Teachers need to be able to hear well
I teach literature and geography to young primary school children whose voices are high-pitched, and this was a challenge because I have a high-frequency hearing loss.
Sometimes there are two classes in my area of the library, amplifying the competing background noise which everyone with a hearing loss knows is the hardest listening environment. It wasn’t until I was so successfully fitted with hearing aidsthat I realised just how much effort I needed to put into listening, hearing and interpreting what the children were saying. But my new hearing aidswith directional microphonesallow me to focus on teaching my group even though there is noise going on all around. From that you will gather that hearing aids have been an amazing bonus for me.
My hearing deterioration occurred over a long period, but it was only about 5 years ago I identified problems with the high sounds. While there is a history of hearing lossin my family, some of the loud concerts I’d attended and music I’d listened to in my youth could have had a bit to do with my hearing problems. Our school is big and pretty noisy, and I’d occasionally felt embarrassed and humiliated when I misheard what was said and responded accordingly. This year I was determined to hear what was said first up, as constantly asking for repeats is pretty embarrassing. My husband and daughter had just spoken loudly to me, and my voice was loud too. My daughter let me know she’d like me to speak more quietly and once when we were at the movies, I ‘whispered’ to her, and she commented that the whole cinema could have heard what I said.
Then I got my hearing aidswhich nobody can see, but I’ve told everyone anyway because I’m so happy! However, I was watching TV in another room one evening when my husband and daughter whispered to each other in the kitchen, and when I swung around and said: “I heard that”, there were big laughs and comments that they couldn’t talk behind my back any more. It’s much easier for me to join in on conversations, I respond more readily even when my back is turned, in cafes I can hear my name called, and I no longer feel like a silly old person and feel the humiliation of having done or said something dumb.
My advice to other people who need to hear better is, don’t wait, don’t put it off if you can afford it, particularly if you’re in the teaching profession because when you’re not hearing well, you don’t realise how hard you’re working and how tired you’re getting. At Brad’s clinic, it is completely different from where my mother went as a pensioner, because the staff here are really committed to their training and their expertise means and my life has been really changed for the better. It really is great.