Harvard Educational Review
  1. Spring 2011 Issue »

    "Doing Right By"

    Teacher Aides, Students with Disabilities, and Relational Social Justice

    Gill Rutherford
    In this article, Gill Rutherford seeks to understand, from the perspectives of teacher aides, the influence of their work on the school experiences of New Zealand students with disabilities. Rutherford contributes to a growing body of international research regarding the role of teacher aides that documents the complex and ambiguous nature of their work. Ironically, given the injustice of assigning unqualified teacher aides to students whose learning support requirements (through no fault of their own) often challenge teachers, the findings of the study suggest that aides may contribute to the development of a more just education by virtue of their relationships with students with disabilities. Teacher aides’ knowing and caring about students in terms of their humanity and competence resulted in their recognizing and addressing injustices experienced by students. In acting on students’ behalf, in “doing right by” each student, these aides enabled students to enact their formal right to education. The study findings, interpreted within a framework of relational social justice, add another dimension to what has already been documented in research literature about the paradoxical nature of teacher aides’ work.

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    Gill Rutherford is a senior lecturer in education and disability studies at the University of Otago College of Education. Formerly a high school teacher, her work as a tertiary educator since 1995 has focused on inclusive education within teacher education preservice and postgraduate programs and on teacher aide education. A relative newcomer to research, in 2008 she completed her dissertation, “Different Ways of Knowing? Understanding Disabled Students’ and Teacher Aides’ School Experiences Within a Context of Relational Social Justice,” on which this article is based
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    Spring 2011 Issue


    Becoming Something Different
    Learning from Esmé
    Colleen M. Fairbanks, Penny Mason Crooks, Mary Ariail
    “It’s Going to Stop in This Generation”
    Women with a History of Child Abuse Resolving to Raise Their Children Without Abuse
    Sioux Hall
    What Does Injustice Have to Do with Me?
    A Pedagogy of the Privileged
    David Nurenberg
    Beyond Delinquent Citizenships
    Immigrant Youth’s (Re)Visions of Citizenship and Belonging in a Globalized World
    Anne Ríos-Rojas
    "Doing Right By"
    Teacher Aides, Students with Disabilities, and Relational Social Justice
    Gill Rutherford
    Rebooting the EdD
    Jon F. Wergin

    Book Notes

    To Teach
    William Ayers and Ryan Alexander-Tanner

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