Peer Support and Seating Charts
Many special education teams will work together for the best ways of teaching students with hearing impairments. One accommodation that is enjoyable for many students and works well is peer support. This means that EVERY student in the classroom has a peer buddy or even a small peer group to help one another and lend each other support.
If you’re the regular classroom teacher working with students mainstreamed into your classroom, you can strategically assign your student with a hearing impairment a peer buddy, who could easily help him/her with teacher directions, announcements over the loud-speaker, class discussions, and so on. In turn, the student with the hearing impairment could help his peer buddy with a task such as reminding him to turn in his homework or double checking his assignment notebook or really any task.
The important thing to remember is when teaching students with hearing impairments and using a peer buddy, the buddy can help the hearing impaired student “hear” all the directions and lectures he/she needs to, and he/she should feel like he can help his/her peer buddy in return. Plan this carefully when assigning peer buddies. Also, if you assign the entire class peer buddies, then this accommodation for the student with hearing difficulties does not make him/her stand out from his peers.
When assigning seats on a seating chart, it is helpful for your student with a hearing impairment to sit in the front of the room and in the middle of the row, if possible. His peer buddy should be next to him/her or behind him/her, whichever you find to work best.
Teacher Help and Communication
Teaching students with hearing impairments takes a team. Mainstreaming students into a regular classroom takes home/school communication to be successful. Parents can help you figure out how to teach students with hearing impairments. One way teachers can communicate easily with parents of a student with a hearing impairment is by providing lecture notes, outlines, or study guides for the student.
Since the student may not hear everything the teacher says, he may not be skilled at taking notes. The teacher provides a copy of notes that she would expect a typical student to take in her class. The student with a hearing impairment shares the notes with his/her parents for further practice at home if needed.
Teachers should also make sure to email or send notes home, with students with hearing impairments, about special announcements, events at school, or instructions for projects. Because these students may not hear every detail clearly, it is important for regular classroom teachers to inform the parents, and possibly the special education teacher, themselves. The peer buddy mentioned above can help with these instructions also, but it is not the sole responsibility of the peer buddy to make sure the student has important instructions.
Many teachers discover that the accommodations they make when teaching students with hearing impairments also help other students in their classroom and improve parent communication for everyone.