An appreciative inquiry into teacher aides' perspectives on best practice for inclusion : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Educational Psychology at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand

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Massey University
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This project utilised interviews and a focus group within an appreciative inquiry framework to gain an understanding of the perspectives of four teacher aides on the ‘best of what is’ in teacher aiding practice, and the components that contributed to moments of best practice. Interview and focus group data were inductively analysed and several themes emerged that closely reflect the extant literature on teacher aiding and inclusive practices. These themes included making a difference, collaborative practices, access to relevant expertise and the ability and willingness of educators to be flexible and responsive in accordance with student needs. A number of barriers to inclusive teacher aide practice were also identified and were consistent with existing research findings. The researcher proposes that teacher aides’ roles are implicitly or explicitly defined and constrained by wider school structures and policies concerning how students with significant learning needs are educated. Thus, efforts to improve how teacher aides are deployed and utilised need to be approached within the context of whole-school development towards improving educators’ capacity to effectively respond to student diversity.
Teachers' assistants, Inclusive education, New Zealand