Tag Archives: closed captioning

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Image Credits: QuotesGram.com

Hey guys! Merry Christmas Eve Eve! Today is a really special day for me because it’s the 1 year anniversary of being activated on my right ear. Hurrah!

I apologize for the lack of updates. I know I promised you guys back in like August that I’d post on what it’s like to teach with cochlear implants…and now it’s the end of December…sorry! Between working full time at Penn Medicine, teaching 3 times a week at Rowan, and taking two graduate courses towards my MA in Writing, I haven’t had much time for blogging. But the good news is that winter break is finally here giving me a little bit of free time to give you all an update!

Before I begin I just want to apologize ahead of time for any major typos in this post. My laptop is currently on life support and the R, Y, 7, and perhaps some other keys I’ve yet to discover are currently broken. I’m actually using an external keyboard to type most of this. I know I should be less stubborn and give in and buy a new laptop (my current one is about 7 years old, after all) but I just love this one so much I’m not quite ready to part with it (and to be honest I’m waiting to be able to use my leftover loan money for the Spring semester so I can purchase one from the bookstore with boro bucks…).

Well anyway where was I? Oh that’s right…teaching. What it’s like to teach with cochlear implants. As I mentioned in the past, this past fall semester was my first time EVER teaching. I taught a class of 18 (well, it was originally 18, turned into 17 when one of my students withdrew from the class) three times a week…Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. All of my students were freshman taking Intensive College Composition at Rowan University. This was a first-year writing class for Freshman with lower test scores on their SATS that needed an additional day of class each week for extra support.

I am currently in the process of earning my MA in Writing and I have no prior teaching experience. I am able to teach as part of my MA in Writing program through acceptance into the Teaching Experience Program (TEP) at Rowan University. When I first started teaching I was honestly terrified. I think I practiced my first-day lesson about 20,000 times before teaching my first class on Friday, September 2nd.

I’ll be honest, I was a little nervous about how my students would react to my cochlear implants at first. Being silver and blue, they definitely stand out and are kind of hard to miss…something I’m proud of. I never wanted to hide my cochlear implants from the world and never tried to hide them on anything. However, I assumed most of my students had never seen cochlear implants, wouldn’t know what they were, and never been around a deaf individual. I felt kind of vulnerable on my first day of class. I wasn’t sure if my students would take me seriously if they knew I was deaf, but at the same time my deafness was something I was proud of and wanted to make known to my class.

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Here is a screenshot from my “First Day of Class” PowerPoint. I probably spent a little too much time talking about myself, but I was so nervous and they were so quiet!

While I did have a mini-lesson on rhetorical analysis for my first class, a majority of the first day was spent introducing myself to my class and going over the syllabus. I used this time to explain to my students about my deafness. It honestly felt kind of awkward. My students were SO QUIET on the first day. It felt a lot like “Bueller…Bueller…Bueller”. They just kind of starred blankly at me. I couldn’t get a feel for their reaction at all. Did they like me? Hate me? Find me and my deafness strange? I couldn’t tell at all. I felt strange talking about it though. I almost felt like I had to apologize for it like “Hey guys, sorry but you ended up with a graduate student who doesn’t really know what she’s doing right now and just so happens is also deaf.” I remember actually telling my students, “FYI…I CAN hear now so don’t think you can whisper and get away with because I will know!”I immediately regretted saying that…

My students probably forgot that I said that last statement immediately after I said it, but for some reason it really stuck with me. I felt like after I said it I HAD to hear my students and that asking them to repeat themselves would be like I was lying on contradicting myself and that it would cause my students to lose trust in me. Unfortunately, my students tend to mumble and speak softly on occasion, and this was especially true on the first day when all of my students were still really shy and fearful and not at all familiar with the college experience (they were freshman, after all). I found myself using coping strategies I used back when I was a camp counselor and couldn’t hear what kids were saying to me…I just smiled and said “Yeah” or something of that sort and moved on. Fortunately, this only happened once or twice on the first day.

As the semester went on my students and I quickly came to know each other and built up a strong sense of trust in each other. I would often tell my students they were like my children and I always meant that. I can’t begin to tell you what these kids meant to me. I wanted nothing more to see them succeed and nothing in the world was more heartbreaking to me than seeing a student who was not living up to their potential. By the third day of class I knew everyone’s names. By the 2nd full week I could give a little bit of biography or backstory on each of my students. I knew I was going to like teaching, but never expected to love it as much as I really did. I realized teaching was one of my biggest passions in life.

