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Sign Language Studies

American Annals of the Deaf

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Black Deaf Students: A Model for Educational Success

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Parents, teachers, and staff can learn from one another. Parents of successful students can exchange information about techniques that they have found to be effective, and parents of older students in the school can help parents of new children as their children transition into the school. Parents of graduates who have succeeded in entering and graduating from college should be invited to speak to parents of continuing students. School staff can use the forum to obtain input from parents regarding the schools’ programs and policies and how they impact on their child’s academic, social, and emotional development. This approach will be useful especially when schools are planning new programs and policies or have controversial policies that are not accomplishing the goal of improving academic performance.

Information bulletins that focus on resilience factors—how to develop and enhance resilience in the home as well as how resilience contributes to academic achievement—can be shared with the parents. Also, these bulletins will provide parents with information that helps them identify resilience factors in the school and community.

Workshops to enhance parents’ communication skills will include sign language, open and ongoing communication skills, and active listening skills. These skills will enable the parents to communicate effectively’ with their children about transition plans. Effective communication skills will also foster resilience because parents will be able to directly offer the support their children need rather than going through a third par’ to do so.

Workshops will provide important concepts that will enhance understanding of the transition process from elementary to high school and from high school to postsecondary programs. They will be designed to increase awareness of parents’ roles in these transitions in school and postsecondary programs and of available financial resources. They should include panels of successful graduates and their parents to share information with parents and students.

The Role of Teachers

To foster resilience and facilitate successful transition, teachers can make their classrooms a setting in which all students feel that they are important and valued participants who can achieve academically to their potential. The following characteristics are recommended for teachers:

  1. Understand Deaf culture.
  2. Be able to sign fluently.
  3. Promote a caring and supportive environment.
  4. Provide challenging coursework and experiences.
  5. Have high expectations for all students.
  6. Promote open communication.
  7. Develop students’ problem-solving and decision-making skills.
  8. Promote activities that build social skills.
  9. Communicate high expectations for all students.
  10. Actively engage all students as participants in the class.
  11. Use words of encouragement and praise to positively reinforce appropriate behaviors and academic performance.
  12. Treat all students as worthwhile individuals.
  13. Use culturally relevant instructional material.
  14. Incorporate information about transition, including college resource information, into the existing curriculum.
  15. Work collaboratively with parents by encouraging their active participation in decision-making, exchange of information, the classroom, filed trips, and general school activities.
  16. Provide workshops on how parents can reinforce what is being taught in the classroom.

Young children can also begin to learn about their environment and the people in it. Teachers can offer age-appropriate information about careers and how people obtain jobs. Students can learn this information from books, films, filed trips, workshops and other activities designed specifically to enhance resilience and successful transition.

The Role of Support Staff

Support staff will include the professional development staff, dormitory staff in residential schools, counselors, transition advisors, and parental advocates. These staff persons, working collaboratively with parents, teachers, administrators, and outside community agencies can help make a positive difference in fostering resilience and academic accomplishments. In all planning and implementation of programs, it is important that the role of each is clear so that they are not duplicating or leaving gaps in needed services. Staff can help in identifying needs of students and parents and can be vital contributors to planning and implementing individual, group, and workshop programs. The key here is that roles are clear and supportive of each other. For example, the mental health team of social workers, psychologists, and school counselors will coordinate their efforts with dormitory’ staff parent education advocates, and transition staff in identifying needs and developing programs for students to foster resilience and transition activities. The mental health team plays a key role in helping to develop and implement workshops and group training sessions for parents, staff, students, and community


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