Advice for Parents…

As a teacher, this is something I want to share with you. A lot of students, I teach high school, have phones of various technologies.  Depending on school corporations or high schools, there are rules about the use of electronic devices. Devices take away from peer interaction and learning, guaranteed.


Hiding the phone ain’t going to work.

Whoa! Wait!  What about using electronic devices for classwork or projects?  If our classwork and projects require, suggest or allow use of electronic devices, then that is worked within that restriction.

Otherwise – no. I find myself irritated by….the concept that the parents are an exception to the use of electronic devices in school.  I often find myself catching students on their phones (first, the subject I am teaching is American Sign Language and second, I am a visual person) and finding out that their parents are in contact with them, sometimes another relative as well.

Why?  Why?  I just wonder if their education is valuble or not?  Why?

Even on a dumbfounding aspect – employers contacting the students during school hours too and expect to be answered quickly. Really?  There has to be a boundry of respect for time established.

As a parent, I have to hold myself accountable to how my children learn and use phones/devices. They do not have phones…yet and when they do, they will have responsibilities and so will my husband and I.


Observe the students’ behavior and the information that is on the board.  How is the phone helping with learning?

I have other jobs as well and co-workers or employers know that I will answer when I can, often after hours, during lunch break or other available times. They acknowledge and accept that I cannot answer them until I can.  My children will have to expect this as well. I will not pick up my phone during teaching class to answer something, why should students do the same?

So parents, please please please think about how distruptive it is when students answer your texts (especially) or calls during class time.  Sit with your child and explain the importance of being responsible during their time in school and their electronic devices.

Supporting your school district educators and raising responsible children ready for the real world will go a long way.   Thanks!


How do you feel looking at this student?

Additional resources I found interesting (updated 27 October 2017):


a Tear or a Smile?

Vlog – a Tear or a Smile?

This hit me today. I have been fully aware of this quote as I go through life daily. Yet a conversation such as today brings this close to mind and heart. This is a question one needs to ask oneself periodically through out the journey of a lifetime.

So which is it? What is better?  The truth that draws a tear or the lie that draws a smile?**  Most of will agree that the truth hurts when confronted with it and with time and the chance to self-analyze the truth, acceptance and the chance to make changes, to improve, to understand and see things in a different light.

a tear


A greater pain is the lie that people just tell or let go. You wonder ‘let go’?  How is letting go a lie? It does not promote dialogue nor a pathway for change. A lie is not a simple thing, it creates conflict and dishonesty, hurting all that ‘benefit’ from this lie. A lie does not offer opportunities nor does it offer chances. It takes them away. That hurts more deeply than the truth.

I have said my piece, yet I want to bring something up. Responsibility. Many people think that it is the sole person’s responsibility for everything in life or in what they do. Unfortunately, this is not true.

I had this conversation once with my mother at a soccer game.  We were talking about stuff and she asked me why I did not use sign language at home.  I explained that it became a habit to sign at school and speak at home. She put the responsibility of signing at home at my hands, 100%.  I told her that it was also her responsibility and whomever in the house to tell me to shut up and start signing (I literally said ‘shut up’ because by nature I am a chatterbox, when the time comes). It is the both of us who are responsible for what we do, no matter how heartfelt our intentions are, equally.

Each of us may have a different type of responsibility and at different levels one time or another. No person is solely responsible for the outcome, consequences or actions that occurs. That responsibility is equal among others. This denial and placing the responsibility upon one person is a form of a lie.  When we do not stand up, then the lie continues.


Which is it? A tear or a smile?



Coded Education

From Facebook/my post: Something interesting…after talking to a friend and providing feedback/suggestions on the issue of Cued Speech, I decided to look at my coded sign systems presentation to confirm something… All of the coded systems were created before 1988 (Deaf President Now), approximately 30 years after the linguistic recognition of ASL.  The only coded system created after DPN is Conceptually Accurate Signed English (CASE), which borrows heavily from ASL while maintaining the idea of English grammar structure.

The education system for deaf children needs to heed what is already true…successful citizens need full language access, meaning bilingualism is critical for deaf children.

Language is the ultimate tool, all others are simple tools to achieve the use of language in the real world.

