Co-constructing collaborative classrooms: novice and veteran teachers perceptions of working with educational assistants.
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This research study documents the perceptions of Manitoba teachers working with educational assistants as schools comply with the Appropriate Educational Programming Amendment to the Public Schools Act (Manitoba Education, Citizenship and Youth, 2005). Eight teachers who work with educational assistants in rural and urban Manitoba were asked about four aspects of this emerging role: (i) What are their experiences working with educational assistants in the classroom (what roles do they perceive educational assistants to perform), (ii) the competencies they think they need for their work, (iii) how they have been prepared for this responsibility, and (iv) how they think teachers should or could be (better) prepared for their work with educational assistants. The study invited four novice teachers (less than two years of teaching experience) and four veteran teachers (more than 10 years of teaching experience) to participate in one-on-one face-to-face interviews. Open-ended questions based in current research prompted the participants to reflect on their own practice. The study reveals some of the perceived issues teachers report as challenges in their changing role to meet new legislative mandates. It examines the need to introduce collaboration with educational assistants during pre-service training and access to professional in-service learning opportunities to facilitate teachers understanding of the role of educational assistants in Manitoba schools. The study also reveals some of the competencies required for managing the activities of educational assistants.