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Am I qualified to Teach?:

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, March 12, 2007 7:24 PM
In a message dated 3/12/2007 2:17:55 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time, jssscarter@ writes:
I've been teaching ASL, continuing education, for nearly 15 years. For a few years before that, I freelance interpreted.
I am entering the world of "high-school instruction" and was looking into your program.  You mention a 3 credit college course, or ASL 1 being equivalent to a 1 semester High School Course. Your lessons/quizzes, etc., make it a no-brainer for an instructor. With the additional use of video, games, receptive and expressive practice, you have done all the work.
My question, to sum up, is the ASL1 and ASL2 program appropriate for high school, in class, instruction?
Suzanne Carter
Absolutely.  ASL 1 and 2 at ASLU is indeed appropriate for High School.  It also works well for home schooling.
Feel free to use the curriculum in your high school courses and if you develop any materials based on the ASLU curriculum you are welcome to forward them to me for (possible) inclusion in the curriculum or posting as "additional resources."
(Dr. V of

In a message dated 3/13/2007 3:53:33 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time, jssscarter@ writes:
Good Morning Bill!
I truly appreciate your speedy email. I never expected such a quick response from such a busy person.
I would like to ask your opinion on this situation. Your opinion, and that of other ASL Instructors, matter deeply to me.
I attended college in 1994 and received my AS in Business, and then went on to my certificate in Deaf Studies. I completed all but one course; the program was dropped.
I then immersed myself in Deaf Culture, Deaf Clubs, interpreting for friends everywhere, I lived and breathed sign. I did this for 5 years.
I then slowed way down to get married, have a family, etc. I stayed in touch with a few friends, one of which was teaching continuing ed at a vocational school. I attended with her for 2 years, soaking it all in, and then took the job upon myself.  My circle of friends truly felt I was ready to; and I did too.
This is now nearly 15 years ago. I am extremely comfortable teaching my 20 hour course at continuing ed. I introduce ASL and inform them of SEE, Total Communication, etc. I inform them of Deaf Culture; having had so many friends living that way it is easy to retract those years. I cut out articles in papers and magazines and we "debate" cochlear implants, a hearing president at Galludet, etc. I bring games, fun, and I truly feel I am great at that. I stress upon facial expression and give practice time at the end of each class to build upon receptive skills.
However, here is where my indecision lies: I am not immersed in Deaf Culture right now. I have not signed daily with Deaf people in years. I occasionally run into a signing person at the vocational school, but in all honesty, it is no more than 5-10 times a year.  When I do sign, I am comfortable, and simply ask the signer to slow down if I feel I need them to. There are parts of ASL I have never taught because of continuing ed time constraints.  There are signs I do not know and I am very open about this - we'll learn together. There are many English words I do not know either! I did log onto the ASLTA site and I have to be honest, the provisional scares me.  I have not signed fluently for 5 years. I can easily prepare a syllabus and lesson plan, however.
Your lesson plans for ASL 1 and 2 didn't frighten me..there are signs I need to brush up on. At this particular High School, I do not need to be a certified teacher. I have the Superintendent, my hearing frieds, my students, and the teachers in the building (because I substitute daily in the elementary school) all telling me I can do this. However, you and I both know that a hearing person without any knowledge of ASL thinks the language intriguing from the alphabet on; it is much more than that. This class has never been offered in this school district so it is appealing to all. I could do a terrible job and no one would be the wiser - but me.
Am I doing a disservice to these kids knowing that my receptive skills are NOT up to par?  Knowing also, this is an introductory class that is in no way preparing them to be an interpreter or teacher.  Am I misrepresenting  those instructors/teachers/presenters that are currently signing daily, immersed in Deaf Culture, and doing a heck of a great job?
I'm so sorry to lie all of this on you. I'm truly looking for an honest opinion, not a sugar-coated one.
In one hand, I know my limitations. However, I am able to pick up any resource book/video, study it over the summer to refresh for September.  I also know that I do not have a tremendous amount of self-confidence and am scared to death to try this for a year; I'm afraid to push myself and make a hugh mistake.
Awaiting your reply,
Suzanne Carter
Dear Suzanne,
You asked my opinion regarding if you'd be doing a disservice to the students at your school by accepting a position teaching them an introductory ASL class.
Let's consider:
You participated in a Deaf Studies program.  You "lived and breathed" sign language and immersed yourself in Deaf Culture for 5 years.   You have freelance interpreting experience.  You have taught a continuing education ASL course for 15 years.  You used to have a number of Deaf friends.  You currently interact with Deaf people 10 to 15 times a year. You have a collection of Deaf-related news articles ready to share.  You use games and know how to make your class fun. And to top all that off you are humble, self-aware, and concerned about doing a good job!
It is clear to me that you will do a wonderful job as a high-school ASL instructor.
I'm sure this next bit of advice is not news, but I'll mention it for emphasis:  As you prepare to take on this new assignment it will be helpful for you to "re-immerse" yourself into the culture and develop at least a few strong connections to your local Deaf community.  For example, pick a few Deaf events in your area and attend them regularly.  Make sure to stick around socialize afterward.  Develop a few Deaf contacts that you can ask for feedback on your signing. 
Have fun and enjoy your new position!
(Dr. Vicars of


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