Itinerant Teachers and the Beginning of the Year StressAug 09, 2023
The field of education is no stranger to the challenges that teachers face, but there exists a unique subset of educators who grapple with an additional layer of complexity: Itinerant Teachers of the Deaf (ITODs). These dedicated professionals play a crucial role in the education of deaf and hard-of-hearing students, but their specialized responsibilities can often lead to stress and uncertainty. In this blog post, we'll delve into the reasons behind the stress experienced by ITODs, exploring the intricacies of explaining their role, differentiating from others, curriculum identification, lesson organization, record-keeping, data collection, and student scheduling.
Navigating the Maze of Explaining Their Role
One of the primary sources of stress for ITODs is their struggle to succinctly explain their role to others. Unlike traditional classroom teachers, ITODs move between various educational settings, leaving them in a constant state of adapting their responses to questions like, "What do you do?" Explaining their unique responsibilities, from adapting curricula to providing specialized support, can be challenging, often leaving them feeling misunderstood and undervalued.
The Challenge of Differentiation
ITODs face the daunting task of distinguishing their role from that of other educators. The nuances of catering to deaf and hard-of-hearing students, the application of diverse communication methods, and the integration of assistive technologies set ITODs apart from general classroom teachers. Communicating these distinctions and the significance of their role in a succinct manner adds to their stress, as they strive to convey their unique contributions to the education system.
Balancing Curriculum and Individualized Learning
Identifying and adapting curriculum materials for students with varying levels of hearing impairment is another area that brings stress to ITODs. Each student's learning needs are distinct, demanding ITODs to carefully customize lessons that accommodate various communication methods, language levels, and learning styles. This level of individualization requires time, effort, and creative problem-solving, contributing to their overall stress levels.
Juggling Lesson Organization, Records, and Materials
ITODs must seamlessly organize their lessons, teaching materials, and records across multiple locations and classrooms. The need to constantly transport and manage a range of resources, from visual aids to assistive technologies, adds an additional layer of complexity. The potential for lost materials or missed records makes it even more challenging, as they must ensure the continuity of their teaching approach and student progress tracking.
Data Collection and Its Implications
Collecting data is crucial for ITODs to monitor student progress and adjust their strategies effectively. However, the task of accurately collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data can be overwhelming. Striving to gauge the effectiveness of their methods while managing their other responsibilities places a heavy burden on ITODs, potentially leading to stress and uncertainty about their teaching approach.
Scheduling Struggles and Student Support
Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of an ITOD's role is scheduling. Coordinating their presence across multiple schools, attending IEP meetings, and collaborating with various stakeholders requires intricate time management skills. Schools often have alternating schedules, based on 2-day rotations, 5-day rotations, and I’ve even had some schools on 7-day rotations. Making a consistent schedule can be like trying to juggle bricks and ping-pong balls simultaneously. Ensuring that each student receives the necessary support without disruptions demands is a complicated and delicate balancing act!
Itinerant Teachers of the Deaf are true champions in the realm of education, tirelessly working to provide specialized support to their deaf and hard-of-hearing students. However, the multifaceted nature of their role, the challenges of differentiating themselves, adapting curricula, organizing lessons, managing records, collecting data, and maintaining complex schedules can lead to stress and uncertainty. That’s exactly why I created my August workgroup, From AHHH to ahhh: Creating Your Itinerant Playbook for the Year, which meets every morning in August, to support Itinerant Teachers as they prepare for the new school year. I’ll be honest, being an Itinerant Teacher is the toughest of jobs! But with some support and the right hacks, ITODs can start the year strong! Want to join us? CLICK HERE for more info!