Cued Speech uses what ASL already employs in its function as a true language, the basic function of how language is built. We call this parameters, which functions as phonology structure of language. Cued Speech uses handshapes, location and movement.

The purpose of Cued Speech is to provide English language into a visual mode. In English, 30 percent of the language can be read on the lips, all else requires knowledge of topic, familiarity with person’s lips and the expressive ability to ensure as much information is transmitted.

CS is limited to 13 handshapes and three locations/movements. Those bring out the ‘hidden’ aspects of English – the invisible letters/words that are difficult to see, such as ‘N’ or ‘map/bap/pap’. Contrary to beliefs, the use of spoken language is not required, easy to do yes, but not required.

I really do not want to harp on this specific tool.  I want to bring to light the significance in timeline in how signed systems came into place after the melding and evolution of American Sign Language began in early 1800’s.

The start of ASL’s melding from different sign languages (Old French Sign Language and indigenous village sign languages, such as Martha’s Vineyard SiL) at American School for the Deaf in 1817 has continued to evolve over years, naturally human influenced. In 1880; International Congress on the Education of the Deaf (ICED) met in Milan, Italy (also known as Milan Conference of 1880) to place a ban on sign languages being used to teach subjects in school – globally.

Language Impact on Deaf Community

For the PDF version, please click on LanguageImpact


A noticeable difference in the quality of education for deaf children was not recognized until 1920’s. In 1965, a report was released from the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (mind you, 1965) outlining how the method of teaching deaf students using the oral method was not a success. From this time and on until before 1988, a total of 8 signed systems were created, in order to help deaf children learn English.  At the same time of this Babbidge Report, research has already shown that ASL is a bona fide language that deaf people had a hard time accepting that their language was an authentic language, conditioned by English/spoken dominated society, since 1880. This was despite the fact that ASL continued to be used among native/natural ASL users (whether be Deaf, deaf, hard of hearing, CODAs or hearing) in the community.

 This rash of signed system inventions stopped in the late 1980’s, particularly I believe sometimes before Deaf President Now in 1988.  The only invented signed system after this period is Conceptually Accurate Signed English (CASE); which borrows heavily from ASL while strictly maintaining the English grammatical structure.

 What is the difference between ASL and the signed systems?

 ASL has been around for more than 200 years and has evolved from a myriad of existing languages and has been embraced by children of any age.  I can tell you this from my experience growing up in a deaf and hard of hearing program before going to my alma mater and my questioning of others who went through similar programs that children take a strong reprieve from the use of signed systems, naturally, such as recess, break times, side conversations and the like, using a form of language which is similar to ASL. That is why when those students graduate from mainstream schools with the ability to transition between signed systems and the peered ASL, they have the easiest time being accepted and adapt to full ASL because they have already developed their social language with their peers, which unfortunately is less true today as most deaf children are isolated in their schools.

 Signed systems are based on the spoken English language, it is not natural. Also these systems have been created mid 20th century. While they may have the nice goal of building literacy; however, are often taken the wrong way. The main goal is to produce speaking deaf people, not literate, functioning and contributing citizens of the world.

 With signed systems, children cannot play, be naturally creative or produce new signs that fit their generation (fads/slang). They can do this with ASL and English. Children makes the language go around, adults take their experience and make their language static, often struggling with dismay or amusement with their children when they ‘play’ with language.

 The brain knows what it is doing, deaf or hearing. That is why children struggle against something that does not make sense to them, they will find a way to make it simple, creative, and understandable. (; Dr. Laura Petitto)  That is the flexibility we leave behind as we become adults.

For further information about ASL and coded signed systems go to Language or Coded System? (Prezi)

The Importance of Apology

When working with a group of people, some days they can irritate you to a limit that can make or break you.  My breaking points have been reached too far too many times in the last month or so. Most teenagers do not realize that they cannot always get what they want, nor does complaining about it help their case.

This particular day, I conducted a quiz with success during one period; however, it was the next period that had me walking out of my classroom. Consistent whining, asking for repetition, consistent ‘DON’T-UNDERSTAND’ and out the door, I went. It was approximately 45 minutes before I came back into the classroom.  At the end of the bell… this is what I got from a group of students.


