10 October 2009

Becoming an eco-conscious ASL Teacher

One of the best things about ASL in the academic environment is that it requires less paper. Becoming an ASL teacher has helped me realize how eco-friendly this type of class can become...

By using ASL in the classroom...

-We reduce the use of paper and ink...
-We reduce noise pollution...
-We bring a sense of community with our ASL stories...
-And... we can use the language to bring knowledge about ecosystem and ecological conservatism to our future generations. Earlier this year, for example, the Gallaudet National Essay, Art, and ASL contest theme was "Going Green: What I'm Doing to Help Save the Environment" and deaf students from all over the nation participated in the ASL contest, signing their eco-messages.

Since becoming an ASL teacher, I've discovered that it is pretty easy to modify the classroom and teaching environment into a eco-one. Here are some examples of what I've done:

Instead of copying papers or printing text to give to students, I have them read their instructions on the projector screen and answer in ASL.
Instead of giving paper quizzes, I have them sign the answers (which I think makes them think constructively and remember more) on VoiceThread, a web-based interactive classroom where students comments are recorded into video through their iSight/webcam on their Macbook.
Most of the classroom decorations were gathered from other classroom's discarded pile of last year's decorations. My hallway passes are laminated so students use it over and over.
And the paper ones I must use, I reuse as scrap paper.
If I must print, I figure out how to double-side print things.
And, I try to bike to work everyday... being an eco-conscious and health-conscious role model for the students and staff. Many of my students have told me they thought it was "super cool" that I biked to work, which boosted my eco-ego. I love how eco-supportive our young generation is.

But... We also live in a world that's becoming more and more dominated by technology- I cringe just thinking about the amount of energy that my projector use to operate. The lights that we use in the classroom. The TV we use to watch ASL videos. The student's laptops. But I remind myself that these laptops are made by the eco-conscious Apple, and can be recycled into new ones. Can't always win with everything, but at least I try to use less energy.

And, the coolest thing?
A teacher found my email address through the EcoDeaf bio/profiles and encouraged me to apply for this job-- had EcoDeaf not existed, I would probably not have been so lucky to get a job like this one. Not only has EcoDeaf served as an information center for the ASL community, it brings people of similiar interests many opportunities!
Thank you, EcoDeaf!


  1. Wonderful post! I think once we become reliant on solar energy (I remember reading that if everyone had solar panels installed, along with corporate & government buildings, one minute of sun can easily power the entire USA for a year). Then that would cancel out the energy consumption of the technology in your classroom that allowed your class to avoid paper in the first place. But then again, e-waste is a very serious problem for landfills, and leaching into our ground water as well. It's very important people learn to recycle/return electronics to be recycled, instead of simply dumping them in the trash.

    And WOW about the Going Green contest! That's a first for me. We (EcoDeaf) should post each of the students' submissions here if possible. Thanks for the link!

    Keep what you're doing up!!! I'm going to the DC Green Festival in an hour, and will think of you and your green teaching approach! :) Thanks again for a great post!

  2. This post is eco-spiring! :)

    I eco-plaud you for riding your bike to work!! How many miles do you commute on bike to and from work?

    About papers...when I was visiting Gallaudet, I printed a few things at the library. I was really surprised that the printer printed on both sides of papers automatically. I was really stoked about that because it is pretty rare to see typical printers do that. That alone saves tons of papers from going to waste!

    Wow!! You got a job through EcoDeaf! Congrats!! The students are definitely lucky to have you as their Eco-Teacher!!

    Great post!

  3. That's awesome. Imagine the ripple of effect when more people do the same! Enjoy it while you're at it.

  4. why not have a contest of some sort in here (ecodeaf blog) too? :)

  5. is this summer we're talking about ?:) At first, I read this article on my pager, and as I was reading along, I was thinking.. wow that is so awesome-I def want to do the same thing and want to share with my mentor who's an ASL teacher at a community college who claims to be more GREEN than other teachers! Then I see it was written by Summaaa! Awesome, girl. Technology def has an advantage over paper in terms of teaching and saving the environment although we are using up electricity-as long as you unplug everything when you're done.

  6. I am trying to get certified to teach the deaf and hearing impaired. I can't find a College near that offers this program. Can someone help me. We have many deaf schools in my area and I have contacted them also, they have sent me out as far as 5 hours. A local community College offers ASL courses and I already have my Bachelors is that all I need to get a job??