Lesa Young is an ASL teacher at Bella Vista, and recently, BV Newsroom conducted an interview with her. As her students may know, her ASL education is rather expansive, including graduating from the world’s only all deaf university - Gallaudet.
What made you want to become a teacher? I actually never thought I would become a teacher. Before this, I was an interpreter and involved in researching ASL. When I was a grad student I was given the opportunity to teach a section of Linguistics 101 and I had a lot of fun with it. I started looking into teaching at the college level, but an opportunity to teach ASL at a high school came up and I decided to try it out. I didn’t even think I would make it a year, but I fell in love with teaching, with supporting my students, and with the fun that I was having working as a teacher. Those kids my first year can all be thanked for me continuing the past eight years.
What is challenging for you as a teacher during distance learning? I would say one of the biggest challenges is students turning off their videos and not engaging. As an ASL teacher, I probably see more students than others, but as distance learning continues fewer and fewer students turn on their cameras unless it is absolutely necessary. Just last week I had one class with all of their videos on and my whole mood and the classroom environment was so different and positive. It’s also hard to see so many student struggling with mental health, motivation, and dealing with learning from home in environments that are a little crazier than a classroom.
Mental health has been a challenge during this time, what differences have you noticed in your students behavior? Students are clearly missing interaction, they are struggling with motivation, they are struggling to stay positive.
What do you miss most about in person teaching? I miss seeing my students’ faces, having one on one chats with students. I always had kids in my classroom before school, during lunch, and after school and I miss hearing from all of my kids.
Are there any positives about distance learning? Yes! I think there is a lot more flexibility with when students can get work done at times that work best for them, I think we have all had to learn to be more flexible, grow, and learn new skills. I feel like many of my students have improved their communication skills, actually emailing me to communicate issues, ask questions, and get support. This has also pushed me to learn about and use Pear Deck, and that has definitely improved my classes. I also like that the district has given us permission to focus on social and emotional learning and building relationships with our students. I also love that I can eat lunch with my husband every single day!