A Positive (Specific) Way to Begin 2019!

Hi! Happy New Year! 2019 is going to be full of wonderful opportunities and challenges. As we begin back to school, it is important to keep in mind that teachers are not the only ones feeling the change and having to adjust! Ways to help your students back into their school routine might be easier than you think. By providing specific praise, you can help to eliminate behavior issues while still having a positive attitude. What is Specific Praise? Before we venture into HOW to give specific praise, let's talk about WHAT it is! Specific Praise is a positive praise statement that includes specific reference to a behavior that a student is displaying. It includes recognizing a behavior, providing positive feedback towards that behavior and praises effort, not ability. It is NOT designed to address ability or be used to evaluate a student. It must be sincere and reflective towards the student or class. Specific Praise can be especially helpful for students with disabilities because

Thankful, Grateful, Blessed!

This month for our Vision Blog Post, we are sharing messages of gratitude from our administration and service providers! Please take a minute to read through and share in our joys! Feel free to comment below with your own! I am thankful for love, a new home, and spending time with my extended family from overseas this summer & again next month!  I am thankful to be back with my longtime church family. I am thankful for dreams coming true! -Ellen T., AIS Service Provider I am thankful for going to work every day and seeing my students grow and improve. Continuing to overcome obstacles that some would say wouldn’t be possible, and pushing past those boundaries paving the way for all students with disabilities. Jodie F., AIS Service Provider I’m thankful for being a child of God. I feel like life gets crazier by the day, but when we trust in His Name, He takes care of us in mysterious ways. I’m not perfect, nor do I want to be (okay maybe sometimes LOL), but I’m in the center


We are teaching in an era of unique opportunity and change. Even as recently as nine years ago when I started my TVI career, whenever I needed information about how to teach or where my resources may be located, I was at a loss. I either had to reach out to the state Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired and hope they knew the answer—which they often times did—or I had to create a solution to roadblocks on my own. Now, however, we are lucky to be working during the height of massive online collaboration projects, which means I think we are poised to start addressing some significant areas of need in our field. The area of need I am most passionate about right now is training and retention of qualified, able paraprofessionals.           In my second year of teaching, I needed to train my first paraprofessional to work with a first-grade braille reader. Using Google, I found a variety of resources to support the need of having a paraprofessional and various definition

New Year, New Me, New Bullies

Hello! This month we are tackling a hard topic to discuss but one that you hear about almost daily in our schools: bullying. Now some of you may have rolled your eyes already because this IS something you have heard over and over again. BUT…did you know that students with disabilities are statistically more likely to be bullied than their average peers? If your student has a disability and is in a mainstream class, the percentage is even higher! That is scary! Why do you think that is? Some studies show that students who have obvious differences (speech impediments, different classroom materials such as braille or large print, a long cane, poor social skills) are more likely to be picked on because bullies see them as ‘easy targets’. Of course, there are some that say we are hyper focused on bullying, and that has resulted in every negative behavior being labeled as a bullying type action. Look, I get it, kids will be kids every now and then. Sometimes you’ve got to tell

You've Got Mail!

Photo description: The words: Inbox (1), Important, and Sent Mail appear as in an email account's inbox.  Working on the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) with students can be so much fun when they discover independence as well as meet new friends in the process! It is so important for our students who are blind or visually impaired to learn how to use email and communicate with others via this necessary medium. When middle and high school students all have Chromebooks and interact with their teachers and classmates through Google Classroom or similar platform, our students need to learn it too! In other situations, email can also be used for social interaction when working on Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) goals. I currently have 2 students who have ECC goals for technology and social skills. As we all know how much teenagers love their social lives, they are learning use technology to interact with peers via email and of course, face-to-face interaction. For one stud

I the Power of Subliminal Messages

In a presentation given by the mother of one my students, she describes the process her family experienced as they discovered her youngest son was diagnosed with a  degenerative eye condition which would eventually lead to total blindness. As a professional in the field of vision impairments, listening to her experience helped me gain a deeper understanding of the tragedy a family experiences when a child is diagnosed as blind. In my mind when I hear a student has a vision impairment, I immediately look at ALL THE POSSIBILITIES and get super excited to teach "blindness skills". On the other hand, I have to take a step back and respect the journey of the family. After all, my time with the child is simply a fraction of his/her life. As I continued to listen to this mother pour out her family story she made a profound statement that will forever be etched in my memory and holds extreme power. "My husband and I decided we were not going to assign our fears about bl

Guest Blogger: Kassy Maloney...Starting the School Year Off RIGHT!

The beginning of the school year is right around the corner! As teachers of children with visual impairments and orientation and mobility specialists, we always want to start the year off on the right foot. Starting the school year successfully will allow everything to flow in to place easier. Scheduling will be easier. Teaching will be easier. Your October-self will thank you for the work you put in now. When I first started teaching Orientation and Mobility 12 years ago, I was so flustered at the beginning of the school year. On one hand, it felt exhilarating to get back into the swing of the school year. On the other, there is SO MUCH to do. Between the mandatory meetings that have little to do with students with visual impairments and the desire to start the school year off on the right foot, I ended up stressed out every single year. For the first five years of my teaching career, I worked 14 hour days from August through mid-October. You don’t have to do that. I am going