Perspectives of teacher assistants working with students with diverse learning needs

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Wasykowski, Joanne
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Education
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Faculty of Education, 2001
Implementing the educational model of inclusion for students with diverse learning needs into mainstream classrooms requires skilled teamwork amond parents, classroom teachers, special education teachers, and teacher assistants. Teacher assistants, a fundamental part of the school system, are essential participants in the individualized programming for students with diverse learning needs. These individuals, the front line workers, are significant adults in students' lives; they can positively transform attitudes, skills, and learning for students with diverse learning needs. Subtle messages of devaluation and hierarchical divisions can make teacher assistants cognizant of "their place" in the school. Additionally, a perceived lack of educational and behaviour management strategies can exacerbate feelings of insecurity and, or, incompetence. It is essential that teacher assistants receive the necessary training, professional development, and opportunities for collegiality to become effective educational partners. An "empowering" environment for teacher assistants respects the needs of adult learners and employs mentoring qualities for on-the-job training. Finally, an empowering environment provides a safe learning climate through transformational practice. The metamorphosis into increased learning and appropriate risk-taking evident in teacher assistants can enhance the lives of students with diverse learning needs. In this study, six teacher assistants from a rural southern Alberta school district were interviewed to identify and explore factors in an "empowering" work environment that may positively contribute to individuals becoming effective, committed teacher assistants.
ix, 138 leaves ; 28 cm.
Teachers' assistants -- Alberta , Special education -- Alberta , Dissertations, Academic