I’m not going to lie…today was a hard day. Trying to get schedules set and figure out the best solutions for the kids and interpreters had left me feeling overwhelmed.
Thankfully, I have support at home and when I can talk things out, I’m reminded “That isn’t your job, Jeanne”. So I always go back to the Classroom Interpreting website to center myself and read what Educational Interpreters do.
The educational interpreter has numerous relationships with different obligations to each. Such obligations include:
Member of the educational team − There are many legal obligations that come with being a member of an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) team. The interpreter has a responsibility to understand and help implement the student’s IEP. He or she also has a responsibility to work as a member of the team and to keep the team informed. All decisions regarding the student’s education should be made by the team.
An interpreter for a specific student − Educational interpreters have a responsibility to help maximize a student’s learning. They should adapt interpreting to the student’s developmental level across a wide range of domains, if necessary. Educational interpreters must also acknowledge that they have accepted the huge responsibility of working with a developing child. With that comes the responsibility to treat all children with equality and respect.
A professional working in a classroom − All adults in educational settings have obligations that come with working with children and youth. All professionals foster development in all members of the school community, not just those in their specific charge. Interpreters can help the deaf or hard of hearing student become accepted within the classroom by seeing themselves as a member of the classroom, not as professionals belonging to the deaf or hard of hearing student. It is beneficial to both the hearing students and the deaf or hard of hearing student to see the educational interpreter assisting and supporting other learners when she/he is not needed to interpret.
A member of the school community − Schools are communities of practice and the educational interpreter is a member of that larger community. Most professionals in schools wear many hats and share many responsibilities that come with managing an educational program. Educational interpreters should contribute to the health and welfare of the larger community. They should understand and follow the professional guidelines within that educational community.
I wasn’t a team player today either. I really pride myself at always trying to see everyone’s perspective but I got emotional about the situation and did not behave accordingly. Bad, Jeanne!
I re-read the section on Educational Team & Interpreter to help me:
Classroom Interpreters – Collaborating with the Educational Team
The educational team is a community of professionals whose collaborative efforts and expertise foster the cognitive and social development of students who are deaf or hard of hearing. As required by federal law and best practices in education, the team must work together to plan, develop, and implement each student’s program.
Most likely the educational team will consist of the parents or other family members, a deaf educator, a speech pathologist, the classroom teacher, and an audiologist. The educational interpreter is a member of this team as a related service provider. The student should also be on the team if old enough. There may be other team members depending on the needs of the student.
Be a Team Member
The educational interpreter is an important member of the educational team. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) has identified the educational interpreter as a related service provider. The educational interpreter often provides the educational team with information about how well the placement is working.
Professionals work collaboratively to ensure educational access for a student. No one member of the team can design and implement an appropriate placement. It takes a team. Team members listen and learn from each other. When they disagree, they are respectful and professional. The interpreter can gain respect from team members by initiating thoughtful, informed problem-solving and decision-making practices.
Talk About Problems and Decisions
An educational interpreter makes many decisions during the course of the day. It is part of the job. However, the interpreter should discuss the challenges that she/he has and the decisions that she/he makes with the educational team. The entire team needs to understand the day-to-day decisions the interpreter is making. Does the interpreter alter content because she/he hopes the student will understand it better? Does the interpreter avoid fingerspelling because the student doesn’t seem to process it? Does she/he have to help the student initiate classroom participation?
Do not just talk about academic issues. It is valid to talk about how the student is interacting with classmates and teachers. It is also reasonable to discuss issues related to the student’s understanding of the interpreter’s role.
It’s hard not to let your emotions take over. I’m not saying emotions are bad, but apparently they got the best of me today.