Creating a Community Association for Student Support

This post was written by current student, Heather-Ann Mesquita.

a black board with 'teaching assistant' written in chalk and a drawn apple

I have been a Teaching Assistant for almost 10 years. I love teaching students in a way they are able to learn. I love to learn about who they are, about how they perceive things and how they process things. They teach me how to teach them. That is why it is so incredibly frustrating, heartbreaking, angering and isolating when we are faced with barriers to accessing the resources and devices that they need for their learning. Or, when I am torn away from supporting a student, under the rationale that there is no funding to continue providing him or her with one-to-one support. I have experienced this more than few times in my years as a Teaching Assistant, and though I had heard similar stories from countless others in my field I still felt alone, like I was fighting for my students rights and needs on my own.

In the winter of 2015, I took DST727: Leadership for Social Action taught by Winnie Ng and after hearing more fellow Teaching Assistants tell more stories eerily similar to my own experiences, I finally decided we needed to see real change and we need to take a stand…together. As part of an assignment for the class I developed an activist group called the Community Association for Student Support in which TA’s could find solidarity and we could address the systemic issues that are creating barriers for our students learning and experiences. This group, however, is not limited to those of us in the field of teaching students with disabilities but is open to anyone wanting to join in the movement toward influencing change at the Board of Education level(s) and eventually at a Provincial level.

If you would like to join the Community Association for Student Support, would like more information about it or would simply like to follow what we are doing, please email me at heatherann.mesquita@ryerson.ca.

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