Before I moved to Phoenix to attend Grand Canyon University, I was enrolled in a sign language interpreting preparation program at my local community college in Colorado Springs. This program was not only challenging but also very rewarding. I was able to study another culture and language, and meet countless people that encouraged me during the journey.
I have been able to refer back to many of my experiences during those two years during my time studying education at GCU. I had a basic foundation for special education because of this program and was able to truly understand the value of teachers, interpreters, paraprofessionals, and students working together for a common goal.
During my sign language interpreting internship at a Colorado high school, I had the opportunity to sit in on a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting and see the unique process that was involved with creating a plan for this student. I also met deaf and hard-of-hearing students and interpreted classroom instruction to them in sign language. It was both a challenge and an adventure.
From interpreting advanced high school statistic classes to working with mentor interpreters from the field, my internship experiences taught me more than I initially recognized. I have continued to use the skills I established during that time throughout my educational journey. The program allowed me to see the importance of collaboration and inclusion. It gave me the chance to see firsthand how working with special education students can not only provide the students with the support and care they need but also deeply enrich my own life as well.
As I continue on in my education, I am constantly reminded of the importance of collaboration and relationships, not only with our students but with fellow colleagues as well. By creating an environment within the classroom that focuses on safety, acceptance, partnership, and inclusion, we are giving the students the best kind of education they can receive. Students from all walks of life will enter into our classroom and it is our responsibility to guide and instruct them to be the best members of society that they can be.
As we step into the classroom every day, we are given the unique opportunity to make a change in the lives of our students. Many of them will come to us in search of support, encouragement, and knowledge. We must do what we can to embrace this opportunity and realize that we are all in this together.
Read more about our October blog topic, We’re All in This Together: Collaboration and Inclusion, by checking out our recent blog post.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.