Source: Teacher Education and Special Education, Vol. 31 no. 2 , p. 103-117 (Spring 2008)
Highly skilled and knowledgeable teachers can change a child's life. For children with autism, the need for teachers with strong skills and specific knowledge relevant to intervention is crucial. This article presents research that was conducted at the Autism Institute, an organization serving children with autism and their families in the People's Republic of China. The article examines and highlights aspects of the teacher training model at the Autism Institute that have led to the preparation of highly qualified, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable teachers of children with autism.
Results of the research indicated that teacher education was highly valued at this organization, and teachers were seen as the most important part of the organization. Teachers received ongoing, systematic and specific on-the-job instruction. One of the most important features of this organization regarding teacher training was found to be the relationships between upper level staff, including instructional leaders, and newer classroom teachers. These relationships were positive and based on mutual understanding and respect, and this has impacted the nature and success of teacher training.
This study has provided evidence about important features of an effective teacher training model. Teacher preparation at the Autism Institute is full of collaboration, cooperation, and discussion, leading to extremely positive collegial relationships between teachers, positively impacting their views about their profession. Other organizations, whether in China or elsewhere, that may be struggling with teacher retention, as many autism organizations in China do, should consider the importance of working together and listening to each other for the success of an on-site teacher training process.