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1. Get started

Start by watching a short video. Then read the cartoon, quotes and key principles. They introduce the main ideas covered in this module. Discuss these as a group. The learning outcomes describe what you’ll achieve once you’ve completed the six steps.

Using classroom layout and support staff strategies to support a student’s learning and peer interaction

Module 9 Cartoon
Having an adult by a student’s side for all or most of the school day can actually interfere with a student’s inclusion as a participating member of the classroom community.

— Giangreco et al., 2005, p. 28

I would like to get less support and I would like to decide who supports me …  and in which parts of my schedule …  If I were allowed to use the computer more I wouldn’t need so much help at school. It’s not much fun having all these old ladies hanging around me all the time.

— Secondary school student, quoted in Egilson & Traustadottir, 2009, p. 27

Module 9 Csp0587

Key principles

  • Teachers and teacher aides are responsible for creating learning environments that support all learners.
  • In inclusive classrooms, all students have opportunities to be as independent as possible. They are connected to others and self-determining in their everyday decisions.
  • The role of the teacher aide is to support teachers to create the conditions necessary for an inclusive classroom environment.
  • The ways some teacher aide support is used may have negative impacts on students.
  • Excessive one-to-one support for a student may reduce teacher engagement with the student and their sense of responsibility for them.
  • When teacher aides spend a lot of time in close proximity to a student, those students can become over-dependent on adults and their peers may keep their distance.
  • Teacher aide support should help ensure that all students in the classroom are learning alongside and with their peers and teacher.
  • ‘Natural supports’ are the everyday relationships and opportunities in a school that can help all students participate. These supports should be considered for students with additional learning needs.
  • Peers are important natural supports.

Learning outcomes

This module is intended to support teachers and teacher aides to achieve four aims:

  1. Identify and describe how they can influence the opportunities all students have to engage and participate in learning.
  2. Identify effective and ineffective ways of creating an inclusive learning environment.
  3. Plan and implement a new strategy that supports opportunities for students to participate and contribute in a shared learning activity.
  4. Reflect and evaluate the effectiveness of the strategy in enhancing student contributions and participation.