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Canada is one of the most culturally diverse countries on the planet, and nowhere is that diversity more embedded than in our classrooms. To help students thrive in a diverse classroom, educational assistants play a vital role in building a unified community of learners where every child feels a sense of belonging. In this practical guide, three long-time educators provide a framework for educational assistants to support inclusion in the classroom.

In several chapters, educational assistants will learn to build their skills in advocacy, relationship building, reflective practice and effective communications. This guide also describes Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and outlines specific strategies for differentiating academic and social learning. It addresses supports for particular exceptionalities, presents a continuum of guidance strategies, and describes various kinds of observation that EAs can use to discover and provide information about students. The closing chapter includes information on self-care as well as some summary advice from experienced EAs.

Table of Contents

1. Our Diverse Society
2. Equity and Inclusion in Schools and Classrooms
3. The Role of the Educational Assistant
4. The Educational Assistant as Advocate
5. Introduction to Reflective Practice
6. A Practice of Relationships
7. Communication in Relationships
8. What do Children Need To Succeed?
9. Universal Design for Learning (UDL)
10. Supports and Interventions for Learning
11. Supporting Social Skills
12. Positive Guidance Strategies
13. Observing and Documenting
14. Surviving and Thriving
Appendix A: Inclusive Community Learning Matrix
Appendix B: Individual Education Plan

Carole Massing

Carole Massing began her career as an elementary school teacher and developed a particular interest in early learning when her own children were small. Since that time, she has taught in post-secondary programs at MacEwan University, the University of Alberta and NorQuest College. She has also consulted, researched and developed curriculum in early learning and child care, interculturalism, and human service administration. Carole teaches in the Bachelor of Applied Human Service Administration program at MacEwan University.  She earned her PhD in elementary education at the University of Alberta.

Bonnie Anderson

Bonnie began her teaching  career as an Educational Assistant and went on to work as a classroom teacher for three decades. She now teaches at Norquest College in the Educational Assistant and Early Learning and Child Care programs, and has previously taught in the Educational Assistant program at MacEwan University.

Carol Anderson

Carol Anderson is a retired educator with thirty-nine years of extensive teaching experience working with school aged children in diverse classroom settings. She is trained both as a K-12 educator and as a specialist for children with communicative challenges, in particular children who are deaf and hard of hearing. She brings with her expertise in working with children who have a wide range of exceptionalities, creating positive inclusive classrooms, and differentiating instruction for all learners.