Abacus Learning Centre has developed a set of 10 x one-hour workshops providing specialised knowledge, and practical strategies for educators working with children with additional needs, including Autism.
Carolyn Gurrier-Jones, Principal of Nepean School comments on their recent workshops…
The knowledgable staff at Abacus Learning Centre worked in partnership with our Nepean School Leadership Team to design a school specific, ten-week professional learning program to build staff capacity and confidence in providing best practice teaching and learning opportunities for students presenting with ASD or ASD like behaviours. There were a variety of modes of presentation available including full days or part days, provision of a venue or a school chosen venue.
We chose ten, weekly, one hour sessions across a term, so that we could discuss and embed learning along the way. Professional Learning sessions were presented by a dynamic and knowledgeable Abacus Case Manager in our school setting. Each session provided a wealth of well researched information, useful resources, practical video clips, numerous chances for questions and answer sessions, ongoing professional conversations between staff, opportunities to challenge preconceived ideas and build on knowledge and skills.
The staff team from Abacus were open to feedback between sessions, tweaked presentations to meet our needs and provided follow-up and/or clarifying information as requested. Copies of the presentation were provided for staff reference each week. Opportunities to work through school based case studies as a team reinforced learning and built staff confidence and capacity to work with students presenting with ASD or ASD like behaviour. Staff reflected that many of the principles discussed such as prompts, reinforcers and transitions were important aspects of all quality learning and teaching experiences and helpful in working with all students.
The excellent and informative nature of these presentations has inspired us to explore a further partnership with Abacus next term, where a member of their team will work in our school community, one day per week as a mentor and coach, supporting staff in putting their learning into practice with individual students in the classroom.
We would thoroughly recommend working with Abacus to build capacity and understanding in working with students with ASD or presenting with ASD like behaviours. Our experience in working with Abacus has demonstrated that they are resourceful, helpful, responsive and able to present evidence-based and well-researched information in an accessible, practical and useful format.