The life of Matthias as a teacher of a deaf child.

Introduction to Joel.  Pronounced “hoe-el” in Spanish. This lil fella is five years old. He knows no English. He knows no Spanish. He knows no sign language. He cannot hear. He can make noises. He can “speak” through hand motions of his own creation. And so thus begins school. Joel is a very cute guy. He comes from a very poor family. He doesn’t take a daily bath. And it was discovered toward the end of the week that he has lice. Despite the uncleanliness, he is a great little student. Or should I say a great little guy. He lacks on the student end of things. It takes work to get him to copy the signs that I am showing him. He is easily distracted. A bug in the air. Someone walking past the open door…After about twenty minutes of “study” he wants to fall off his chair and lie on the floor. His attention span is quite short.

In a, quote, “normal” school day, we study various things. First, we have a devotions with all the students. Then we study the numbers. How do you teach the concept of numbers to a deaf child? Think about it…you can’t say, we are talking about amounts. About quantity. You can however hand him a block and make the sign for one and at the same time show him the number  1. Then give two blocks and sign and show the number 2. But how do you know he gets it? It takes time and effort and creativity. Especially as the morning moves on and he gets tired of study. We together we look at colors. I making the signs and him repeating. We color. We play with dominoes. We go get a drink. Of course, there is recess as well.

As we got farther along into the week, I would hand him one, two, or three of something and ask how many. Or try to ask how many. How does he know what how many means?  I would point to an object or picture and ask what its sign was. I could not get him to make it first. After I made it, he would copy. Then one day, Cliffton wandered into the classroom. Cliffton is the house parents little boy. At the time Joel and I were looking at a book with pictures. I had been trying to get Joel to make the sign for an orange. He wasn’t doing it. Enter Cliffton. Suddenly Joel wants to be the teacher. He points at the orange and makes sure Cliffton is watching and makes the sign for it. I go to the picture of the banana. Again, Joel makes sure the Cliffton is watching and makes the sign for banana. That was pretty cool. I knew then that he was learning. That maybe he just didn’t want to show me the signs, but when he could show someone younger than himself he was all into it. That was a highlight of my week.

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