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As the semester progressed, I became so comfortable with my students and my deafness in the classroom that I even willingly shared this embarrassing photo with all of my students…

I became more comfortable with my deafness in the classroom as well as time went on. My students never questioned my cochlear implants or my deafness. They seemed intrigued by it, but they were very respectful of me and they didn’t seem to mind having a deaf professor at all. They were very accepting. I tried to use my deafness in my lesson plans wherever appropriate. For example, when introducing my students to the concept of Grit for their second project in which they had to join the conversation of Grit and connect it with their own personal lives, I shared my story of overcoming challenges as a deaf student prior to getting a cochlear implant. I explained how statistically most deaf children can’t read or write and how my initial elementary school tried to label me as being special needs even though I was very intelligent simply because I was deaf. I even shared with my students about how I challenged my senior seminar professor and filed a report against him for discrimination my last semester of undergrad. I used these experiences to show how I had grit – the passion and perseverance to overcome great challenges to succeed. This was one of my favorite lesson plans to teach. I don’t think I’ve ever seen my students more focused or attentive than they were that day. While my students didn’t question anything I told them about my personal story that day, it was clear that I had their full and undivided attention. They were hooked.

I want to use my deafness to inspire my students in my classroom. I want them to see that they can do anything they set their minds to, no matter how difficult it may seem. Whenever someone tells them they can’t do something, I want them to work twice as hard to prove that individual wrong.

I also want to teach my students to be loving and accepting of others and their differences. I want them to see my deafness not as a DIS-ability meaning “not abled”, but rather as meaning “differently abled”. I want them to realize that the deaf can do anything the hearing can do except hear. They can still succeed and have the same opportunities for success in life.

Lastly, as a professor I want to make sure I am giving my students every opportunity I can to see them succeed. I know what challenges I faced as a student not being able to hear in class (I didn’t get my cochlear implants until after I already graduated from undergrad). One way that I do this is by making sure I always air closed captioning on any video I play in class (I use videos when I teach a lot in class). I know it sounds like such a small gesture, but it can make a huge difference when it comes to learning. Remember, just because a student doesn’t come to you and tell you they have a hearing impairment doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Also, reading the captioning in addition to listening to the audio of videos can further help students to retain the information presented in the video and further enhance learning.

My first semester teaching Intensive College Composition I has definitely been a challenge, but it has been such a blessing. I had an amazing class of students who always kept me on my toes and I learned so much from each and every one of my students and I hope that they learned equally as much from me. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to teach them, something that prior to receiving my cochlear implants I never thought would’ve been a possibility. I am so excited to teach again in the spring and to see what my next class has in store for me!

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Delsea Drive-In

Image Credits: MetroKids.com

Before I start this post let me begin by saying that I currently live in New Jersey. New Jersey is home of the very first drive-in movie theatre. The very first one opened on June 6, 1933 on Crescent Boulevard in Camden, NJ. Some of you may remember me briefly mentioning Camden in my previous posts as it is the new home to WebiMax, my current place of employment.

New Jersey is also one of the few states where drive in movie theatres still exist. Presently, there is only one in the state located in Vineland, NJ called the Delsea Drive In. The Delsea Drive In is about a half hour away from both Larry and I. Vineland is about the halfway point between us (He lives in Quinton and I live in Washington Township). So it’s not too far for either one of us. Going to the Drive-In is something fun and different that people like to do in the spring and summer once the weather warms up a bit (it closes in the winter for obvious reasons).

My boyfriend and his family especially love to go to the Drive-In. When we first started dating back in September he used to tell me about it a lot. I always wanted to go with him, but I couldn’t. I mean, I guess technically I could of, but it never would have been  very enjoyable for me. Unlike most traditional movie theatres, the Drive In isn’t very accessible for the deaf and hard of hearing. They do not offer any kind of captioning devices like caption glasses or the little cup holder things. On occasion, they may play movies with the subtitles shown on the screen, but this is pretty rare. I am not sure if they do all of this by choice or because of the nature of the drive in prevents them from offering the devices.

