Steve Silverman earlier this week sat at the front of his fourth-grade classroom during a reading exercise, pulled out a crumpled ball of paper and lobbed it at a student.
With their hands stretched skyward, the George Washington Elementary students talked over one another and dove across desks to intercept the errant throws — Silverman’s version of calling on someone to answer a question.
When they became too loud, the 55-year-old teacher told them to quiet down, even though he couldn’t hear a word they were saying.
Silverman has been deaf since he was 28.
“When I did hear, I could tell the difference between productive noise and unproductive noise,” he said. “I miss being able to make that distinction.”
Silverman has spent 20 of his 32-year career with Burbank Unified’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program, teaching integrated classes of hearing and deaf students. It was the career he always hoped for.