I have been lucky enough to have worked with excellent Teaching Assistants, whose role is to assist in reaching the goals for children on Individual Education Plans.
Teaching Assistants are assigned to a school based on the needs of students with special needs. They often work with a number of students in different classrooms. They may assist physically with mobility or medical or personal care. These men and women are vital in facilitating the integration of children with special needs in our schools.
It is so important that the relationship between the teacher and the TA be one of collaboration. Often the TA has worked with a specific child for a number of years, so it is easy to assume that the teacher might feel less capable of heading up the educational goals of the child. Yet, this is the teacher’s role.
These are goals we tried to attain but did not always achieve:
- Regular meetings and discussions with the teacher and EA to review the goals on the IEP and to revise and adjust the child’s program.
- Clear plans regarding the choices available when transitions or circumstances occur where the child is not able to cope with regular programming.
- A variety of rewards, rest times, alternative programs and activities that help the child, with the understanding that the EA has the independence to adjust the schedule, based on the child’s needs.
- A plan that includes programming with other students to ensure inclusion, as well as some independent time in the child’s day.
Some of the challenges in meeting these goals include finding the time to collaborate within the paid hours of the TA, figuring out the best ways to implement the goals of the IEP, dealing with changes in schedules, and providing meaningful inclusion.
Balancing the needs of all children is an art. A great TA/Teacher team works hard to put these goals foremost for the benefit of all children.
How have you collaborated with Educational Assistants to best integrate and meet the needs of all students? Please share your experiences.
Over her 30+ year career, Donna Baxter DeCourcy has been a classroom teacher, Special Education resource teacher, technology curriculum innovator, and literacy coach. She has had a variety of experiences during her digital journey ranging from IBI programs, website development, and curriculum writing to integrate technology in the classroom. Donna’s innovative work earned her the Prime Minister’s Certificate of Excellence, and the John Fruedeman Award for Curriculum Development. Her experience as a Special Education Resource Teacher and Literacy Coach helped her to integrate her knowledge of special education with teacher development through Professional Learning Communities. Catch up with Donna by visiting her inspiring and practical blog called Learning with Donna.