Educational Assistants

Posted on March 10, 2010. Filed under: cultural, educational, reflection |

This is a response to Becky’s post.  I just had an interview last week with the Student Support supervisor for Regina Public, Morgan Reed, and we had a really good conversation about the support the students with EA’s need.  I also brought up the fact that I had heard EA time was going to be cut, and she agreed that it was- but she also mentioned that Saskatchewan had more EA time then we are supposed to, and significantly more than other provinces.  EA’s do a lot for the classrooms, but too much EA time can also be a bad thing.  Here is why.

In Saskatchewan we are pushing for inclusive classrooms.  This is awesome!  Statistics show that special needs students and mainstream students do better when integration is active.  But too often we just stick special learning students into mainstream classes, and stick them with an EA.  We don’t provide a lot of support for the teacher or the EA. The EA ends up staying by the child’s side the entire day, and a LOT of the time the least qualified person (the EA) ends up teaching the neediest student (with special needs).  This is a problem.  I don’t think that cutting EA time drastically is the answer either- but I do agree with the province putting more supports like psychologists and therapists into the schools.  These people are trained to support the teachers and help them integrate these students effectively into the classroom, not just plop them in.  Reed was also explaining that they have moved from the support team (LRP, therapsits) being in a consultant position to putting them into a few schools.  This way they will work much more closely with teachers, EA’s and parents on a personal level.

Again, I think it is a negative thing when EA time is being cut, but on that same note- the province only has so much money, and from Morgan’s explanation, they are trying to spend it on the best option.  We will have to wait and see if this model works, or if it will also need adapting.

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3 Responses to “Educational Assistants”

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I do agree that we need more SLP, OT and EdPsych staff, but classroom teachers often do not have the time or resources to implement the programming that shared services staff recomend. Also the problem of hiring SLP, OT and EdPsych staff is not being discussed. Our division has 1 of our allotted 3 EdPsych and we are unable to get assessments done for all students that need one. As a result an EdPsych has been contracted to do all required assessments for students graduating this year. We have similar shortages in all other areas as well. Cutting EA funding will not help fill this gap.

Scott, I agree entirely. Cutting EA funding will not help fill the gaps of larger concerns. Also, EAs help teachers who have inclusive classrooms, classrooms that contain all children including those with disabilities. When a general education teacher is faced with his or her usual number of students, plus students with special needs, many teachers need help. Today’s students come to school with so many needs from how to read, how to get along with their peers. The classroom teacher, with an ever-lengthening student roster cannot do it all; so the EA becomes the key assistant and support person. They play an integral role in the educational system.

Thanks Scott and Darlene. I really appreciate your opinions! I think you both have very valid points and these types of questions and critiques bring up questions that need to be answered, so the conversation continues!

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