As mainstreaming has become the predominant model for education for Deaf/HH students, more students are attending their local public school where they receive support services from staff referred to as “Itinerant” teachers. The term “itinerant” reflects the work model for these educational specialists, in that they usually have a caseload of students in several different school programs or districts. They travel among these schools to work with students on academic, communication, and self-advocacy skills, and provide support and consultation to school staff and parents. Specific services are based on the needs of the student and are usually documented in the student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP).
Itinerant teacher’s responsibilities include:
One of the primary tasks of the itinerant teacher is to support the student’s academic progress. This support can be given one-on-one outside of the class, providing additional explanation of concepts, reviewing and discussing class assignments, and providing examples and practice in subject matter that is unfamiliar or difficult. Support could also be given within the classroom by assisting students during work groups or in-class assignments, or in informal settings such as playground activities or lunchtime in order to address social and communication skill development.
Support for School Staff and Parents
Itinerant teachers work closely with classroom instructors, administrators and school staff (including school counselors, speech language pathologists, resource room teachers, interpreters, notetakers, signing skills coaches, captionists, audiologists, and audiology technicians) to help meet the needs of Deaf/HH students.They may also meet regularly with parents to review student progress or to address concerns.
Study and Organizational Skills
Assisting with the develop of study skills could include providing strategies for test taking, organizing study materials, taking notes from texts, and maximizing the use of notetaker/captioning notes.
Assessment includes evaluating student’s services, placement, and progress, as well as diagnosing student’s achievement for the purpose of identifying IEP goals and teaching strategies.
Since D/HH students are often at a disadvantage regarding the development of literacy skills, itinerant teachers often spend significant time working with students on language skill development. This could include English language and vocabulary (idioms, figurative and abstract language) as well as the meaning of unfamiliar language in the curriculum.
Itinerant teachers provide deaf students with knowledge about their hearing loss, how to use and manage the various services available to them, and how to work with school personnel to help students develop the self-advocacy skills for meeting their needs.
Managing Communication Needs
The itinerant teacher will work with audiologists and speech language pathologists on Deaf/HH students’ evaluations and interventions, and on appropriate hearing technologies (hearing aids, cochlear implants, FM systems).
Because Deaf/HH children are often unable to overhear or participate in many informal conversations at home or with hearing peers, they may be unaware of informal rules for social communication. Itinerant teachers provide intentional instruction and practice regarding conversational rules to facilitate peer and adult interactions at school and work, such as appropriate ways and times to ask questions, how to repair communication breakdowns, how to make friends, be a friend, and other social issues that arise.
As students approach graduation from secondary school Itinerant teachers collaborate with the student, the school team and the parents to identify post-secondary goals and appropriate activities to achieve those goals.