Monday, February 15, 2016

#Mondayblogs: Learning How to Listen from the Deaf

So many of you know, that in addition to my exciting life as an author, I also teach writing to college students. 

This semester I have a member of the deaf community in my classroom, and as is my college's policy, there are two interpreters in the room who assist him during our lessons. 

Now this is not my first semester working with a deaf student, but I've got a lot to learn. (Interesting side note: One semester I had a deaf student and a blind student in the same class and that REALLY challenged my teaching techniques, let me tell you!)

So in the spirit of learning and with this month's theme of listening, I pay attention. I pay attention to my students when they speak to me, to each other and not at all--watching the way they speak with their bodies instead. But in particular, I've been paying attention with how my deaf student LISTENS to me, to his interpreters, and his classmates and it's teaching me a lot about how to be a good listener.

And here are a few things I've learned from my deaf student.

1) It's important to look at the person talking to you.

2) It's important to give the person talking to you, your undivided attention.
3) It's important not to interrupt.
4) It's important to know that "hearing" is an act of interpretation, and clarification is key.

Now all of these ideas are already touched upon "how to be a good listener" research for those with the priviledge of working ears. However, I found that it was true, even if you don't have the ability to hear someone! And furthermore, because of their constraints in the physical sense, the deaf community must FULLY engage, CONSCIOUSLY engage when they want to listen to someone.

And that is what I'm taking away from this. If I want to hear someone, to connect with them, I must fully and consciously engage--and what a challenge in our age of distractions!

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