Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Outside The Comfort Zone

This blog was inspired by Mama Kats @ Check it Out!!!!Steppin outside the box (describe a time when you went way out of your comfort zone)
(inspired by Sherri from Matter Of Fact)

Interpret This 

My Classroom 
I work in a non-suburban, non inner-city high school. It's not a poor school or a rich school by any means. It probably is a very middle class school. It has a great mixture of students of all ethnicity. It's not snobby or ultra-competitive like some schools. It reminds me very much of my first HS which is why I like teaching there so much. 

I have confidence in what I do there and feel pretty comfortable most of the time....unless I'm being watched by another adult. Evaluation put me in a frenzy. I hate being watched. I love when someone spontaneously comes in my room and catches me in my natural state. I hate being on display. I freeze. I am definitely not in my comfort zone! 

So, when I got two deaf students, I silently panicked. My school is also the district HS for deaf students which are mainstreamed with the other students. All it means for me is that I will have an intrepreter in my room. Mimicking me. Saying what I say. Watching me. Really listening to me. AWKKKKKKK.

So, I think, other teachers do this, so can I. But inside I was dreading it thinking...why can't I just for once have a normal, non-stressful year? Not comfortable. Not comfortable. 

The interpreter came by before school and told me about the two deaf girls I would have. We decided to seat them across from each other so they could easily see her. The first day was weird. If I smiled and laughed. She mimicked me with my hands and sort of imitated my facial expressions somewhat. 
As time went on, I noticed that if I talked out-loud to another student she interpreted it. If I said something quietly to a student she interpreted it. If I said something quietly to her she answered in sign. Nothing was said in there without her interpreting it.
 I actually got over the nervousness of having another body in there pretty quickly although at times I felt awkward. I also learned a lot about the deaf and how interpreters are really the key to making it possible for students to be in regular schools. I was out of my comfort zone that year several times as I got used to her and the imitating. I was more aware of how I spoke and said things. I think I became a better teacher and didn't wing things so much so I wouldn't say something stupid!!! I got so used to her that I would forget she was in there and that the girls couldn't hear me. 
Since then I've had several interpreters and observers and even parents watching their kids,  and now I'm teaching with a coach in the room with me and it doesn't even phase me. Evaluations still freak me out....but I think they always will. 


Genie @ Diet of 51 said...

That's great insight to what it's like in the classroom from someone who obviously knows what she's talking about!

Your school sounds fun, and it's wonderful that you love it so much. I'm sure you are very inspiring to the kids, the interpreters, and the evaluators!

Bethany @ Organic Enchilada said...

I completely understand the dislike of being watched. :) I kind of freeze up, too. I don't teach school or anything, but anytime I have to do something in front of other adults I get that panicky feeling. Kids I can handle, adults make me nervous.
Now I've made myself sound like a weirdo. Sorry.

Great post though! Visiting from mama kat!

Jenners said...

Visiting from Mama Kats...

I totally relate to this (though I'm not a teacher). I do much better with things when I'm not being watched or observed. I love how the experience made you a better teacher though. And kudos to your school district for mainstreaming these kids!!