The student news site of James Bowie High School

ASL teacher brings a new unique approach to teaching

September 20, 2019


Lainey Combs

The new ASL teacher, communicates with his students using American Sign Language.

As the new school year begins, students adjust to all different kinds of change, one of which being new teachers. One of the newest additions to the Bowie staff is Tyler Bazzi, the American Sign Language teacher, who happens to be deaf himself.

As a deaf person, Bazzi has faced many struggles throughout his life, some of which had to do with communication. In order to adjust, he communicated with others by teaching sign language to friends and people in the community.

“I became sort of a natural teacher through [the] process [of] teaching ASL,” Bazzi said. “Throughout my personal life, friends and family told me, ‘Oh, you should become a teacher!’ and so, I thought, ‘Yeah! I’ll give it a try.’”

His entire life was like training to be an ASL teacher, and through that experience, he became better equipped to teach others the language in its entirety. 

“Teaching is part of who I am, this is my native language,” Bazzi said. “Students will get a lot of little things from my life through my communication, my experience, and my knowledge.”

It can be difficult at times for Bazzi to communicate with his students that are less proficient in sign language, a language that takes motivation and effort to master.

“I’m only going to be using sign language, so if you want to be successful, you really need to be willing to open your mind and take the leap,” Bazzi said. “So if you [are] just kind of  apathetic about it, you know, you’re going to face a lot of difficulties.”

Bazzi’s teaching style is unique in that he only communicate in ASL. Photo by Lainey Combs

Despite the obstacles he faces, sophomore Elissa Wechsler compliments Bazzi on his effort and regards him highly as a teacher.

“He’s one of my favorite teachers, he’s really nice, and he wants you to ask questions [so he can] help you with them,” Wechsler said.

Bazzi is mindful in his pace in order to ensure students are set up for success in ASL.

 “He’s always slowing down and asking, ‘Do you know what the sign means?’ and then he’ll write it up on the board,” Wechsler said. “And he just has a really nice process and setup, [so] that helps us a lot.”

Just like any other language, it’s important to use ASL consistently in order for it to be of any use to the student. Taking this class allows a student to bridge the communication gap between hearing and non-hearing people.

“If you really want to learn the language, you’re going to have to use it, practice it every day, as much as you possibly can, either with me, with each other, outside the classroom, or even out in the community,” Bazzi said. “Maybe the student goes to work in a fast food restaurant and interacts with a deaf person. It [helps them] use their skills, they can practice it, and then become better and better.”

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  • L

    Lucienne NewsomJan 10, 2020 at 2:26 pm

    Michele, not to be rude, but I disagree with what you’ve stated. I take Mr. Bazzi’s class, and I’ve taken LOTE classes in the past, and the way he teaches IS different and more effective. The approach being referred to isn’t that he’s teaching as a native speaker, but that he only uses ASL in his room. students aren’t allowed to speak during classes, and instead have to sign and ask about new words to help them further understand how to construct sentences. The previous teacher, as good as she was, was an online teacher and didn’t stop us from talking during class instead of focusing on learning how to exclusively speak using sign. I hope this clears up what wasn’t explained fully in the article.

  • M

    MicheleNov 4, 2019 at 10:30 pm

    While I can understand writing an article about a deaf teacher, he is not using a new approach to teach ASL by using ASL. That is like saying a Hispanic man came into a school and his unique teaching method was teaching Spanish using Spanish… non-deaf teachers also teach ASL in ASL.

  • B

    Both FindleyNov 4, 2019 at 6:01 pm

    Basso is the best and we miss him at Lehman but he is an asset to any school he may teach. We are proud of you Tyler !! Keep saving the world one sign at a time !!