Frequently Asked Questions
Who is mentored?
- TVI who is newly licensed and working in the field may receive mentoring services until fully licensed.
- 1st year TVI or O&M who has completed a program will receive mentoring services for one year with an optional second year.
- TVI or O&M who is new to the state or re-entering the profession will receive mentoring services for one year with an optional second year.
*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, you must have a current teaching license. For information about obtaining a teaching license, please visit the DPI Educator License page.
If you have a license based on reciprocity, please visit the DPI Pathways to Licensure page.
Who are mentors?
TVIs are qualified to be mentors if they have the following:
- Commitment to serve as a TVI mentor for two years
- Four years of experience as a TVI
- Written administrative approval and support
O&M specialists are qualified to be mentors if they have the following:
- Commitment to serve as an O&M mentor for two years
- Four years of experience as an O&M instructor. Three years must have been spent in an education setting in which the prospective mentor served a diverse (blind, low vision, multiply disabled) student population as an O&M specialist
- Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist (COMS) preferred
- Written administrative approval and support
Personal qualifications for both VI and O&M mentors include:
- Good communication skills
- Solid understanding of teaching children with visual impairments
- High standards for self and others
- Demonstrates interest in professional development and best practices
- Ability to help others while maintaining professional boundaries
What are the benefits of mentoring?
- Mentoring offers individuals a unique opportunity for professional development.
- Mentoring provides a profound sense of satisfaction and growth.
- Mentoring a new VI teacher or O&M specialist can provide an excellent contribution to the field and helps to ensure the continued quality of VI professionals.
- Mentoring can facilitate the formation of new bonds and connections between professionals at various levels of professional development.
- Mentoring can be an important part of a mentor’s professional renewal process.
How to become a mentor?
Mentors may be self-nominated or nominated by either their school district or the VI staff of their local CESA. Applicants must complete and submit the following documentation:
- Mentor Application for TVI/O&M
- Professional Recommendation Form from someone with whom they have had a consulting relationship (regular education teacher, special education teacher, related service personnel, parent, O&M specialist, etc.)
- Supervisor Recommendation Form (If self-employed, this requirement is waived)
What does a mentor do?
Each mentor/protégé team will be issued a contact log to document activities or topics covered over the course of the mentoring assignment. The contact log for the protégé who is the TVI or O&M of record for a VI caseload will be different from the log that is used with a protégé who is not yet employed as a TVI or O&M. Early on in the mentoring process, the mentor-protégé team should review these activities and prioritize them according to the needs and desires of the protégé.
The appropriate contact log is given to each mentor/protégé team when they receive an email letter confirming their team assignment. It is a tool for the mentor/protégé team to use when planning content for team interactions. It is the responsibility of the mentor to maintain this record. Contact logs are not used to evaluate individual teams, but will be examined to get a global view of what is being worked on by the mentor/protégé teams.
Will the mentor be evaluating the protégé?
Mentors will not be asked to provide grades or evaluations. Mentoring provides a supportive relationship to the protégé, not an evaluative one. All mentoring materials are strictly informational and not to be used in an evaluative manner. This is in alignment with PI 34.01 which defines a mentor as an educator trained to provide support and assistance to initial educators. Mentors have input into the confidential formative assessment of the initial educator but may not participate as part of the formal employment evaluation process. If the mentor takes a new position in a supervisory role, they will no longer be eligible to be a mentor.
What is the length of the mentor/protégé relationship?
In general, mentors will be teamed with their protégés throughout the training period and for one entire school year beyond when all training and certification requirements have been completed, assuming that the protégé is employed in the educational sector as a VI professional. The actual length of time will vary depending on the training model. Mentors are asked to make a two-year commitment to their protégé and will be given the opportunity to continue on if the protégé’s training and first full year of employment takes longer than two years. Hopefully, this will provide the mentor and the protégé with an opportunity to develop a relationship that will become a professional resource for both of them. Of course, adjustments will be made if conditions change for either mentor or protégé.
What are the time and contact requirements?
For each mentor-protégé team, the specific time will vary and will be tailored for the needs of the team members. Mentors can expect their duties to take from ten minutes to two hours per week, depending on the needs of the protégé. With a protégé who has an excellent background in education, the mentor should anticipate the following minimum contacts:
- 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)
- End of the year meeting with protege
* trainings, meetings, observations, shared professional development may be virtual
Either mentor or protégé may initiate contacts. Whenever possible, a regular schedule of contacts should be established by the team members. It is the responsibility of the protégé to document all contacts on the Contact Log.
