When my daughter, Kyersten, started college this Fall, I had a brief moment of panic. For 4 years, she has volunteered to be a “teacher’s aide” for me at school during hours she didn’t have other classes. It’s really wonderful when your daughter is your teacher’s aide. I didn’t have to worry about how she’d feel if I “bossed her around”. Smile.
Faced with a school year with no teacher’s aide, I put out a plea to my older students. “HELP“!
I was surprised that a good number of students eagerly stepped forward to try to fill Kyersten’s shoes. I could only chose one, and so went with who hit “reply” first. I’m glad it was Kathleen. Kathleen (pictured above) is one of my third year American Sign Language students. She has been SUCH a big help this year. As soon as she enters my classroom, she is in full “aide” mode. She doesn’t even ask what needs done, as she figured out after the first class that the camera had to be set up for “Hot Seat”, (* see below), and without being asked she passes out graded work and new lecture notes to each student.
Kathleen didn’t even balk when I made a tiny “big deal” about a Christmas gift I had purchase for her, and even wore the HAT. (Is that “game” or what?)
Over the past 7 years, I have learned to ask for assistance with much more grace. If you have a disability and are “grumpy” about the fact you can’t do all you “use to”, then asking for help can be next to impossible. Someone who is uncomfortable about asking for help, is not even a good candidate for an assistance dog. Even assistance dogs like praise and the occasional treat.
Chloe wouldn’t wear the hat, but was glad to pose by the tree. She loves to work, but there are some things she can’t do for me. She can’t pick up heavy books that I drop, and I don’t allow her to pick up things that would be dangerous for her. An example would be that I broke a Christmas bulb when helping to decorate the tree. I had to intervene quickly, as she has been taught an automatic retrieve (as most things I drop I don’t hear). I obviously didn’t want her to pick up broken glass. I had to ask one of my teens to help me.
In the grocery store today, I knocked over a huge box of Cheerios in the cereal isle. I didn’t want canine teeth marks in the box. It was big enough that Chloe would have had to exert some pressure to get it up high enough for me to reach it. Instead, I allowed a person standing there watching to assist as they were eager to do so. It was pretty easy for me to transition that to my classroom. I’ve learned to ask my students for “help” when I drop something too heavy for Chloe to pick up. My students never mind hopping out of their seats to help.
A big online THANK YOU to my 2008-2009 teacher’s aide, Kathleen. See you “next year”!
* HOT SEAT: One student each week sits in an “interpreter’s chair” and listens to a pre-taped selection from which they are to sign all that they can. They then take it home and choose 60 seconds to translate, practice and perform the following week.
© 2008 Hearing Loss Journal