Logo for CIT 2020 Conference - Transforming Interpreter Education

Addressing Issues of Attitude and Ego in Mentoring, Teaching and Coaching Interpreters

by Sharon Neumann Solow

Interactive Workshop

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Our attention and focus as interpreters must always be on the product we are creating and the people relying on our work. A significant block to self-awareness and growth is difficulty in receiving feedback, assistance or correction and fear of being seen as incompetent, less competent or imperfect. When that kind of fear is driving the work, the interpreter is often closed to feedback and even to support from their team and/or colleagues.

We all know that the entire team is responsible for the integrity of the interpretation and yet many of us resist correcting our colleagues for fear of their taking offense, having hurt feelings or worse.

This story is a tragic example of the issues to be addressed in this session: Once an interpreter asked their team if they were interested in sharing feedback. The answer was, “Why? Did I do something wrong?” The first interpreter said, “No, but there were some choices I wondered about.” Then the initiator shared their questions and opinion that one choice was incorrectly used for the context. The response from the other interpreter was, “Well, I caught one of yours, too!” The irony was that the sign the second interpreter was criticizing had been on the first interpreter’s mind, wondering what to use for the highly specific and academic meaning of that word. But the door was slammed shut for discussion of choices as the other interpreter simply said the choice this interpreter had made was wrong and offered the “right” sign. With an attitude like that, it’s challenging to share and for either interpreter to be open or vulnerable.

This workshop will discuss giving and receiving feedback, teaming, Deaf-CODA-Hearing interpreter relationships and dynamics, having an attitude of humility and openness, creating and being open to opportunities for growth, making time for debriefing and other ways to be a life long learner and keeping our egos in check. Each participant will leave with new or at the least reinforced awareness and strategies to apply in their everyday work. In an atmosphere of respect, safety and acceptance, we will discuss participants’ experiences, concerns and interests.

This workshop will offer opportunities to explore these issues and strategies to address them in ourselves and our students, mentees and colleagues. Collective wisdom will be culled to determine new and creative pathways to healthier and more genuine dialog with one another as professionals.

Participants will be able to:

  • Evaluate more and less effective approaches to giving and receiving feedback
  • Identify ego-driven responses to colleagues and ways to address them effectively with students, mentees, etc.
  • Apply at least three strategies to their teaching or mentoring of interpreting.

A white woman with short brown hair wearing a necklace, glasses, and a brown blazer smiles at the cameraSharon Neumann Solow, MA, CSC, SC:L, works with great joy as an interpreter, interpreter coordinator, performer, lecturer, author and consultant. Her career of over 50 years, has taken her around the world. She has authored two books, Sign Language Interpreting: A Basic Resource Book and Say It With Sign and professional articles, chapters and handbooks.

Television appearances include talk shows, variety shows, documentaries and co-star of “Say It With Sign”. Sharon performs as an emcee and storyteller. She was the female lead in “The Electric Sign Company”.

She is a working interpreter, mostly in legal, community and conference settings, with a long history of classroom interpreting and administration. Some of her work has involved the use of international gesture interpreting.
She has taught sign language and spoken language interpreter educators and interpreters at all levels.
Awards: 2016 Outstanding Educator – Region V RID, 2016 RIT/NTID Award of Appreciation, 2010 CIT/RID Mary Stotler Award, 2005 President’s Award – RID and NAOBI, 1987 National Virginia Hughes Award for outstanding contributions to the field of sign language interpreting