Pedagogy in the context of flight, trauma and deafness/hearing loss. Subjective perspectives of educational professionals and future needs

Claudia Becker is professor and the head of the Department of Sign Language Pedagogy and Audio Pedagogy at Humboldt-Universit√§t zu Berlin, Germany. Her research focuses on education in the context of deafness/hearing loss including inclusive education, sign language acquisition, multilingual education with sign languages, spoken and written languages and social-emotional development in deaf and hard of hearing children and young people. Together with Prof. David Zimmermann, she founded the Competence Centre “Flight, Trauma and Disability in the Context of School” (FluKoS, www.kora-berlin.de/forschung-evaluation/projekte/flukos), which supports professionals in their school work with children and young people with refugee experiences. The focus is on pupils with suspected or diagnosed special educational needs. In addition, in cooperation with other European partners, she has developed the training programme “The Mind Readers” to promote Theory of Mind in deaf/hard of hearing children (https://protom-education.com).

High life stress in the context of flight cannot be clearly distinguished from developmental risks in the context of deafness/hearing loss (DHH). Possible developmental impairments are shown to be subject-logical and complexly interwoven with personal and social experiences. This gives rise to specific needs, of which the school is of particular importance, as it does not have to deal with past traumatic experiences but is always a part of a traumatic process – in a beneficial or chronic way. This results in a considerable need for professionalisation and institutional development.

The FLuKoS project aims to professionalise teachers through training/supervision and the compilation of information. The research (group interviews with 44 professionals including 8 deaf/hearing teachers for DHH pupils) aimed among other things to find out what experiences educational professionals have in their work as result of the traumatic experiences of pupils with disabilities and how this affects their professional self-experience.

Central findings are that social relations of inequality, lack of resources in and outside school, and professional beliefs are intertwined in complex ways. Past and present stresses of the pupils and the desire to manage them as well as possible at all levels – emotional, social, cognitive/academic – are often associated with high levels of emotional concern, stress and uncertainty on the part of the educational professionals themselves. At the same time, the new challenges also contribute to the development of their own practices and to school development.

Needs for the future:

  1. Binding support system for DHH pupils with refugee experience that is not limited in time and that refers to complex individual development trajectories.
  2. Binding system of cooperation with different actors and joint design of transitions.
  3. Supporting educational professionals to initiate reflection processes on their own practice, their integration in social, institutional and subjective processes as well as the impacts on DHH children with refugee experience and their families.
  4. Supporting colleagues to develop a culture of (appreciative) mutual criticism. Training and supervision must be an ongoing part of this process.
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