Deaf Community Outreach is Key to Teaching ASL for Award-Winning Teacher

Posted Mar 20, 2023

Each year, Otterbein honors outstanding teachers for their impact on their students, colleagues, and the University. In the fall semester, Victoria Frisch received the Teaching in Excellence Part-Time Faculty Teaching Award. She teaches American Sign Language, Integrative Studies (INST), and Senior Year Experience (SYE) classes, and serves as the advisor of the Otterbein Deaf Culture Club. 

We asked her about her approach to teaching.

Victoria Frisch
Victoria Frisch

How would you describe your teaching style?

For ASL, totally immersive. My students and I are “voices off” for the first half of class, and quite interactive; students do a daily warm up exercise in ASL with a partner and often later practice in small groups or with another peer. Even for the voices on portion, students are moving around.

For my INST and SYE, I teach a bit, then let my students take the lead in digging deeper on their own and coming up with projects. I enjoy watching their curiosity and excitement build. Often their ideas are better than anything I could suggest.

What inspires you to teach?

I love those “aha” moments when students come to a realization. I also value the times when a student helps another student remember how to sign something by providing a helpful hint that worked for them. Students sharing something personal about themselves is very touching — I feel honored to be part of that trust.

What do you hope your student take from your classes?

I say this to all of my students: I don’t care if you ever use ASL after you complete this course. What matters to me is that you know when to, and are able to effectively advocate for someone with a disability.

Why are you passionate about the subjects you teach?

Deafness is an invisible disability. Deaf people are a minority who have been denied their civil rights for centuries. Central Ohio has a large population of deaf folks, and Columbus Colony Housing (CCH) is right here in Westerville. I love inspiring my students to communicate with deaf people, to understand their history, their struggles, and to bring their SYE projects to CCH each spring.

What is your favorite class to teach?

Each of my classes has favorite aspects: for ASL 1000, reading their Deaf Interaction papers; ASL 1100, dress wacky day (I dress wacky, first); for my INST, I enjoy all aspects of my assignment menu: grading the projects is like opening a present every week, I don’t know what I’m going to get until I open Blackboard! The last 10 weeks of my SYE class are my favorite, as my students are off campus at CCH bringing all manner of projects and activities to deaf senior citizens. I’d like to add that I am honored to be the advisor to the Otterbein Deaf Culture Club, and as a result, I am able to get to know my officers and club members on a more personal level.  

What do you think students get from Otterbein faculty that they can’t get anywhere else?

Our time, dedication, and passion.

What is one lesson you want students to carry with them not related to the subject matter?

Try new things. Step out of your comfort zone and you will be rewarded.