are helping children learn from the very bottom of their big ole hearts!

Here's my point... while our lists are long; the needs are tremendous, find out what the MAIN THINGS your child needs and hone in on those things. What makes the biggest impact on your child's learning? What has impacted their learning the most? HONE IN ON THOSE THINGS and (read yesterday's blog about communicating with teachers) help them help your child.

Example: We could ask that each room be equipped with Roger technology, etc. However, at Brentwood Academy, the classes are small in the number of students. She is in class with about 12 kids at a time. For now, Roger isn't something we must have. Her rooms are quiet.

Here are a list of "must haves" that we've worked on for the past few years. This list is because of my willingness to accept "trial and order":

1. Lexi does need to sit in the front of the classroom.

2. Lexi DOES need to have a copy of the notes to keep up with difficult vocabulary (see Monday's blog!)

3. Lexi DOES need to take tests/quizzes early in the morning due to mental fatigue.

4. Lexi DOES need extra time and often a test given verbally -- especially word problems or essay questions.

5. Lexi DOES need to review the "circled" questions from a test to get help with the difficult vocabulary or sentence structure to answer the question. The teacher DOES need to review it with her prior to grading it.

6. Lexi DOES need her teachers to use #5 as a way to teach her to DECODE difficult questions and vocabulary... a skill she will use for the rest of her life. 

7. Lexi DOES need to write down difficult vocabulary said during class lectures and ask for help after class or in study hall. 

8. They DO need to give her a little grace. Lexi first has to THINK ABOUT LISTENING, then to THINK ABOUT WHAT SHE HEARD (Dr. Emily Lund, TCU). 

So that's Lexi's list. Much of this will teach her to be independent. This will give her LIFE SKILLS, but these things will follow her to standardized tests such as the PSAT, SAT and ACT! 

LET ME KNOW if you have questions or comments!