Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Visual Description:

White woman wears a green jewel-toned top and signs in front of a grey background.


I’ve been contemplating teaming quite a bit lately due to a few recent events. I’d like to give you some of my takeaways and see about getting your two cents on it as well. Just the other day, I had some job or another where I would be working with a team interpreter. I was thrilled when I saw her name on the assignment and thought only of how nice it would be to see her again since we had gone to school together back in the day but don’t see each other much now.

After we worked on our assignment, she confessed that when she saw my name, she was nervous instead. Her thoughts were along the lines of “Oh no, Katie is going to watch my work – what am I going to do?” I tried to figure out the root of the problem and asked if she that I was going to be rude or mean, but it came down to her thinking that I was going to compare our interpretation and that she felt she would come up short. For those of you who may not know me personally – I’m an absolute pussy-cat when it comes to this stuff. Her lack of comfort with me watching her work left me frustrated and distraught.

Fast forward to a few days later and I am scheduled to work with a new team that was not only brought in at the last minute, but also recently moved to the area. As we made our introductions before the work was about to begin, her signs took me back in time to one of my original mentors who has sadly passed away. Her style and expressions left a mark on me in a very short period of time. At that moment, I was able to put myself in the shoes of my previous teammate. I loved watching her signs and started to become self-conscious about my own work. I even noticed a few more small stumbles as I started interpreting before I got my feet back under myself again. There had been respect from all sides of both of these encounters, but that moment of feeling off-balance left me introspective.

Why is it we do that to ourselves? Our teams are there to provide and receive support with us! Quite often, most of our work is done without a team unless we are working an all-day job, but this is not always the case.

So, what does this look like? Are you excited when you see your team’s name on your assignment? Do you feel reassured? Do you get trepidatious? Are you defensive? Or proactive in working together? How do you typically react to your teams? How do you feel? How does that impact your work and the reflection you give to what is happening around you?

Now that I have given you a taste of some of my thoughts on this, I would love to see what you would like to share. What does it mean to you to be a great team? Signing skills and speaking skills aside, what about the teaming portion makes a difference to you? Tell me more about what you are looking for when it comes to interactions, feeding, flagging, support, visual information, repairs, etc. What does your favorite teaming situation look like?

If you are a Deaf or hearing interpreter, or if you are a Deaf consumer who has witnessed the difference between great and terrible teams, I would love to see your responses! What does it look like when each transition from one team to the next is jarring as compared to seamless transitions and feeds? I’m sure Deaf consumers can spot this from a mile away (although hearing consumers may overlook it) – and I would love to get feedback from interpreters and consumers about what makes a good team and what you bring to the table to be a good teammate as well. What does that ideal look like for you? I’d love to know more, so please share and respond!

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