Halfway

I have neglected this blog and I apologize.

We are starting the third nine weeks or second semester next week. Wow, half the school year is gone. I do have to say that it is flying by.

Earlier this year one of the students moved away, and now one of our interpreters is moving on as well. While I know that it is a good move for both parties, it is sad to see students and colleagues go.

On my own journey, I have gotten my results from the EIPA performance test. I did improve but not as much as I had hoped. I did pass the written test earlier in the school year. So while I’m moving forward, I have to remember that sometimes it comes in baby steps,

A week from today I am attending a workshop on voicing. I am actually really nervous and excited to attend this workshop. I love the presenter. I love the opportunity to work on one of my weakest attributes of interpreting. I am nervous that I’m going to be so horrible at it that I will just want to ball up in a corner during the workshop. I wonder if other interpreters get this anxious over a workshop.

This whole interpreting journey is crazy. I can say that there have been many times I have wondered if I’m on the right journey. Honestly, I love what I do. I wish I was better. Again, I think/or hope that is a common feeling among interpreters. It’s not something we often talk about.

Maybe we should. Maybe there should be a workshop about how it feels to be working towards things and it taking slower than we thought and how to cope with that.

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End of the Quarter

Time flies when you are having fun.  It also flies when you are just slammed with things.

This is the first year that we’ve had an active group of kids that want to do after school events.  That means more hours.  Yes, more money too but sometimes it isn’t “all about the Benjamins”.  I do love that the students, or as we call them..cadets, are getting more involved.   Middle school can be an odd transition and any connections you make can ease the awkward phase of adolescence. Having something to look forward to can really change your perspective on school as a whole.  I know it did for me.  I’m sure I wouldn’t have been the nerd I am (and I say that with pride) if I hadn’t been involved with band, choir, musicals and everything in between.  It made school fun.  I don’t really remember wanting to stay home from school.  I love going….

It is also a transition for the parents of the cadets. Having their little ones expand their interests means more commitment from them as well.  That means figuring out transportation and other logistics.  If there are lapses in communication at home, these factors can become complicated and turn into “situations”.  That’s when we have to stop and remember that sometimes the anger isn’t directed at us personally but at the situations.  It’s hard!     ….Ah…professionalism…how you save me so many times.

The best thing about then end of the quarter is teacher planning day.  No cadets means no interpreters needed.  Hello three day weekend! So while things are getting hectic…life throws in little breaks just to give us some breathing room.

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FRID Conference 2014

Wow! I just got home from Florida Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (FRID) conference. What an eye-opening experience.  For the first time in my short career, I felt like a professional.

I have been to other workshops, much smaller scale. Attended the Silent Weekend and the Educational Interpreter Project’s Summer Institute, but this….this was different.  The atmosphere was….well…professional.  That sounds so cliché.  It’s hard to describe, so I will use my “feeling words”.

I felt overwhelmed at one point, eyes tearing up and felt very emotional.  Why had I waited so long to join the professional organization pertaining to my career?  Why hadn’t anyone told me how this organization worked?  Why hadn’t I jumped in with both feet when I started out?  Was I not ready?  Timing is everything…isn’t that the phrase? So am I different now?  Maybe…  Perhaps I wasn’t ready to be a “Professional Interpreter”.  While technically, being paid to do something makes you a professional, I feel that I am still working towards that goal.  National certification may change that perspective. Then I can move from professional the adjective, to professional the noun.

Anyway, the whole point, is that I felt like I was in the right place this weekend at the conference.  Ninety-nine point nine percent of the people I met were open and friendly.   ….and encouraging, once they got to know my level of interpreting.  That was shocking. There was no judgement. No, ‘I can’t talk to you…you are nationally certified yet’ happening.  It was the opposite.  “Great to have you here”, “Keep doing the work, you’ll get there”, and “It’s all good, we were all the new kids on the block at one time”.

I am kicking myself for not taking the plunge earlier, but am thankful that I didn’t wait any longer.

Those rough days…

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.

From http://www.classroominterpreting.org/Interpreters/proguidelines/schoolteam.asp

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.

Just a few more days….

I head back to work on Thursday.  We have two days of planning.  Hopefully the students schedules will be settled so I can go talk to teachers and get materials for classes.  Hmm..wonder if I’ll have a space to store materials.  Ah…all the uncertainties of the new year, exciting and scary at the same time.

I’m really going to work on being more patient with school politics.  I want change, but I know that it’s going to take time before Interpreters are taken serious in this district.  Right now we are “labeled” as office personal.  With the new license bills that are being presented, interpreters will have to college degrees or equivalent. Hopefully that will me more money, recognition that we need a work-space of our own in the school, and a planning period so we can prepare for classes we are interpreting.  I have to remember that these things take time….

I’ve had a wonderful summer working on my interpreting skills.  Silent Weekend and Summer Institute are amazing resources and I hope to expand my workshop attendance more this school year. I already signed up for one on September 13th!!

 

Summer vaction coming to an end.

Two more weeks.  Then it’s over.  <insert crying sounds here>

I’m attending the Summer Institute this upcoming weekend and then have a few days off before heading back into the classroom.  Still not sure where I’m going to be placed but I should be back at the middle school.  I love the age group and I think I have a good rapport with the faculty.  Fingers crossed but I can roll with changes if that’s what’s in the cards.

Mentor? Hunh?

The past few months I have been a mentor.  Whoa…that makes me sound important.  Yeah…not really.  I really thought I’m not a good mentor, why would they put them here….with me?  The Intern (capital I because they are a person) comes and I’m having to help them with their craft.  What?  Me…I’m still a newbie myself.  I’ve only been at this for six years.  I don’t have the knowledge to pass to anyone.

Then something surprising happened.  I found that I’m learning right along. Taking the time to analyze another person’s product is making me look at my own work.  I have some bad habits.  I signed the word DEFINITION wrong for six years..what the heck?!? Thank you, The Intern for making me realize that.

Have I been a model mentor?  Probably not.  It’s rare that I have another person to talk to that understands what I do so I will admit that I have probably vented a little to The Intern.  It’s okay, they know and we’ve had some interesting conversations on ethics because of my venting.

Have I been open to having someone look at my product and provide me with feedback? Heck yes!  Any feedback is wonderful.  I love it when The Intern turns to me and says, “Why did you sign “blah blah blah” that way”?  Again, a chance to have someone questioning and helping me improve my craft is a great and wonderful gift.

The Intern has a few more weeks and then they will move on.  I hope that I have contributed to their learning in some way.  Educational interpreting can be difficult.  Especially during your last few months of an interpreting program.  We tend towards total communication styles in the district and that can really mess with your product when they stress “NO ENGLISH ON YOUR LIPS” at school and then they have to come and do their intern hours and have “english on their lips” because that’s what works best for the child. Oof!

I kid about the days The Intern isn’t there that I have to work but honestly it’s harder to sit and watch another person critically.  😀

I love my job  _\,,/