Sharyn Fyvie is an itinerant Teacher of the Deaf—a role that involves working with local schools to assist children with hearing loss and their teachers get the most out of their classroom experience.
Having worked as a Teacher of the Deaf for several years, Sharyn wanted to expand her formal education. So, she enrolled in the Master of Disability Studies—Hearing at the NextSense Institute (formerly known as the RIDBC Renwick Centre) in 2016.
‘I had done a few short professional development courses with RIDBC Renwick Centre and knew they were the industry leader, so I was pleased to be studying there, but I'll admit I was nervous,’ Sharyn says.
Although it was daunting at the time, Sharyn’s decision to get her Master's has paid off, giving her newfound confidence in her teaching.
‘The Master’s has continuously helped me in in my role. It has given me the confidence to make more recommendations to teachers and be confident that I am suggesting the latest best practices for students, am not missing anything, and am meeting all their needs,’ she says.
This was particularly critical when she started a new role as an itinerant Teacher of the Deaf at Rydalmere Public School in early 2021—right in the middle of COVID-19 lockdowns and remote learning.
— Sharyn Fyvie, Teacher of the Deaf
I was able to bring all the knowledge and experience I gained from the Master’s to my new role and jump straight into it. This was crucial as I did not get that face-to-face support from my colleagues or supervisor as we were all working from our homes.
‘I reached out to the teachers and had a clear focus on supporting their students through remote learning and helping them make sure that their students were being catered for,' says Sharyn. 'It was a steep learning curve, and it was challenging, but I felt like I had the knowledge and experience to support me through what could have been a stressful time.’
Sharyn says she now has the expertise to branch into a new area of interest—supporting students with dual sensory disabilities.
‘Increasingly, we are seeing students with more complex needs and multiple challenges and I wanted to feel more confident in my ability to support them.’
Although her Master’s specialised in hearing loss, Sharyn says the course taught her where to access the latest research and how to incorporate what she learns into practical teaching.
She has been applying these skills in her independent research and reading into the best practice approach to supporting students with dual sensory disabilities.
Sharyn has also been working closely with the school’s itinerant Vision Teacher to share knowledge and discover how they can best collaborate to support students with both hearing and vision loss.
'I have a high school student on my case load who is blind and has deteriorating hearing loss, so I have been working closely with his vision teacher to work out how both of those things fitted together,’ Sharyn says.
Earlier in the year she even came back to NextSense Institute to complete a one-day professional development course on supporting students with vision loss to complement and build on her understanding.
‘The Master’s has given me really great knowledge that I have been able to branch off from and further investigate other areas that I'm interested in,’ she says.
Sharyn plans to continue teaching children with hearing loss and additional disabilities on a full-time basis and says she would encourage others in her situation to consider undertaking their Master’s.
’It might seem like a big mountain to climb at the beginning, but you will get through it, you'll learn a lot, and the sense of achievement at the end is incredible.'