To state it more simply, prior to getting my cochlear implant, I never would have been able to really hear the movies at the Drive-In. Rather than wasting my time and money going to movies I knew I wouldn’t  be able to hear, I skipped out on going to the Drive In all of last year. If Larry and I wanted to see a movie we’d either watch one at home with the subtitles on or we’d go to a traditional movie theatre where I could wear the caption glasses.

When I decided to go through with getting my cochlear implant, going to the drive in was one of the first things on top of my list of things I wanted to do that I couldn’t do before. I just had to wait for the drive in to actually open and for Larry to be home to go with me (remember — Larry is a truck driver. He’s not exactly home that much. This should be changing soon though, thankfully. :)).

This weekend was the first weekend Larry was home in 4 weeks. It was a nice night where it finally wasn’t raining, and with my parents being very sick, I couldn’t have him over my house. It was the perfect night for a trip to the drive in. So we went and gave it a try.

One ticket at the drive in gets you into a double feature of your choice. They have two different screens, but you are not allowed to switch between them. Last night they were playing San Andreas and Insidious 3 on screen one and Poltergeist and Spy on screen two. We met up with Larry’s dad who also went to the drive in and we decided to choose screen 1 — San Andreas and Insidious 3.

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This is what one of the screens looks like. Image Credits: TripAdvisor.com 

We got to the drive in at I’d say around 6:30ish. Larry and I spent a bit of time just talking to his dad and catching up a bit. I haven’t seen his dad since Disney so it was nice to talk for a bit. Larry and I got something to eat for dinner at the snack stand too. At about 8:30 we got our popcorn, went to the car, set up the radio, and set out our chairs and watched the first movie — San Andreas.

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The inside of the snack bar. Image Credits: NJ Star Ledger 

I’ll admit that I was a little nervous at first. At the drive-in you get the sound from your car radio (or in our case we bought a radio and put it on top of the car). I haven’t had trouble with hearing radios since getting my cochlear really. I mean, I listen to K-LOVE at work on pretty much a daily basis. This was never possible for me prior to getting my cochlear. But I knew the sound quality would still probably be a bit different than it was at a traditional movie theatre.

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Image Credits: Simandan.com 

I really had no problem at all with it though. I enjoyed it very much. Watching the movies late at night under a full starry sky was a nice experience. And I heard every single word. I can tell you a brief summary of what the movie was about without having to get something off of Google: A terrible earthquake erupts in San Francisco and destroys the city. There is a guy, played by The Rock, who works as a rescue pilot and he needs to try to find his daughter and rescue her. He lost his other daughter years ago in a drowning accident and is still very much upset and shaken by it. Now, he is determined not to lose the other daughter. The fact that I can give people a summary of it like that is an amazing accomplishment in itself. I wouldn’t have been able to do that after seeing most movies in the past prior to getting my cochlear.

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Image Credits: Vimeo

I really enjoyed Insidious 3 as well. Larry’s dad and I are both big fans of horror movies. Larry — not so much, but I’m pretty sure even he enjoyed that. The movie was kind of your typical horror movie where the characters try to contact the dead and it goes wrong and evil spirits/demons end up possessing one or more of the characters and trying to kill them. I have a bit of sick sense of humor sometimes and find horror movies to be kind of funny. Fortunately, my boyfriend and his dad can see things that way, too. There were many times during Insidious 3 that left room for a bit of comedy/making fun of parts of the movie or people in the movie. I enjoyed this just as much as I enjoyed the movie, to be honest. The second movie played until the wee hours of the morning. Naturally, it got dark outside. It wasn’t always that easy to really see Larry or his dad — I mean, yeah I could see them, but in the past I would’ve said I couldn’t see them well enough to read their lips. Prior to getting my cochlear this would have been a major problem because, as I stated in one of my previous posts, without being able to read lips I wouldn’t have been able to hear. That was not at all a problem last night. I didn’t even have to take my eyes off the screen to look at them at all. I could still hear both them and the movie well enough to add commentary and join them in poking fun at some scenes/characters without having to look at them or lipread.

I feel like going to the drive in was another small victory for me and my cochlear implant. It wasn’t exactly what I expected it to be — it was BETTER. I definitely think we’ll be going back a few more times this summer. This is a whole new experience for me only made possible by both the grace of god and my new bionic ear. I’m excited to see what other new opportunities or experiences I can unlock this summer with the help of my cochlear implant. One thing I know is certain: it’s going to be a great first summer for Larry and I.