Teaching Students at Disadvantage: Successful Strategies Implemented by Teachers in the Classroom

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McGrath, Joan T.
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Mount Saint Vincent University
This qualitative, phenomenological thesis investigated and examined successful strategies for teaching students at disadvantage in Nova Scotia classrooms. Three elementary teachers participated in this research study. These participants (a resource teacher, a resource / administrator, and a classroom teacher) were interviewed using a structured interview format and audio taped. Once transcribed, data was analyzed through qualitative means using the Grounded Theory Approach. My main focus was literacy instruction in the elementary school including grade primary to six. Across these grade levels, I inquired into how participants balance their teaching strategies to include students at disadvantage, what successful strategies they found enhanced their learning, how they measured success for students at disadvantage, what these teachers thought the parent’s role was in their child’s education, what concerns or challenges these teachers faced in their classrooms on a daily basis, and what part administrators played in helping teachers cope with students at disadvantage. All three participants demonstrated mixed feelings about the word disadvantage. The literature denotes several meanings. Participants agreed that respect for the learner was the first essential step in teaching students at disadvantage for success. All teachers felt it is a team effort including administrators, classroom and learning center teachers, parents, program assistants, specialists, outside agencies, including the health care system, working together for the success of students at disadvantage. Another factor important for their success was to allow them to become critical thinkers. I describe what participants do to recognize and teach students at disadvantage successfully in Nova Scotia classrooms. In other words, what constitutes exemplary practices being carried out in Nova Scotia classrooms?
Classroom , Strategies , Administrators , Students at Disadvantage