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This section includes information about the benefits of having a mentor, the length of the mentor assignment, requirements on the part of the protégé, and additional supports available for novice teachers. 

Why do VI professionals need a mentor program?

The mentor program is designed to support pre-service training by introducing the participants to the unique intricacies and challenges of being an itinerant VI professional, and to assist in the transition from novice to VI professional. The itinerant VI position is unique in that:

  • VI professionals work with students with a wide range of both cognitive and visual abilities as well as ages from birth to 21. 
  • TVI or COMS are often the only VI professionals employed by small and rural districts. Consequently, they may be isolated from peers who could provide knowledgeable support. VI professionals must also be able to interact frequently and successfully with parents, other teachers, professionals serving their students, and administrators in numerous buildings.
  • In order to successfully serve students and meet the demands of the job, well-developed organizational and people skills are crucial.
  • Opportunities for the protege to observe the mentor in situations such as conducting evaluations, attending ARD meetings, providing direct instruction and consultations, writing IEP goals, scheduling daily plans, and keeping records
  • Introductions to sources for VI-related professional development such as workshops, conferences, web sites, and publications
  • Informal observations of the protege working with students during the first year of employment for the purpose of providing supportive feedback
  • Networking opportunities with other professionals in the field of visual impairment.

When and for how long is a VI professional assigned a mentor?

Individuals are assigned a mentor when they are hired by a school district as a TVI or COMS. The mentor relationship continues through the protégé’s practicum/internship period and extends one year beyond certification as a VI professional in Texas schools. In general, the mentor/protégé assignment lasts for two years.  TVIs/COMS who move to Texas from another state also qualify for a mentor for one year.  In addition, a mentor can often be provided for TVIs/COMS who have re-entered a teaching position after a long absence. 

How will a protégé benefit from having a mentor?

A mentor is a source of information and support for a protégé and a guide to a new profession. Some activities a mentor may provide include:

What will the protégé be required to do?

Protégés are required to maintain contact with the mentor.  Specifically, they will be required to respond to email and phone messages.  The mentor will keep a log on the interactions and will turn this log into the mentor coordinator in April.  Protégés will receive an email message in December asking for approximate interactions with the mentor.  Protégés will also be contacted in May-June for information related to their projected university/professional status for the subsequent school year.

Protégés and their mentors are invited to attend one of the three Mentor Centers (link)held at TSBVI.  where participants observe select TVIs and COMS as they work with a variety of students with visual impairments. 

What happens with the protégé and mentor do not get along?

The mentor coordinator should be contacted if the mentor assignment is not working for any reason.  Adjustments will be made, based on input from the protégé. 

Additional Supports for Protégé

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 VI or O&M consultant from their ESC consultant(s), and from TSBVI 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:

  • Functional vision evaluation, learning media assessments, O&M evaluations
  • Roles and responsibilities of VI professionals
  • Infant/toddler services
  • Programming for students with significant cognitive impairments, e.g., active learning, routines
  • Consult/collaborative vs. direct services

For additional information contact:

Chrissy Cowan, TSBVI Outreach Services
Mentor Coordinator
1100 W. 45th Street
Austin, Texas 78756
(512) 206-9367