4 Ways Education Assistant Training Can Help You Keep a Classroom Organized

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Working in special education means providing a supportive classroom, and that includes organization. Organization is more than making sure paper and pens are put away and everything is in order before the next day – it can also help prepare you to meet the individual learning needs of your students and provide a more structured classroom environment.

Whether you want to provide students with visual aids or reduce potential distractions, there are a variety of organizational methods you and your fellow educators can use to help your students learn and participate in and around the classroom.

If you’re interested in starting a career as an educational assistant, read on to find out how your training can help you and your classroom become more organized.

1. Positive Student Behaviour Support Begins with Good Organization

Supporting positive behaviour in the classroom is an important part of your work when you become an educational assistant. Although there may be days when positive behaviour seems to be the last thing on your students’ minds, staying organized can actually help you keep your class on the right track.

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may have trouble understanding how they are expected to act in the classroom. An organized room with physically defined spaces can help them better separate each setting, and even anticipate what a certain activity in that space means. Encouraging a deeper understanding of the current activity or lesson can cultivate a more positive response in students as they learn how to interact with and prepare for the context of each separate space.

2. Organization in the Classroom Can Reduce Student Distractibility

Many special education learners can be easily distracted. Educational assistant training emphasizes the important role that behaviour management plays in the special education classroom, and that includes reducing any auditory or visual distractions.

Educational assistants can use organization to minimize distractions in class

Educational assistants can use organization to minimize distractions in class

General clutter and even walls crowded end to end with posters or information can be a distraction to students with ASD because all of the unorganized elements are competing at once for their attention. Reducing excessive visual input can help minimize the stimulus students receive from their classroom environment, so it’s a good idea to only include the most relevant visual materials on the walls or desks, and put all the extra materials or supplies neatly away out of sight.

3. Educational Assistant Training Can Help You Organize Individual Learning Styles

Individualized learning is a core element of your educational assistant program and your classroom. Children with special needs often learn in very different styles, and organization can help you ensure they are learning in the best way possible.

Students at KLC can use organization to support individual learning styles

Students at KLC can use organization to support individual learning styles

Organization in the classroom can be as simple as labelling items with words and even pictures. Labelling each student’s materials, assigned seat, or personal items can help them tell which objects are theirs, and encourage them to have a more independent perspective of these items, as well as how they relate to themselves as individuals. “David’s chair,” for example, tells everyone in the room – David included – that this is his personal space to use during class.

4. Use Your Educational Assistant Training to Provide Visual Organization

Special education learners often rely on visual cues to better understand their classroom environment, and it’s important to make sure everything is organized in a way that provides plenty visual support.

If you choose to label areas of the classroom, you can also include pictures to help students understand where things are supposed to go as well as what they look like. This kind of visual cue gives them easily-accessible information that helps make abstract concepts more concrete. Visual aids such as a schedule or first-then board can provide students with a sense of structure, and encourages them to follow multi-step directions in order to achieve something they want.

Are you interested in starting a rewarding career in the classroom?

Contact KLC College for more information about our educational assistant course.

Learning Theories: A Quick Guide for Students in Educational Assistant Classes

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Are you considering a career as an educational assistant? One important subject you’ll encounter during your training is learning theories. Simply put, a learning theory is a way of understanding how knowledge is acquired and retained, which makes it an extremely useful concept for educational assistants when helping students better comprehend new material.

If you pursue training to be an educational assistant, you will work under the supervision of the teacher to help students with their lessons. Since lessons are often built on the principles of at least one main learning theory, understanding the main tenets of a few important learning theories will be an asset in the classroom.

Read on for a look at the three main learning theories and how they can be utilized by educational assistants.

Educational Assistants Can Use Behaviourism to Help Students Learn Factual Material

Behaviourism focuses on knowledge and learning that is quantifiable and observable, such as facts and dates. Behaviourists favour a model of learning that focuses heavily on positive and negative reinforcement. For example, as an educational assistant, your responsibilities may include assisting with grading tests, which showcases behaviourism in action. A good grade on a test is a case of positive reinforcement as it encourages the student to remember the correct answers that led to that grade. A bad grade, on the other hand, is a type of negative reinforcement, which discourages a student from repeating an incorrect answer.

Grading is one way that educational assistants use behaviourism in the classroom

Grading is one way that educational assistants use behaviourism in the classroom

Behaviourism is a useful tool if you are helping students learn something for which there is always a correct answer, such as scientific facts, foreign language vocabulary and historic dates. However, it is less useful with teaching more abstract concepts, like comprehension and critical thinking.

Cognitive Constructivism is an Important Tool for Students in Educational Assistant Training

Cognitive constructivism (also called cognitivism) is a learning theory which argues that people construct knowledge based on what they already know, such as their previous learning, cultural background and their life experiences. Instead of viewing students as passive learners motivated only by positive or negative reinforcement, a cognitivist sees learning as a process of active discovery.

After educational assistant training, you can use cognitivism in a number of ways, including by helping students with learning difficulties. In such a case, a teacher, with your assistance as an educational assistant, may develop an individual program tailored to the abilities and knowledge of these students. You will then help put this program into action. For example, as an educational assistant, you may ask a student to repeat new material in his or her own words. Having a student put material into their own words is more effective than simply having them repeat material verbatim, since the latter doesn’t necessarily indicate that he or she has understood the lesson.
A lesson built on cognitivist principles is less concerned with drilling students with right answers and focuses more on creating an environment that allows them to discover new knowledge for themselves.

Social Constructivism Focuses on the Collaborative Nature of Education

Social constructivism shares the cognitivist belief that learners construct knowledge based on what they already know. However, this theory emphasizes that the way new knowledge is constructed is a collaborative process involving the community, society and fellow students.

Social constructivism sees learning as a collaborative effort

Social constructivism sees learning as a collaborative effort

Once you’ve completed your educational assistant classes, you may find social constructivism put into practical use in the classroom through group exercises. For example, the teacher may divide the class into groups and give each group an assignment, like a mathematical problem, to solve together. Your job as an educational assistant may be to help each group by observing the behaviour of students and ensuring they stay focused on the task at hand.

While an educational assistant ensures the groups stay on track, students ultimately work on the assignment with their peers. This sort of social constructivist teaching strategy combines elements of both behaviourism and cognitivism, since students are constructing new knowledge based on what they already know, and they are also being motivated through positive reinforcement from other group members.

Are you interested in pursuing a career as an educational assistant?

Contact KLC College to learn more about our career college.