What is the impact of a one-year or three-year license with stipulations?
It is possible for TVI protégés to get one-year or three-year license with stipulations and be hired as TVI teachers in Wisconsin without taking any courses. One-year or three-year license with stipulations are NOT available for O&M specialists. For TVI protégés, those protégés who have a one-year or three-year license with stipulations and are functioning as TVI teachers will likely need frequent support from their mentors for at least the first year. Protégés who do not have a TVI caseload may need less contact with their mentor during their pre-service training but will need increased contact during their first year of employment as a TVI teacher or O&M specialist.
What formats can be used for contact between mentor and protégé?
Contact need not always be in person. The mentor and the protégé may choose to interact through a variety of methods including:
- In-person meetings
- Video conferencing
- Telephone conversations or conference calls
- Videotaped demonstrations or observations
- Interactive television
- Text messages
- Sending each other products/resources (articles, materials, kits, books, etc.)
- “Shadowing” of the mentor by the protégé
When is professional support available from WCBVI Outreach Services?
Sometimes it is not possible for a mentor to spend direct contact time with the protégé in the protégé’s district, especially when the mentor and protégé are employed in different districts. When this is the case, the mentor and protégé team can request that additional support be provided from a TVI or O&M consultant from WCBVI Outreach Services. The Outreach consultant will tailor the on-site support according to the needs identified by the mentor/protégé team. Possible subjects may include (but not be restricted to) the following topics:
- Assessment including functional vision evaluation, learning media assessments, O&M evaluations
- Roles and responsibilities of VI professionals
- Birth-3 and early childhood services
- Services for students with multiple sensory impairments: active learning, calendars, routines
- Consult vs. direct services
- Caseload management
How is the mentor/protégé working relationship supported by WCBVI?
- Both mentors and protégés can contact the Mentor Coordinators at any time with questions and concerns.
- In Fall, proteges will be contacted by one of the WCBVI program coordinators, who will introduce themselves and answer questions.
- Protégés are invited to network with other proteges; we can help the protégés contact one another.
- WCBVI sends an evaluation to help us improve the program.
What will the protégé bring to a district or CESA or company, besides increased professional expertise, decreased staff turnover, and positive student outcomes?
- Obtaining educational materials that are free to districts through a quota fund for students who are eligible; and
- Receiving “try before you buy” technology assistance from WCBVI regarding the latest technology; and
- Requesting consultation from the WCBVI Outreach team; and
- Learning about family engagement activities specific to this population; and
- Obtaining vision-specific advice from a veteran in the field; and
- Initial and continuing evaluation of students for IEP development; and
- Developing a thorough understanding of processes, policies and procedures for accessing services and Wisconsin’s unique eligibility criteria.
What is the timeline for training?
- Spring recruitment of mentors for the following school year.
- 1 ½ day mentor training through WCBVI in summer prior to the school year.
- Mentors will attend a mini refresher training each year to ensure demonstration of knowledge in federal and state statutes, administrative rules, best practice and guidance, and to review personal service contracts and business-related documentation.
What is the timeline for being matched with a mentor?
Following the summer mentor training, a mentor is matched with a protégé.
What compensation can a mentor expect?
- Monetary compensation per protégé, at the end of each school year
- Mileage reimbursement for travel to a protégé’s place of employment for required observations and other in-person support (1-3 times per school year)
- Lodging and meals during refresher and/or training provided by WCBVI
Is there a financial cost to a district, CESA, or company?
No, the mentor is compensated by WCBVI Outreach at the end of the school year and reimbursed for meals, hotel, and mileage for mentors’ trainings and meetings, and mileage to the protégé’s place of employment for in-person meetings (1-4 times per school year).
Who do I contact with questions?
Potential mentors may not have a clear picture of the administrative support available to them, or may not have such support but would like to be a mentor. WCBVI is committed to helping this process be successful. The Mentoring Coordinators will be glad to talk with district administrators, either in groups or singly, to explain the mentoring program and answer questions. Mentoring coordinators:
Mentoring Program Co-Coordinators: