Objectives: We propose to explore the relationship between teacher commitment to model philosophy and the three domains of teacher burnout Emotional Exhaustion (EE), Depersonalization (DP), and Personal Accomplishment PA, across three widely utilized preschool treatment models for children with ASD: TEACCH (Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication-Handicapped Children), LEAP (Learning Experiences and Alternative Program for Preschoolers and their Parents), and a Business As Usual (BAU) model. It is hypothesized that teachers with a greater commitment to the philosophy underlying their teaching approach will experience less burnout across the year.
Methods: This study was conducted in conjunction with and support from a larger multi-site (CO, NC, FL) treatment comparison project. 22 teachers (9 TEACCH, 5 LEAP, and 8 BAU) were asked to complete the Teacher Philosophy Questionnaire-Adapted Version and a demographic questionnaire at the beginning of the school year. Additionally, the Maslach Burnout Inventory-Educators Survey was administered at 4 different time points across the year.
Results: While controlling for selected variables (e.g., number of years teaching, number of years teaching children with ASD, average classroom size, and number of full time classroom staff), preliminary analyses of hierarchical linear modeling indicated a significant positive relationship between teacher commitment to model philosophy and the average amount of EE experienced throughout the year, R2 = .52, adjusted R2 = .36, F(5, 15) = 3.212, p < .05. Approximately 16% of the variance of EE was accounted for by its relationship with teacher commitment to philosophy. This is year 1 data of a three year project.
Conclusions: Preliminary analyses suggest that an understanding and commitment to the theoretical underpinnings of particular autism-specific teaching approaches may serve as a buffer for experiencing aspects of teacher burnout across the school year.