The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

American Sign Language

Years and years and years ago, there was a family that moved into my community that included a husband and a wife who were both deaf. They also attended the same church as my family, and so we got to know them very well. The husband, Nathan, would eventually serve as my Scoutmaster for a number of years. As I got to know this family, I started picking up bits and pieces of American Sign Language, but I never became particularly fluent, but I did learn the basics like the alphabet, numbers, and how to ask simple questions like who, what, where, and when. I also learned how to ask for the bathroom and, at one point, I could order a meal at a fast food restaurant. (I don’t remember how to do that anymore, though.)

Nathan and Wendy moved away, but I’ve continued to maintain an interest in ASL. One of my older brothers learned it in college and my younger sister learned it and became a certified interpreter. Her husband is deaf, also, so the need to learn sign language has increased. As a classroom teacher, I have tried to incorporate some simple signs in order to improve classroom management and routines. Then a couple of months ago I learned that the district’s sign language interpreter and dead education specialist were going to offer an ASL for Educators course and I quickly signed up. Even though it is just a three-week workshop, I am excited to improve on what I already know and work on because even a little more fluent in signing.

Our first session was yesterday after school got out. While a lot was review of signs I already knew, it was good to refresh my memory and discover that there are some signs I have been using incorrectly. (Oops!) We also learned signs for simple commands, such as sit, stay, stand up, quiet, and look. I decided to start using them with my class today and taught the students what some of the signs meant. (There were several that they could decipher from my expression and what they were doing at the time.) I’m looking forward to using more American Sign Language in my class and helping my students learn to be more effective communicators. I can hardly wait until next week’s class!

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