Educating deaf children is a very rewarding experience. As a teacher, you have the opportunity to make a real difference in the life of a child. However, as you might already have seen, it can be a challenging task. It is for this reason that teachers need support to achieve the best results for the children in their classrooms. In this video, I'm going to discuss what support means and how to make sure that you get the support that you need. The fact that you are doing this course means that you are a teacher wants to find out more about deaf children. In so doing, you're already accessing online support to improve your knowledge and skills. Showing that you are taking control of your own learning. Well done for engaging with this course. I would like to encourage you to continue exploring online resources, even when you finish this particular course. We also provide website links of other online resources to help you with this. Online resources are great, but sometimes that can be confusing and hard to understand. You might struggle to find exactly what you need and what you can apply in your specific situation. For example, courses that address the needs of deaf children in a well-resourced environment, they seem to be irrelevant at first and it takes a bit of critical thinking to see what you can take from these to use in a low-resource setting. One of the ways of overcoming these difficulties is to establish a group of teachers at your school. You can look through online materials, including this course, together and discuss how you can use these ideas and see how they work in your own school. Researchers have recognized the power of teachers coming together in groups to learn. Learning is, in very important ways, a social issue that occurs best when we interact with others. There are different ways of coming together which can be quite informal through a community of practice or in a much more structured way in a professional learning community. What do these terms mean? A community of practice is simply a group of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly. In your context, this might be people who are interested in deaf issues, who are deaf, or even who are interested in human rights in general. Some of them maybe teachers, but they could be anyone with a common interest. Where people are working toward common goals, they might choose to belong to such a community and gain support and development from us. A professional learning community or PLC on the other hand, is a much more structured group that is usually associated with teachers in schools who meet on a regular basis to address professional development and improved classroom practices. This PLC makes a decision together, but what it is that they want to learn, and apply, and agree together on how they will undertake this process. For example, there might be topics on how to work with a deaf teaching assistant in your classroom or transitioning from sign language to written language. A PLC needs to be supported by the school structure. So the time is made available for meeting and the decisions of the group are respected. That's he head teacher needs to be on-board and maybe participate herself in the PLC. As a teacher, you might draw on both the community of practice and the PLC, depending on your own circumstances. Another support within schools can be the school-based support team, which is almost like a school committee in South African schools. The main role of this team is to support teachers, so as to address barriers to learning. This is done by providing opportunities for regular, collaborative, problem solving in areas of concern and to facilitate the provision of support when needed. When teams come together, they solve their own problems and come up with suitable and contextually relevant solutions and interventions. The school-based support team should be established both in special and ordinary schools and does not need to be made up of experts. The members could be experienced and committed teachers who believe in quality education for all children and who are willing to support teachers in the classroom to solve day-to-day problems that they might be experiencing. The school-based support team should also continuously create partnerships with community organizations such as disabled person's associations, non-governmental organizations, teacher-training institutions, and other stakeholders such as faith-based organizations. They could be called upon to provide training and support to the school to strengthen the school-based support systems. In a mainstream school, the school-based support team could also establish child to child and youth clubs where children with disabilities could meet and socialize with non-disabled peers from the same school. If you are best in a special school, the school-based support team could facilitate connections with learners from other schools in your community to establish such clubs too. This has proven to be a powerful tool to change attitudes towards disability. Support does not only come from within the school, it can work across schools. For example, schools within a district can form a cluster to look at areas where teachers need support. Special schools for deaf children and schools that have developed effective inclusive education strategies can share their ideas and help one another. Visits to each other's schools and access to specialized staff can be very helpful. The bottom line for all support structures is that teachers need to feel empowered to identify and address their own needs. In order to do this, you need to have control over the decisions that you make and be given the time and space to collaborate and learn from each other. This is something that school management can encourage in various ways. One thing is certain, when teachers are told that this is what you have to do and this is the right way to do it, your capacity for learning and your motivation to provide quality education diminishes. This can result in negative and resentful behavior, which can be disastrous for the deaf child. On the other hand, an empowered teacher who is proactive and collaborative can put the deaf child on a path to lifelong learning.