I arrived at work this morning to find the teacher in one, foul mood. I walked in and she was shouting and screaming at the children. I decided to just slip and hide away at the back of the class to see what the drama was about.
"WHY DO YOU NEVER LISTEN?! I TOLD YOU TIME AND TIME AGAIN AND YOU NEVER UNDERSTAND!" It occurred to me that she wasn't even signing to the children, she was just shouting and slipping in phrases in Tagalog. All the children looked startled.
She was trying to teach them some maths. She scraped the chalk furiously on the blackboard, teaching them fractions, and drawing a square with a line down the middle.
"THIS IS A HALF, OKAY!"
She told the children to fold their paper and make 1/2. Some of the children still did not understand (of course they didn't, if she wasn't signing). She went up to them, banging on their desks, ripping their papers. What have I just walked into? I thought.
It was an hour of me doing nothing, and watching her shouting at the children. I turned to the Filipino volunteers and explained what she said was wrong. They seemed to agree with her techniques, obviously because they've been taught the same way. It was 2 Filipino volunteers against me, and then I thought to myself; I'm literally the only person in this room who thinks different.
I couldn't carry on watching her like this, so I went up to her and stated that I had been doing nothing; is there anything I can do? She pulled me to the front so all the children could see me.
"SEE HERE, SHE CAN SPEAK. WHY CANT YOU ALL SPEAK LIKE HER?! WHY?!" I was speechless. There were two university students at the back who'd obviously heard me speak for the first time and they came up to me, asking me questions.
"What's your name? How old are you? Oh my god you live in the UK?! That's amazing!"
I knew they obviously came up to me because I could speak. They didn't speak to the other two Filipino volunteers.
I turned to the teacher and explained my family are deaf. My mum and dad, they sign. But they still go to work. The same goes to my aunties and uncles. Even if you cannot speak, in the UK, they still have jobs. The teacher looked at me with surprise but with a hint of disgust and walked off.
She eventually came back and sat down at her desk. The children were doing nothing.
"So, anything you want me to do?!" I asked. She stood up.
"TRY TO TEACH THEM SOME FRACTIONS, BUT THEY'LL NEVER UNDERSTAND! I'VE TOLD THEM MANY TIMES BUT THEY NEVER LISTEN!"
"So erm, you want me to teach them some fractions then?"
"Go on then! You try!" She was stroppy. So she gave me a challenge.. I had to prove to her that they will listen and they will understand.
I explained simple fractions, made them come up to the blackboard and draw examples, asked them questions. Of course, I didn't use my voice at all and signed, calmly. The two university students and the teacher were staring at me.
The children seemed to enjoy it. I then went on to harder fractions. They got it. I even made them understand equivalent fractions e.g. 3/7 is equivalent to 6/14 and so on. Finally, I taught them how to multiply fractions. Not only did I just teach them fractions, I went on to harder stuff. They are perfectly capable of understanding.
The teacher looked at me with no emotion at all. I told the children it was lunchtime and sat down to eat.
Afternoon classes start at 1:00, but the teacher never came until 1:30. She blatantly ignored me and did her own science class (which failed because she got angry again and gave up and made them copy drawings while she sat at the back, chatting away to another lady). I went up to her and insisted that there clearly wasn't anything for me to do and left.
I've just proved to her that deaf children can do it. She was obviously annoyed at the fact that I was right and she wasn't. Tomorrow should be interesting then!