“I want to mentor someday! I want to see people succeed and the field to get bigger. It would feel great to be able to help someone else.”
– Maria Schoville (left), Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Wisconsin School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
The WCBVI Mentoring Program matches novice teachers of students with visual impairments (TVIs) and orientation and mobility specialists (O&Ms) with experienced vision professionals in Wisconsin schools. This program strives to provide a mentor through the first year of employment and for one entire school year beyond the completion of all training and certification requirements.
Why do new TVIs and O&Ms need a mentoring program?
The mentoring program is designed to train credentialed participants in the practice of mentoring teachers new to the field, and to assist the new teacher in the transiton from novice to professional.
Working with students with visual impairments is unique because the Teacher of the Visually Impaired or Orientation and Mobility Specialist:
- Works with students aged birth to twenty-one with a wide range of visual, cognitive, and physical abilities.
- Is often the only vision professional employed by small and rural districts, frequently isolated from peers who could provide knowledgeable support.
- Must be able to interact successfully with parents, other teachers, health professionals, and administrators in numerous locations, who might be unfamiliar with the needs of this population.
- Needs to have well-developed organizational skills to meet the demands of a fast-paced job that requires flexibility and creativity with unique students, environments, and schedules.
An experienced mentor can provide:
- Opportunities for the protégé to observe the mentor in situations such as conducting evaluations, providing direct instruction and consultations, writing IEP goals, scheduling daily plans, and keeping records.
- Introductions to resources for vision impairment-related professional development, such as workshops, conferences, web sites, and publications.
- Informal observations of the protégé working with students coupled with supportive feedback.
- Networking opportunities with other professionals in the field of visual impairment.