Dear Lipreading Mom,
My acceptance of an overnight hearing loss is still in process. One ear has profound loss and the other is partial. Professionally, I am a classroom kindergarten teacher and have been on leave. This school year, I have 24 incoming students. I asked the school administration for a dropped ceiling; I got panels glued onto it. I teach in an old cement-walled school.
My administration is not supportive of my return, and my coworkers think I should quit. I do have fears, but guess I can always "turn a deaf ear."
My confidence is lost; I don't know what I should and shouldn't be able to hear. I have hearing aids but cannot hear enough. Background noise destroys my comprehension, such as when trying to eat out with my husband and in church, where I understand about 75 percent of the pastor's message.
I don't want to fail my students; I love teaching and was good at it. What do people in my situation do?
Worried About Work
Thank you for contacting me. I can truly understand your feelings about returning to work since those were my same thoughts when I was diagnosed with progressive hearing loss in 2001.
Here are some ideas I have for you:
- Has your audiologist mentioned if you are a candidate for a cochlear implant in your deaf ear? Some of my friends who are teachers with profound hearing loss qualified for a cochlear implant to help them hear better in the classroom. One such teacher-friend writes a blog at http://lisashearingblog.blogspot.com/.
- Would your school consider you having a classroom assistant who can be your 'hearing helper'? This person would be a second set of ears when students are asking you questions that you can't hear. She can write things down for you or text them to you. I have found that having a hearing helper works for me when I teach kindergarteners at my church.
- The first day of school, have a show and tell time with your students about your hearing aids, and invite the principal to see your presentation. Explain that you can only hear them when one person speaks at a time and that person faces you and speaks slowly and clearly. Share that your eyes are your ears. Show off your hearing aids. Create visual aids that can help you share about your hearing loss. Make the presentation fun by having the kids plug their ears, close their eyes, and then try to listen to what you are saying.
- Learn some simple sign language you and the students can use in the classroom to communicate. A child-friendly video series
you might show them (and that my own children love) is www.signingtime.com.
- Keep the perspective that this is your class, so do everything you can to communicate with your students. Don't let hearing loss keep you from the love you have of teaching. Please be patient with yourself and your students as you navigate the waters of hearing loss.
- Get outside support. I encourage you to connect with the Hearing Loss Association of America, Association of Late-Deafened Adults, SayWhatClub, or any number of Facebook hearing loss support groups.
On a personal note, I will pray that your school administration and staff will be more accepting and patient with you teaching with a hearing loss. You have so much to offer those children---and you can be a role model and inspiration to them about not giving up.
Please keep me posted.
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Shanna Groves was diagnosed with progressive hearing loss after the birth of her first child. She was 27. Raised in a hearing family, Shanna traces her hearing loss to a genetic loss on the paternal side of her family. She is mom to three young children, a published author, and speaker. Her books are featured at www.ShannaGroves.com. Shanna blogs about being a hard of hearing mom at http://LipreadingMom.com.