The purpose of the diploma thesis was to research a professional development »state« of teachers and special education and rehabilitation teachers at the beginning of their career: what were the problems they were dealing with, how they coped with them and how they attended to their personal professional development. In the first part, roles, tasks and competences of special education teachers were defined; likewise the professional development and its various models. Furthermore, we stated and described different factors of professional development and defined the term career.
In the second part, we explained the basic methodological steps and showed results of the empirical survey. There were 10 special and rehabilitation teachers at the beginning of their professional career included in the survey and 3 special educators who had already concluded their professional career. The data was collected with interviews and autobiographical accounts. We aimed to find out what reasons guided the special and rehabilitation teachers for choosing their studies, how undergraduate studies, practical study work and first experience at work influenced their professional development and what influence did other factors have. Moreover, we wanted to learn what were the problems special education teachers were facing and how they overcame them and how they attended to their professional development. We aimed to discover what encouraged the teachers and what hindered their professional development and how important was professional development for them personally.
The survey showed that all special and rehabilitation teachers chose their profession based on their wish to work with people and children. They understand their professional development as a continuous personal growth and professional knowledge broadening which includes theory and practical work, cooperation with other experts and personal responsibility for one's own professional development.
In major part, the interviewees after graduation did not feel competent enough for their job. They stated that studies had given them theoretical base, but not practical experience – the reasons for that could be found in the old study programme from the time. The survey showed that teachers had gathered practical experience mainly through voluntary work. At the beginning of their careers, the interviewees came across a lot of different challenges and they describe this period as crucial. They point out positive atmosphere and good cooperation relationships as key factors for coping with and overcoming the problems. As such they present also the work itself that is connected with will to work, good cooperation relationships, positive atmosphere and self-evaluation; all these values being also stimulations for teacher's professional development.
The survey also showed that at the beginning of their career, special education teachers had to face several obstacles, often connected to: the school management not being open to further educational courses and trainings, inappropriate courses, colleagues' unwillingness to cooperate, negative atmosphere in the school and lack of time due to excessive bureaucracy work.