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The Hybrid Model for Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) Teachers: Why and How

teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing Sep 20, 2023
Student learning online with smile

In the ever-evolving landscape of education, one teaching model that has gained significant traction since Covid is the hybrid model. The hybrid model combines both in-person and remote learning, and it's becoming increasingly popular, especially for Teachers of the Deaf. That's why I decided to offer this training for the Online Itinerant's first Meet-Up of the school year. I invited Jamie Bozarth, a Teacher of the Deaf in rural Missouri who uses the hybrid model with her students, to come and talk about the model and how to implement it.  In this blog post, we'll delve into why the hybrid model may be advantageous for Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) teachers and explore strategies for its effective implementation.


What is Hybrid Service Delivery?

Hybrid service delivery refers to an educational approach that combines both in-person and virtual settings to provide comprehensive support and instruction to students who are deaf or hard of hearing. This approach is one strategy that supports meeting the needs of a large caseload of students, especially when students are far away are require a long commute to deliver services.  I have personally driven 2 hours one way to work with a student for 30 minutes. That's a lot of driving time for a short amount of student time!  This strategy provides both face-to-face instruction and online services, reducing the "windshield time" (time behind the wheel) that limits the amount of time teachers are able to spend with students.


Why the Hybrid Model?

Below are a few advantages of using the hybrid delivery model:

1. More Service Delivery Time: When you trade windshield time for service delivery time, it's always a win.  I personally like this concept because it still allows me time to build relationships with students and work 1:1 with them in person, but it also frees up my schedule for all the other things I need to do, but can't do, while I'm driving. This time trade allows for more opportunities to complete paperwork, attend IEP meetings, and find and implement quality tools and resources to use with your students.

2. Preparation for the Digital Age: In today's tech-driven world, digital literacy is a crucial skill. Teaching DHH students in a hybrid model equips them with valuable digital skills, enhancing their readiness for higher education and the workforce.

3.  Promote student independence: When working with students through the hybrid model, you can set expectations for certain levels of independence, such as setting up Bluetooth capabilities, captioning, accessing a virtual interpreter, etc.  When you work with them in-person, you can teach the skills that can be incorporated into the virtual setting.  One nice thing about coupling in-person with virtual services is that you can do in-person troubleshooting when needed.

Why NOT the hybrid model?

Of course, the hybrid model does have some limitations:

1.  Not all students learn well virtually.  The student's learning style, educational needs, and access to support must be carefully considered prior to establishing a hybrid learning model for them.  While it's magic for some, it can be a train wreck for others.

2. Technology issues always happen.  While it's important for students to learn how to manage when technology goes awry (and it will!), if you don't have reliable internet or functioning technology, the hybrid model will not be successful.

That said, outside of these two non-starters, they hybrid model can be considered for your caseload of students.


How to Implement the Hybrid Model Effectively

1. Identify the students who may benefit from the hybrid format. The best candidates fall into two categories; students who have someone who can easily support them in the virtual environment, such as a para or interpreter and students who are older and fairly independent learners.  Both of these kinds of students are potentially good candidates for a hybrid delivery.

2.  Decide how you want to divide your services:  Jamie recommends 75% of services virtual and 25% of services in-person.  I personally like the 50-50 model.

3.  Establish where you can implement your virtual services and with what technology.  This will take some planning and some team effort.  Collaborate with speech therapists, audiologists, and other specialists to help put everything in place. You may also need to review and update Individualized Education Plans (IEPs).

4. Create Accessible Content. Develop or curate digital content that is accessible virtually to your students. Of course, the Teaching Toolbox inside the Professional Academy has a lot to offer, including virtual activities and assessments.

5. Identify your video platform.  Of course, you want to make sure that whatever video platform you use has a strong internet signal and is easy for your students to access. This sounds easier than it may be.  You will want to test the technology ahead of time.  You can actually test it when you work in-person with your student.  Set them up in the location they will be when accessing virtual services.  Then you can go to another part of the building or even to another part of the room.  With you close, your student can practice logging on and you can ensure that the internet signal works well.


In her presentation, Jamie also shared the importance of getting administration buy-in to the hybrid model, communicating with parents, and also training facilitators to help support the process.  This of course needs to be ongoing throughout the entire school year.

In conclusion, in the current age of teacher shortage, large caseloads, and ridiculous amounts of "windshield time," this model offers numerous benefits for DHH teachers and their students. It provides flexibility while equipping DHH students with essential digital skills. By tailoring instruction to individual needs and leveraging technology effectively, DHH teachers can create a dynamic and inclusive learning environment that prepares their students for success in the digital age. 

Jamie Bozarth offers support to help you get started.  She can be contacted at [email protected]


If you would like to see this training or connect with others who are trying out the Hybrid model for DHH services, I'd love to invite you to check out the Professional Academy through The Online Itinerant.  CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE.


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