Classroom Interpreting

Classroom Interpreters - Professional Conduct Guidelines

The Educational Interpreter is a Developmental Professional

An educational interpreter combines two major professional domains. First, the educational interpreter is an interpreter, a challenging profession in its own right. Second, the educational interpreter is a developmental professional, which is equally challenging.

As a developmental professional, the educational interpreter works in a context of supporting and scaffolding human development in many domains. Any adult who works with children has an obligation to foster social and emotional growth and development of self-concept and self-worth, not just language and academics.

The interpreter can help set goals for the child who is deaf or hard of hearing in order to foster development. One long-term goal may be for the student to graduate with a solid understanding of his/her rights as a consumer of interpreting services and with an ability to manage interpreting services. Interpreters need to foster and scaffold the student’s independence in using an interpreter.

At younger ages, students cannot be expected to understand how to manage the interpreting process. As students get older, they should understand and assume more of the responsibility for managing interpreting services. They should have a greater understanding of the roles and responsibilities of interpreters who work with adults.

The following figure illustrates the shifts in relative responsibilities that the educational interpreter has in comparison with students at various grade levels. This illustration is based on a model widely credited to Dennis Davino, who is involved in training parents and interpreters in SEE II.

This model demonstrates that as children develop throughout the K-12 educational process, educational interpreters have an obligation to foster development in many domains, including academic and linguistic, social, emotional, cognitive, ethical, as well as consumer rights. Fostering development requires thoughtful practice to help decide what may help or prevent a student’s progress. Of course, educational interpreters rarely have had training or coursework in developmental domains. Therefore, the educational interpreter is not expected to foster development on her/his own but rather to work within a developmental framework.

Teachers and other developmental professions must make decisions in a developmental context all the time. The context of decision-making for the interpreter involves many aspects of development, as shown below. The same illustration for adult community interpreters shows how different these contexts are.