Friday, August 17, 2012

Have You Ever Wondered What I Do?

Yesterday, I attended an all-staff workshop with all of my colleagues.  As I've alluded in the past, I travel a lot in my job, and so do my colleagues.  The organization for which I work does not have an easy task managing their staff between two offices and across ten school districts.  We communicate via phone and email and rarely talk face-to-face.  Days like yesterday are enjoyable because we're all in one place, once, to start the year.

As a part of the workshop yesterday, each department was asked to write a description of what they do to possibly be put into an annual report to share with the school districts we serve.  This will help the districts know exactly what they are getting through all of our collective services.

The Vision Team spent an hour creating a document explaining what we do, and I was really pleased with the result.  I think it is comprehensive, but not over-informative, and accurate, but not overly-complicated.

When we finished, I jokingly said to one of my vision colleagues, "I might have to send this to my mom and dad so they have a better understanding of what I do."  He said he'd like to send it to some of the general education district teachers with whom he works, so they believe that he really does have a job and doesn't just drive from school to school.

That gave me the idea to share what we wrote on my blog.  If you've ever wondered what I do, the document the vision team wrote describes it so well.

Before you read it, I should clarify that I am a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments (TVI), and I was recently accepted to a program to become certified as an Orientation and Mobility (O&M) instructor.  So, in the below writing, my job is TVI, and in the next two years, I will also the the O&M teacher, but I am not at this time.  The organization for which I work employs two TVIs and one O&M instructor to serve vision students across ten school districts.

What Do the Vision Teachers Do?
by: The Vision Department

         Vision services and Orientation and Mobility (O&M) services equip students with visual impairments for independent learning in the general education environment through providing instruction for skills and means to access the general curriculum.  In so doing, our aim, job, and goal is to create independent, safe, productive, happy citizens without limitations. 
When a student qualifies for vision services, they are not only entitled to curriculum adaptations, they become involved in an entire extended core curriculum (ECC).   A teacher for students with visual impairments (TVI) adapts general education material and curriculum so it becomes accessible for the student with visual impairment regardless of the severity of the visual impairment.  This includes but is not limited to braille and large print production, supplemental materials, tactile representations, magnification, auditory resources, and high-and-low classroom technology.
         Beyond the time spent adapting and supplementing general classroom curriculum, the TVI prepares and instructs the students with visual impairments in a standardized extended core curriculum.  The subjects included are (1) social skills, (2) daily living skills, (3) orientation and mobility, (4) technology, (5) recreation and leisure, (6) career and transition skills (7) visual efficiency, and (8) self-determination.  All of these subjects are the teaching responsibility of the TVI.  The students may have IEP goals in each of these areas throughout their years of schooling as they advance in skill and grade level.
         It is the responsibility of the TVI to determine the eligibility and severity of every potential student requiting services.  A recent eye doctor report is required before a TVI can meet and potentially evaluate a student.  If the TVI determines that state eligibility might be met, the TVI will conduct a Functional Vision Assessment and Learning Media Assessment.  A Functional Vision Assessment describes, in detail, what a student is likely able to see in a school setting, while a Learning Media Assessment determines the student’s primary learning and literacy modality and media.
If it is determined that a student’s primary learning modality is tactile, it would be recommended that the student becomes a braille reader.  In this case, the TVI acquires the responsibility of teaching the student the Braille Code.  If the student is determined to be a Braille reader, their classroom textbooks, materials, and supplements must all be transcribed into Braille.  This is the job of the TVI or a Braillist, who works in conjunction with the TVI.
Included in the extended core curriculum is Orientation and Mobility (O&M) Instruction.  This curriculum teaches students the ability to know where they are in space and travel safely and efficiently in their environment as independently as possible.  These lessons often include development of cane use, distance-viewing skills, auditory and environmental awareness, traffic and pedestrian rules, time and distance, and public transportation where available.  Orientation and Mobility may involve environments in school, neighborhood, and community at large, both during and after school hours.

And now you have a better idea of what I do August-May.
Thanks for reading.

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1 comment:

  1. Wow, that is great! You are such a blessing to many students, I know!


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