Throughout the history of deaf education, and still today, many teachers have low expectations of their students. For some reason teachers think that just because a child cannot hear, they can't learn or achieve as their hearing peers. WHY? These children have the same cognitive capabilites as their hearing peers (sometimes even better). They have the ability to do ANYTHING as long as there is no ceiling placed upon them.
Today the 3rd Annual Regional DHH Spelling Bee took place in Bowling Green, KY. I LOVE this day. Deaf and hard of hearing children (signers and non-signers) grades 1 - 12 from around western KY participate in an academic competion. I've been the lucky one to develop the lists of 100 words for each competitive group which are used in the Bee. The first 2 years we used the same lists since we were just getting our feet wet. This year I decided to make the lists challenging for all grades - setting the standard high. I borrowed words from Scripps National Spelling Bee lists and countless other hearing Spelling Bee lists that I could find via Google.
All the teachers received the lists at the same time - about 1 1/2 months ago. So all students were starting to study with no advantage to anyone. Well, would you believe that some teachers complained that I made the lists too hard?! Of course I made them hard. It's a Spelling Bee. They are supposed to be hard and I have high expectations for all DHH children regardless of whether or not they are my students.
What was phenominal was watching those students getting the words right one after another! There were 3 students left in the 5/6 grade group. I thought there would never be a winner; they kept getting them correct over and over. Eventually we did have a winner, but I was incredibly impressed with the amount of preparation they did and confidence they had in spelling words like 'government', 'potential' and 'deoderant'.
I believe that every deaf and hard-of-hearing child has the potential in them to accomplish anything they set their mind to. We just need to believe they can!