Apologies are great, but they don’t really change anything. You know what does? Action. ~Stella Young

One thing that irritates me the most about students is their consistent ‘apologizing’ for what they have done, without understanding what it means. Apologies no longer have context, content and intent.  If accompanied with grins, mirth and laughter, the apology definitely has no meat behind it. It is a guarantee that the action will continue to be repeated. It has consistently been proven.

In this case, the main reason why many of the students were complaining, it had to do with the fact that their receptive comprehension skills no longer matter when using sign language.  They can sure sign but they cannot ‘listen’ with their eyes. They think it is okay to sign and speak at the same time at an advanced level of the program.

Pay attention to the person you are apologizing to, even if one says it is ‘fine’, look at the behavior of the recipient, it will be more likely you will find the person indifferent to such apology.  Then it is time for self-reflection.

Do not apologize if you do not mean it, period.

An Essential Oil A Day…

A part of an journey is trying to find what one can do in respect with personal health and the world in which we live in. I recently was introduced to doTerra, an essential oils company out of Utah. I am fascinated by the oils and how we can use them to improve our health and lives. I am still learning the ropes and so far what I have seen with the oils, continue to impress me. I have created bath salts, car fresheners, cleaning fluid and acne cream (also a moisturizer). I diffuse quite a lot too.

Today my daughter woke up with an intense ear pain in her left ear. I had to call in for a substitute at school and my son stayed home as well (I live 45-50 miles away from where I work).  A call to the doctor at 8 am netted me an appointment at 10:15 am.  My daughter was in pain so I took some drops of Melaleuca and rubbed on the surface of her ear and on her bone behind the ear. A few minutes she became calm and fell asleep.  She did wake up to tell me that her ear was better but I knew better and we headed out to the doctor. Sure enough, she has a terrible ear infection.

As anything new that comes into your life, do research.  What I have read and discussed with people tells me the nature of essential oils is valuable (as long as depletion and removal of nature’s resources are not abused, this is symbiosis that we are talking about!) and as old as the ages. How much have we modern humans in today’s age lost from the wisdom of those who have come before us?

Curious? Check out my site: 

I also created my own website which discusses essential oils in general, as well as some tips and homemade stuff.   EO With Joanna

Language or Code?

Here is a picture created by Deaf Revolution and posted to Facebook by Deaf Pride.  1005412_651677811526452_563298360_n

This picture is in conflict.  (I couldn’t make the picture larger.)  The concept is clear.

How do we determine what is language and what is code?  Code meaning a system that is created off another language to facilitate information exchange. Essentially, a coded system.

Here we have is a stoplight: Red (LSL: Listening and Spoken Language), Yellow (SEE: Signing Exact English) and Green (ASL: American Sign Language).

The concept is clear for many who have gone through denial of access to a natural language or those who have struggled with two languages: American Sign Language and English, mainly the spoken form.  While each have their own benefits or pros and cons, the one the most struggle with is LSL and SEE. When deaf people begin to see and adopt ASL, they feel that they have come home.

So ok, the concept is clear. So why is the picture wrong?

LSL: Listening and Spoken Language is the new word for Auditory-Verbal Therapy and Oral Method.  This is where many deaf children will go through in the beginning of their lives, regardless if they use technology or not.  This approach is common because parents want their children to be like them when it comes to language and culture.  The language in use in America is English. The emphasis is to learn how to listen and speak English, without use of sign language.  In fact, ASL or sign language is banned from use because it is believed that the use inhibits the ability to speak.

SEE: Signed Exact English is signs  based on spoken English. The most common belief is that the use of SEE in the education system will help with English literacy.  It does help certain number of children but not a lot.  The word order is based on English word order and often will initialize the sign such as the handshape F used in the sign for FREE; whereas, a fist is used in ASL.  Emphasis is to use signs in English order to make hearing people (in general) happy.  Only a few are successful English literate people, the rest are still confused to what is used in English.  Honestly, deaf people make fun of this system by using it around people who can’t stand it. Hehe.

