The Challenges of Itinerant Teaching
New itinerant teachers usually have to establish their own structure. Sometimes the only information they receive is a list of students, who may range in ability from multiply impaired to gifted, vary in age from birth to 21, and be located at several sites that may or may not be in close geographic proximity.
New itinerant teachers gather information from school records and observations. They consult with classroom teachers and school administrators to set up a schedule in which the best times to work with students in their classrooms or in separate rooms, as needed, are coordinated with the times that appropriate rooms are available for their use; move materials and equipment into each school; and determine which needs of the students they will address if the needs are not already delineated in current IEPs.
They will be expected to assess referrals by conducting functional vision assessments and to assess the visual functioning of the visually impaired students in their program at mandated intervals, currently every three years.
To be effective, itinerant teachers do the following:
- Utilize or develop school or community resources to help with important areas of learning, such as living skills,
recreational and leisure activities, and motor development, that may be difficult to address because of the
limited time they can spend at each site.
- Serve as liaisons among the students, parents, school personnel, and medical, community, and professional resources.
- Establish rapport and take a cooperative, flexible, yet assertive approach because the relationships they foster are
vital to the successful inclusion of their students.
- Are observant and use their ingenuity, creativity, and intuition to facilitate their students' learning and integration.
- Strive to develop a keen understanding of people and are able to communicate
with people of a wide range of ages, abilities, and backgrounds.
- Keep abreast of resources, new technology, and trends in the educational field by attending conferences and receiving
information from organizations and businesses that serve visually impaired people.
- Are effective advocates for their students and encourage students to advocate for themselves.
- Maintain a realistic perspective about what they can accomplish.
- Do their best to anticipate problems before they arise.
- Work well both on an individual basis and as members of a team.
- Maintain a sense of focus and priorities, and recognize the importance of good organization skills.
The material in this section of the AFB site has been excerpted from Itinerant Teaching: Tricks of the Trade for Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments, Second Edition, by Jean E. Olmstead. For a complete list of the topics covered in this comprehensive, through-the-year guide for itinerant professionals, see the table of contents.