Classroom Strategies

Classroom Strategies For Communication And Instruction

Working With Deaf Students And Interpreters
  • Avoid giving instructions or lecturing when students are doing work. The deaf student cannot do his/her work and attend to the interpreter at the same time. If instructions need to be given, be sure there is a short lag time for the student to look up from doing their work to be able to “see” the instructions.
  • There is always a delay between the spoken thought and the interpretation. Remember to give time for the interpreter to process and relay the information.
  • When asking a question, let the interpreter finish interpreting, then give deaf students sufficient time to process the question and volunteer or raise a query before calling on a student.
  • Have no more than one person talk at a time. Encourage students to raise their hands before speaking so that the interpreter and deaf students can identify the current speaker. It is a good idea to make it a rule that no one speak or sign without first being recognized by the teacher.
  • Provide the interpreter any handouts, extra books, worksheets, etc. ahead of time to preview so they can become familiar with specific vocabulary.
  • If you must leave the classroom, do not expect the Interpreter to monitor or discipline the class. The Interpreter may remain in the classroom to interpret any interactions that occur between students, or the interpreter may step out in the hallway and wait until you return to the classroom.
  • Repeat and reinforce key points if some deaf students appear lost or if one of them gives an incorrect response.
  • When teaching English, avoid an auditory based response, such as "It sounds right." Describe explicitly the grammatical basis of a correct usage.
  • To get their attention, tap a student on the shoulder, arm, or desk. Wave to the student if he or she is at a distance.
  • Make use of heightened facial expressions, gestures, and direct eye contact, but be careful not to over exaggerate expressions or mouth movements.
  • Speak directly to a deaf student and expect him or her to respond directly to you. Avoid saying, "Tell her (him) to do that."
  • Learn some survival or basic sign vocabulary, such as Okay, Good Work, Wonderful, Congratulations, or Right. Deaf Students will appreciate such praise and positive reinforcement.
  • Simple gestures and smiles can be used to show personal interest or to convey approval.
  • Talk in front of a student rather than behind.
  • Encourage hearing students to communicate with deaf classmates by writing, signing, or fingerspelling.
  • When ordering films and videotapes for use in the classroom check for ones that are captioned. This not only benefits the deaf students, but also helps hearing students develop better reading skills.
  • Try to be as “visual” as possible. Write on the blackboard, use different examples of giving directions or desired result.