ASL: American Sign Language is a living language, over 200 years old and based in America. This is what deaf people who sign use daily. Even if they use SEE, they will automatically switch over to ASL because this is the natural form of language.  ASL is a language tied to linguistic rules, just like any other language whether spoken or signed and has its own culture.  This language has been a growing educational subject and only just recently in the last 20 years joined the linguistic research field.  This is the language many deaf people feel at home with.

Ok back to point, why is the picture contrary?

LSL is an approach or a method that uses teaching skills, resources and materials to encourage someone to listen to and speak a spoken language.  The language in use is a language, no argument about that.  Again, LSL is a teaching method, not a language or a coded system.  Examples may include covering of mouth to encourage listening and repetition of words for comprehension.

SEE is a coded system based off of another language, a spoken one. It has no true linguistic rules nor does it have a culture.  The main source of use is in the education system as previously explained.  There is only one creole system that bridges English and ASL but violates both of the languages and that is Pidgin Signed English, not SEE.  SEE also simultaneously uses spoken English which ‘bastardizes’ ASL and English.  This system comes out of the total communication approach of the 1940-50’s, when educators realized that oralism was failing students.

ASL is a true language. As mentioned, the involvement in linguistic research field is new; however, it has created some influence on other spoke languages such as the concept of ‘space’.  Without the use of an interpreter, no hearing person with little to none sign language knowledge will understand.  Both hearing and deaf people require alternate communication methods to bridge communications (not languages).  Most deaf people are bilinguals – they use ASL and are English literate, who can or may not be able to speak English.  ASL is also a culture – a highly visual/tactile culture.  Lights are required, vibrations are necessary and how we approach people are different from other cultures.

You have totally three different schools of thoughts on a stoplight. Again the concept is clear, to us who know what this is all about.  We do acknowledge that there are successful cases for the first two, most often the world is broadened when ASL is added and deaf people, including children of deaf parents and some hearing people have found home.

Tough: Then and Now

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. ~William Butler Yeats

In the old days… yes the good golden days of education, we learned content of subjects taught.  We did not have the extensive testing process that the recent, current and probably future generations are going through now.

I had assigned my students a research paper based on Deaf History.  Perhaps I am being mean; however, what I do is also reflective of what I learned, yes from high school.  Those challenges set as a high school student is what prepares you for the future.


Back to the point, single space, 12 size font, I think 3 to 5 pages, a works cited page is extra and they have 3 and a half weeks to work on that paper.  I did assign a measly low number for points but since then upgraded it. I immediately get complaints from some students, who were vocal than the rest.  I even had a student show me his information about AP English, which was double spaced.

Honestly, it did piss me off. 15 plus years ago, I was in Honors English and Literature (10th and 12th grades). I also had, advanced or honors Political Science and History (10th and 11th grades)not as highly regarded as English/Lit).  Not all of the papers written were double spaced, nor were they one page papers.  I took Physics and Advanced Science in my senior year.

Several reasons I am pissed:

  • 15+ years ago, we had ISTEP, but we were not extensively tested like today’s students.
  • all of the papers assigned since they started class with me were double spaced, this is the first paper (and only planned) to be single spaced and intensively written
  • expectations are radically different
  • deaf versus hearing education standards, whether at a professional or student level
  • the honors and advanced classes I took… where do you think I took those classes?

The very same place that the state decreed in 2011-2012 that the students were performing sub par to their hearing peers in the K-12 system.  The place where direct communication takes place on a daily basis without discrimination, degradation or destruction of self-esteem.  The school, when compared to mainstream schools, performs superbly based on language, education and communication.

I also had my start from one of the best Deaf & Hard of Hearing elementary school program* in any school across the state. I am not lying. My former teacher recently presented at the ASL Coffeehouse event and she confirmed what I said: “I treated the deaf students as children, not only that but the importance of language was emphasized.”  She does not need to boast, she along with the classroom teachers, aides, speech therapists created an environment of learning through sign language (not ASL, one of her wishes that she said she wished to learn back then), communication and application.  Many of the former students have gone out in the world successful; however, we still have to deal with the darker side of our society: high unemployment and discrimination.


