The Sound of Silence

And in the naked light I saw ten thousand people, maybe more

People talking without speaking

People hearing without listening

People writing songs that voices never share

And no one dared

Disturb the sound of silence.

These lyrics are part of Simon and Garfunkel’s hit song The Sound of Silence. Have you ever wished for silence? Unfortunately, there are individuals who were born into the world of silence.

At the beginning of the school year, I was informed that one of my students was hearing-impaired. With not much time to prepare, I met with the hearing specialist for a brief lesson on how to wear a microphone that would transmit my voice to the student’s cochlear implant. I was also cautioned by the hearing specialist that I needed to turn off the mike when discussing confidential matters or the student would be able to hear my conversations. In addition, the student would require a signing interpreter to be present in the classroom. Upon meeting with the interpreter, he informed me that his duty was to sign what I said and what he heard students say. In other words, if he heard it, he signed it to the student. Also, the interpreter stated that if he was doing his job correctly he would blend into the class as if he was one of the students. Initially, as I began my lessons, I was nervous seeing the interpreter and the student signing back and forth. However, as the year progressed, the three of us have established a form of communication where we automatically know what the other is thinking– People talking without speaking.

I said, “Please listen carefully!” The second after I said these words I thought to myself, “How can she listen?” I expected her to sign to the interpreter that she misunderstood my directions. She kept looking in my direction as if to say continue with your lesson and I did. After speaking with her later in the day, she informed me that she could read my lips and understand what I was saying. It was after this conversation that I thought she doesn’t have a disability she has a gift–To talk without speaking and listening without hearing.

It has been a humbling experience for me having a hearing-impaired student in my classroom, and it has forced me to revisit the way I deliver my instructions. For example, I have decreased my rate of speech when giving instructions, which has benefitted my whole class. No longer do I have to repeat instructions since reducing my rate of speech. In addition, I have been made aware of the discrimination that affects both children and adults who are hearing-impaired. My lesson learned from this experience; we should learn to “Speak without talking and Listen without hearing.”


Manuel Chavez

Manuel Chavez

San Manuel, AZ

My name is Manuel Michael Chavez Jr. My greatest contribution to education is being able to relate my 20 years of work experience to my students, which I obtained while working for Magma/BHP Copper, one of the largest underground copper mines in the world. My intentions had been to work for Magma Copper Company for the summer and return to school the following fall to pursue my dream of becoming an educator. Twenty years later, I was still employed with Magma Copper and had held various underground mining positions with the last position being a heavy equipment mechanic. In 1999, the mine announced complete closure and I had been forced and given a second opportunity to pursue my dream. What a bittersweet life-changing event in my life. I obtained my Bachelor’s of Science degree in education from NAU and have been teaching for the Mammoth-San Manuel Unified School District in Southwest Arizona for nine years and am pursuing National Board Certification. In 2009, I was selected as an Ambassador for Excellence for the Arizona Educational Foundation and currently sit on the Board of Directors for Sun Life Family Health Care Clinics and the WestEd organization. It is my belief that by intertwining my classroom lessons with my own life experiences and providing my students real world life scenarios, students become engaged in the lessons and develop a desire to learn.

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