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Winter 2004 Table of Contents
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Solving Their Problem: A Strong Recruitment Strategy

By KC Dignan, Ph.D., Professional Preparation Coordinator, TSBVI

Abstract: A discussion of recruitment of VI professionals: how to frame your message to encourage those in related fields to consider VI as a profession.

Key Words: blindness, VI professionals, VI teachers, COMS, professional development, VI teacher certification

Recruiting people into a profession, (or spreading the word about a profession) and encouraging someone to hire a VI professional is long-term event; not something that is usually completed in a day, or a single meeting. However, there are some good strategies to help you. Among the most effective is using your message to help solve their problem.

Here is a scenario that you've probably experienced: Another educator or therapist seems interested in the student you both serve. She is asking questions beyond just the basic questions. She is asking questions such as "Is braille hard to learn?" or "How does he know which doorway is to the boys bathroom?" The people in your world might be different, however, the theme is the same: someone in a related profession expresses interest.

In this scenario, the teacher has been a teacher for about seven years or so. Recent surveys tell us that this is a point when many people changed careers and became a vision-related profession. So, as a recruiter, you start to look for signs of restlessness or curiosity about other professions. Also, you begin to think about the type of teacher or therapist this person is.

If so, it is possible that she is ready for a new challenge. She may be beginning to feel like a change, but does not yet know what that change might be. You can help her to solve her problem; become a VI professional.

No one will step outside of their "comfort zone" or spend precious resources to help you solve your problem: that of not having enough VI professionals, of having caseloads that are too large. Nor are people interested in retrofitting skills and services because you are not brought into the service plan sooner. People are interested in solving their problem. You can help meet your needs by helping them to solve their problem.

How can you do this?

You can do this by how you "frame" your message or actions.

Speak from a position of strength

Instead of complaining about how many students or consumers you must work with, invite the teacher to be your partner in serving the wide diversity of students with whom you interact.

Show them the options

If someone is considering a change, help them to see that working in a VI profession is interesting, stimulating, and has the appeal of being a bit nontraditional. Discuss the satisfaction achieved as a result of knowing that your work makes a difference in children's lives. You can make it easy for the teacher to see this by inviting the teacher to spend her planning hour, or staff development day shadowing you. Then have fun and show off your students and your profession.

Demonstrate performance

Let directors know how hiring a VI professional will help them solve a problem they are dealing with; how hiring, or getting someone in training will either improve student performance or save the district money by having more "in-house" services.

When you "frame" your message from the point of view of the listener, you will be come a stronger communicator, and a better recruiter. Oh yes, and will help solve Your problem.

Texas residents who are interested in working with children with visual impairments have three options for instruction. All of the programs listed require a bachelor's degree. Certification as VI teacher requires a teaching certificate in some other area. O&M specialists are not required to have a teaching degree. Tuition stipends are available for Texas residents.

For more information about programs in Texas, including university websites, you can read the biannual training newsletters at <http://www.tsbvi.edu/pds/fall01.htm>. You can also contact KC Dignan, Ph.D. at <kcd@TSBVI.edu>.

For information about training programs outside of Texas, you can visit the University Directory webpage: <www.tsbvi.edu/pds/universities.htm>. You will find information about programs, contact information and web links.

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Last Revision: September 1, 2010