Students gain experience teaching in American Sign Language


Leander ISD students fluent in American sign language helped teach history and work through homework problems with a group of deaf students at Deer Park Middle School in Round Rock ISD, last week during COOL week.

The deaf education program helps teach deaf students and help them adjust to the world outside of the deaf community. This experience was both exciting and challenging for the interns.

“It was hard because when I’m talking to a deaf kid, I want to be able to interact with them and sign to them to connect with them in that way because that’s why I am here,” said intern Peyton Watts, a senior at Rouse High School, “But I can't fully get the point across when I’m trying to teach them or help them.”

Participating in COOL week helped the interns transition from the skills they use and learn in the classroom to the workforce. For example, Watts explained how she had a little trouble with new vocabulary being used in the classroom.

“I'm so happy that I get to be fully immersed in the deaf education program and the signing that they have here.” Watts said. “I was able to watch the interpreters and every word I didn’t know I would look at it and think to myself, ‘okay please remember that.’ It’s completely different than a classroom environment.”

The partnership between COOL week and the program at Deer Park Middle School helped the interns choose where their passion lies within ASL. COOL week opened a whole new career option and possibly a new passion of teaching deaf students for many of the interns, Soto explained.

“The kids are so funny, they all have such a variety of hearing loss, and it's interesting to see how they react with the language.” Soto said.

A few of these interns came into COOL week knowing exactly what career they wanted to pursue, but were surprised to love the way ASL was used in the field of teaching. COOL week opened up the world of Sign Language to show these students all of the possibilities they have in this field.

“I have said that I want to be an interpreter but also a teacher at one point, and I thought about teaching ASL but cool week has really opened me up to teaching deaf kids.” Watts explained. “It definitely has just shown me more options.”