We know that new professionals receive supervision, evaluation and professional development through their employer. Vision professionals are often working in isolation and the mentor/protégé relationship provides the new vision professional experience with a qualified mentor who works in the same field and acts as a support, rather than an evaluator.
Of primary importance and as noted in the Wisconsin Induction Guidelines, districts should provide a “Qualified and trained mentor* for the new educator providing support on a variety of levels (1-2 years recommended). District support to provide release time is a priority. (* holds a license and trained to provide input into the confidential formative assessment of the educator)”.
Benefits for school districts and administrators
What are the benefits for school districts and administrators of having new staff participate in the mentoring program?
Decreases expenses related to staff turnover and builds continuity related to teacher learning and retention
Increases professional expertise as new teachers of the blind and visually impared are guided to:
- Obtain educational materials that are free to districts for eligible students
- Receive technology on a trial basis along with technical support from the Wisconsin Center for the blind and Visually Impaired (WCBVI)
- Make use of free consultation services from the WCBVI Outreach consultants
- Learn about statewide family engagement activities and events
- Obtain vision-specific guidance for ongoing professional development
- Support for IEP development through initial and continuing evaluation and consultation
- Develop a thorough understanding of Wisconsin processes, policies, and procedures for evaluating and serving students with visual impairments
It is important to recruit and retain educators and we are excited to be a part of this effort to support vision professionals who can serve students who are blind and visually impaired.
Benefits for students:
- Higher academic achievement
- Access to high quality vision-specific transition planning
- Long-term teacher retention resulting resulting in consistent high-quality instruction
- Services offered in a universally designed manner to meet the needs of diverse learners
*In Wisconsin, an O&M must have completed an O&M program approved by the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) and hold a valid O&M license from DPI. For information about obtaining an O&M license, please visit the DPI O&M License page
To participate in this program as a Teacher of the Visually Impaired protege, the candidate must have a current teaching license. For information about obtaining a teaching license, please visit the DPI Educator License page.
If the candidate has a license based on reciprocity, please visit the DPI Pathways to Licensure page.
Apply to be a mentor:
Below are the forms a mentor candidate submits to apply, including the supervisor recommendation and the protege application.
Minimum contact between mentor and protege includes the following:
- One introductory meeting at the beginning of the period of performance school year.
- A minimum of one informal observation: mentor observes protege or protege observes mentor during the period of performance school year.
- One shared professional development event (e.g., webinar, conference, district/CESA/agency professional development)
- A minimum of two routine contacts per month (e.g., text, email, phone, mail, virtual platform, in person)
* trainings, meetings, observations, shared professional development may be virtual