Because my sensorineural hearing loss makes it difficult for me to understand a child’s delicate voices, someone must come alongside me to repeat or explain what the child has spoken. I call this person a hearing helper. Some of the ways in which this person helps:
* Pulls me aside to slowly repeat a child’s comment or question
* Writes down information spoken by the child, such as their name if a new student
* Assists with behind-the-scene tasks, like gathering supplies, so I can focus on each child
* Reminds children to use quiet voices and hands to prevent unnecessary background noise
* Encourages children to face me when speaking so I can lipread them
* Gives one-on-one attention to special needs children who are mainstreamed in the class
Two Sundays a month, I volunteer with Emilie, Cody, Jill, and a rotating base of other hearing helpers. Usually there are three or four assistants with me in each class. While their primary function is to assist with Sunday school class preparation and hands-on instruction, they are so much more to me. Hearing helpers are my ears, hands, lips, and feet. They allow me to be involved in my daughter’s classroom and get to know her friends. Without them, I would struggle to understand everything my students say.
As I shared with one of the parents when she picked up her son last Sunday, it takes a team effort to lead a class.
“You’re a great teacher,” the mom said.
I shook my head. “Without helpers in this class, I wouldn’t have a clue what any of the children are saying.”
The mom knew a little about my hearing loss but not the whole story. “Really? How is your hearing these days?”
I raised my hand then swooped it down. “Like this. Going down like a ski slope.”
After a short pause, I added, “Without these helpers, I wouldn’t be a good teacher.”
I made sure to point out Emilie, Cody and Jill.