This was one of the few reasons why my mother told me it would not be a good idea to go to my local public high school my senior year. The opportunities that I get at this school will supersede what I would get at the public high school.  Naturally, being a teenager, we can doubt, hem and haw and eventually acquiescent to our parents wishes, to be thankful some years down the road that our parents are wiser and stronger than we are at the time.

I believe that I am tough to a point because education is not limited to K-12 but a lifelong endeavor wherever we go.  It is also not limited to the academic profession.

Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. ~John Dewey

*I also attended a well known and successful sign language D/HH program in Wisconsin. 20 something years later, it caters to the oral D/HH program.

School as Home

Hi!  It has been a while!  Teaching high school is quite a challenge. It seems that my expectations of high school does not fit the ideals we should be familiar with in the 21st century.  Makes me wonder if my kids will hate me when it comes to their teenage years, I do not mean ‘hate’, but be annoyed or well, what I did to my parents back then.

There is one thing I noticed that seems to be a trend, how students treat their schools as if they are at home.

Should we have uniforms? Yep

Just leave the hair and shoes at a fashionable focus (I need visual cues/items to teach ASL with) and bring back the uniforms.  I have noticed that how you dress affects how you behave.  Believe me, there is a big difference.  Yet it is a huge deal with parents, kids and school corporations.  (

Costs. Restricted creativity process. Possible discrimination.  Misbehavior. Academic achievement whether it happens or not.

For instance, I see students walking around in slippers rather than shoes, good kind of shoes that will keep your legs healthy (cheap or expensive, regardless).  Students throw stuff on the floor.  I do know that we have janitors but would  you want the students to be throwing stuff around on the floor at their jobs too?  Books are disrespected. I have had a total of 20 books where the spine is ripped out and now duct taped (whoo!).  I have had students draw obscene pictures in the textbooks.

I am not saying that we should treat schools like workplaces. Gosh there is an issue out there brought forth by business people that schools should be treated like businesses. Okay there is a line to be drawn here!  Nonetheless, schools should be a stepping stone or a transition to the real world; whether it be college or a job. Come to think of it, most jobs have uniforms.  Fast food, business people, teachers (that’s why we have Casual Fridays), auto mechanics and you name it.

Maybe uniforms are restrictive due to certain fashion statements, should not one be excited when one gets home or brings a change of clothes (for activities) to get into when school is out?  Uniforms don’t have to be 190 days; there could be certain days, like Fridays or Spirit Week where we can let loose and have fun, within reason naturally.

Sometimes too much freedom provides slack in responsibility and thought processes.  Our students will not be prepared for the real world with this much freedom.  Which means, we need to define what freedom really means to us, free will, free choice or the freedom to screw everything else based on teenage hormones?

I still will go for school uniforms for students. It is a responsibility and we have other ways of releasing our creative inputs.  (if one can draw obscene stuff in textbooks, that’s surely a creative input, albeit inappropriate.

Continue reading

Soapbox/Myth: Cochlear Implants and Reality

My first day of teaching high school, in four straight classes, there was a student who asked me about cochlear implants (CI). So I told the students the truth, the concept of cochlear implants is bigger than the technology. It can fail or succeed, we still have to look at the whole person, not the technology.  Am I personally in favor of it? No, not because of the technology. It is that people abuse the concept of CI to ensure “success stories” based on what the general population want TO HEAR.  To a few, being deaf is the ultimate evil.

For many of us being deaf is a blessing and miracle.  We get to live a life of our own making. Granted, not everything is accessible, we are further proof that humans cannot be static. Think Darwin and Wallace. We struggle, but what is life without struggle? Why deny that?  Our ‘limitation’ has made some of us strive in our fields of profession and in our personal dealings with the human race.

For that few who believe in that evil, they have the “power” of the spoken word which they share with the general population. What we have is a common feature of stereotyping.  Good stories are hard to get because they are hidden from “drama” that reporters love.  How many stories of common deaf people without CIs are out there? What aout the opposite? stories of people with CIs who have failed because they did not GET ALL THEY NEEDED?

Technology, as I said once before, is like the human body. It can fail, the question is that how do we adapt to the changes. Remember biology and chemistry is the beginning point of our lives, among a few other things.  So when biology or chemistry fails us, we supplement; however, we cry that if others do not follow through with the ‘supplement’ that their lives are forfeit to the whims of the ‘superior’ population.

