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Spring 1998 Table of Contents
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Statewide Staff Development Update

by Dixie Mercer, Statewide Staff Development Coordinator, TSBVI Outreach

Lots of new things are happening in Outreach's Statewide Staff Development project. Several new programs are just beginning to get off of the ground. Here is a brief overview of these new and exciting opportunities for VI and O&M personnel:

VI Preservice Mentor Program - Beginning with the Preservice Development School (PDS) a VI training program which will begin this summer at TSBVI, every person who is working on a VI endorsement will be assigned a mentor. This is truly exciting for those of us who went through programs without the support of a practicing VI professional, and remember how lonely and difficult that road can be when traveled alone. Mentors will help to provide "on the job" training and practice with critical skills that range from how to be effective in an ARD meeting to how to perform a Functional Vision/Learning Media Assessment. We need VI teachers to act as mentors. You do NOT have to be an expert in EVERY area of the field in order to qualify. It is, however, important that you have at least four years of experience as a VI professional, that you are "people oriented," and that you are able to be flexible in your approach to teaching techniques and philosophies. Mentors will be provided with training and support, including the payment of a small stipend. If you are interested in acting as a VI mentor, contact Dixie Mercer at (512) 206 9270.

O&M Preservice Mentor Program - The PDS will also offer an O&M certification program this summer. O&M students will also be provided with mentors, although the structure of this program is still evolving. An O&M Advisory Committee has been created. All practicing O&M instructors in the state were invited to a series of ESC cluster meetings, and each cluster elected one representative to the O&M Advisory Committee. This group has met and tentatively outlined a preservice mentor program for O&M. Details of this program are not finalized, but if you are interested in being an O&M mentor, contact Dixie.

Texas VI Resource Cadre - The Texas VI Resource Cadre is designed to provide a mechanism for VI teachers to help support their colleagues and to obtain support for themselves. Their primary role is to provide technical assistance in specific programming areas to practicing VI professionals, Mentor Teachers, and preservice Protegee Teachers. The Resource Cadre will be composed of a group of VI teachers, ESC VI specialists, and VI university faculty who have identified one or more areas of practice in which they are particularly strong. If you are interested in being part of this group of experts, or if you know of someone who might be a good candidate, you can contact Dixie for more information.

Statewide Staff Development Plan - A new Statewide Staff Development plan is being developed. This document will drive the SSD program for the next several years. We want this plan to be as responsive to the needs of VI and O&M professionals as possible. If you have input or want information, contact Dixie.

Texas FOCUS - This year's Texas FOCUS will take place on June 18-19 at the DoubleTree in Austin. Our topic this year is "Assessing Students with Visual Impairments," and a sampling of our topics includes: "Selecting and Completing Appropriate Assessments," "From Assessment to Programming," "VI and O&M Together - the RSPI," and "Advocating for More Appropriate Assessments." For more information or to register for the conference, contact Marie Lopez at (512) 206-9268.

VI 101 - A new training package is being developed for non-VI faculty and staff who are working (or will be) with students with visual impairments. The package is called "VI 101: Working with a Student Who Has a Visual Impairment in Your Classroom," and it will include five stand-alone modules which can be presented individually during 1-2 hour sessions or all together in a full day training session. Each module includes a video tape, presentation outline, suggested group activities, handouts, and resource lists. The entire program should be finished and available for distribution by late April. For information contact Dixie.

These are exhilarating times in the Statewide Staff Development program, and we want YOU to be on board for the excitement.

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Last Revision: September 1, 2010