Alexander Graham Bell’s most well-known accomplishment is the invention of the telephone; however, his first job was as a teacher. In fact, he was teaching at the Boston School for Deaf Mutes when he began creating a machine that changed the way we communicate forever.
Deborah Tubbs and Dana Smith share a lot in common with Bell: They are deaf education teachers and are also intent on changing the way their second- and third-graders not only communicate, but also integrate and socialize with their hearing peers. Ostensibly our most excited grant recipients judging from this video, Deborah and Dana designed their fellowship to attend the AG Bell Association for the Deaf‘s Global Listening and Spoken Language Symposium in Madrid.
In advance of the symposium, Dana and Deborah toured London schools with programs similar to theirs and with whom their students interact via a pen pal program. En route to Spain, they visited the National Institute for Young Deaf in Paris, established in 1760 as the first public school in the world for deaf students.
We caught up with Dana and Deborah in Madrid as their fellowship is drawing to a close…
What are your main takeaways so far?
“Deaf Awareness. Not just for a select few but for the entire staff and student body, including our students who are deaf. Everyone needs to understand and appreciate the potential challenges that can arise when communicating with individuals who are deaf. And it is up to all parties to anticipate and recognize when they occur in order to overcome them. For our students who are deaf, they must learn to advocate for themselves.”
How will this impact your students?
“As we come back to Davis Elementary School in Plano, TX and apply what we have seen and learned, our students who are deaf will become more confident in who they are and how they communicate. Our short term plan for our own learning goals can be summed up in two words: learn and connect. Each leg of our fellowship is providing us with both of these opportunities. We are learning from and and connecting with our historical predecessors, our British colleagues and our global professional mentors. Long term, we’ll use these unique experiences to help students become more confident in challenging listening situations, develop skills necessary to repair communication breakdowns, and evolve from a fixed mindset, where they are too intimidated to speak up for their communication needs, to a growth mindset, where they recognize the challenges they face and have the tools and strategies they need to become successful and effective communicators.”
Follow the remainder of this fellowship on the teachers’ Instagram feed @deborah_dana_fft.