Humans are not meant to be robots or to be defined by their technology but by their WHOLE. We cannot pick or choose but accept what we have within us and acknowledge that we have room to change and/or improve. The same can be said for those who choose the path that causes their downfall.

CIs are not natural. The technology is NOT a miracle.  It is JUST a TOOL. The WHOLE is more than the SUM of the PARTS, and CI is just A  part.  I can get past the CI and get to the point of the child by asking questions with behavior, language and education.  These are equally important as they are the foundation of the child as he/she grows up and go through the stages of life.

As a friend likes to say, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink it.”  One can choose implant self or another but do not expect a miracle.  I am sorry, this is a harsh fact.  There is a lot of work to be done on the WHOLE when you have only ONE part.

One cannot complete a puzzle with only one puzzle.

The Truth…. as You see Fit.

“Our days on earth are as fleeting as a shadow. But those who came before us will teach you. They will teach you the wisdom of the old. Can papyrus reeds grow tall without a marsh? Can marsh grass flourish without water? While they are still flowering, not ready to be cut, they begin to wither more quickly than grass. The same happens to all who forget God.” Job 8:8-13a

The Senators on the Appropriations Committee voted to pass House Bill 1367 10 to 1. Not surprisingly, several senators turned their backs on the people whom they said would vote ‘no’ to the bill. While the point of the bill has a valid point, is the placement of Outreach in terms of services; however, not where it is. The chance for positive change is minimal.

Why? The only positive change is that it will be placed on a pedestal higher than Indiana School for the Deaf; however, the rest of it is what will go wrong.  Indiana is the first domino and the world is half watching, not believing it is real. Look at California two years ago (AB 2072) and New York last year (4201 Schools), all that work will be wiped out with Indiana. The chance of bilingual success will come to a resounding crash…. once again.

Once again? It happened 130 years ago and its influence is still felt today.  The new face of the people pushing for monolingual education on deaf and hard of hearing? Cochlear Implants.  Yes it is, that is why HEAR Indiana’s slogan says “Doing Deaf Differently”, it has nothing to do with people but to do with cochlear implants.

It feels like me again when I was young out in the real world. My being deaf is ALL of me. The little piece of the puzzle that makes me, me is an entire puzzle piece.

The bill addresses only one piece of the puzzle and offers no solution for the other pieces of the puzzle. Here is one piece… I have heard stories but hands (mine and the interpreters/aides) are tied: Sign Language Interpreters in Mainstream Classrooms: Heartbroken and Gagged;

Know what Outreach did? They brought in Hands and Voices, a parent organization supporting bilingual use in families (guess what, they turned their backs on Outreach and rejected deaf/hard of hearing participants by giving them hard times and treating them like children, all if not most are parents of deaf children), they established an annual conference for teachers of the deaf and education interpreters in the summer (I have gone to 5 of them and I am neither, *addicted*/St. Joseph only attended 2 conferences) and improved services drastically since its formal recognition in 1999 (at no extra cost to the state and its taxpayers).  The curriculum in use for working with families includes ALL sorts of information from English to ASL to bilingualism and from no technology to cochlear implants to name a few.

So why am I so whoo whoo about Outreach? I have had the greatest opportunity to participate in several programs/services with Outreach and can attest that I have been challenged over and over again with my personal preferences, education and knowledge.  So this Outreach is at risk, yes at risk, for destruction of unbiased information and an agenda that promotes apathy, monolingualism and a lack of quality education.

Speech does not make education.

That is the past, present and future. The wisdom of the past is defiled. Many of us are beginning to be business owners, partners with hearing people and opening our eyes to the world that has been denied us for generations, with an exception of few families who defied the oppression and pushed for their children to be successful in the real world with ALL tools and resources.

This is one piece of the puzzle of what it is to be a human being. The ecosystem is another piece: “Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.” Tribe unknown.

By placing ourselves above the kingdom of animals by calling ourselves just human will be our undoing. That is another piece of the puzzle missing. The White Americans placing themselves above the Native Indians and Latinos of the New World will be their undoing. A puzzle missing.

“Father forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”