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Classroom assistant seeking advice from teachers.

Discussion in 'Primary' started by Grainne09, Apr 28, 2010.

  1. Ok so some of you know that I am a classroom assistant in a Primary School. Some of you may know that at the start of this year a new teacher came to the school and came into the class I work in (Yr1) We recently welcomed a new assistant to the classsroom who is one on one with a child. At the start of the year I took a major step back, letting the teacher find her feet, get to know the routine of the school and basically let her get settled into the school and classroom aswell as the children as she hadn't taught 4 year olds in about 6 years. I have found it hard all year, she told me that we would be working the same plans etc as the teacher last year, she gave me copies of the planning, and said that she was happy enough doing the same displays etc as last year , she also told me to just go ahead with what I usually done last year etc. At first I said to myself she will change her mind by Christmas once she gets settled in and will want to do her own things, do them her way etc so I'll go along with what she wants for now, but now, in the last term of the school year I am feeling now that she is taking the biscuit now. She doesn't take anything to do with art activities at all, she expects me to go ahead and do the display boards, when I ask her what she wants put up etc she just says just whatever you want to do. She asked me to test the children on what words they knew and told me to sort out the reading groups, she is always negative towards the children, very little praise, and always tells the parents about stupid wee things that they children may have done wrong that day. As soon as she meets them in the playground at hometime she is passing on the negaitve things about the child. We also have 3 "troublesome" children and it has now got to the point that they don't even listen to her now as she is always putting them down, so she will just send them over to me and says can you deal with so and so as she won't listen to me! I try to praise the children as much as I can and try to make the environment happy and fun when they are working with me as when it is the teacher alone teaching, she is telling them off for not knowing something we have been working on. The new assistant with us as already went to the Principle and spoke to her regarding the teacher as she is unhappy in her work. I am now getting to the point where I am actually feeling uncomfortable around my teacher as she always seem to be standing beside me, or trying to start a conversation with me when I am working with a group of children. I can't even sit in "my corner" without her coming over and sitting too close to me for my liking. I think this is just because I am not used to working in this kind of environment and that must like my wn space too much, don't get me wrong I enjoy talking to people, but not when they are nearly sitting on top of me! I have a feeling that I will have the same teacher next year again and to be honest this thought is depressing me. She even takes the credit for the work that I do. We had a child that was one of the weaker children in the class and she did very little work with her, she always asked me to work with their group. This child in particular couldn't write her name, so during one playtime we sat at the writting table and practiced it. By the end of the play session this child had wrote her name twice and was so proud of herself. I took her down to the offce with me so we could photocopy it as part of her folder, and that lunchtime one of the other teachers came over and said isn't it great about wee so and so writing her name with Mrs ................ this morning, I just stood and looked and said she sat with me and worked on that! The teacher apologised and said well ******* s taking the credit for it, I'll let the principe know the truth as that isn't right! I used to enjoy going to my work, but now I actually dread going in. I have never missed a day off work since I started but recently I would love to phone in sick just to get a break :(
    Basically I'm hoping that someone here could give me some advice as to how to handle this situation. Do I have a quiet word with the teacher and explain to her that I feel I am having too much responsibility put onto me and I am feeling a bit uncomfortable, or do I leave it and see if things get better?? Have a nice summer and hopefully in September things will be different?
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated. P.S sorry for such a long post :eek:
  2. If you're feeling this bad, then yes, of course you must sit down and chat with her about things. Otherwise, she just has no idea what you're thinking or feeling. I would carefully weigh up what issue is paining you most and then broach this one with her - set aside all the smaller stuff and deal with the major issues first.
    I have to say though, that some of what you describe doesn't sound especially unreasonable. I pretty much leave my displays to my TAs as well - it's part of their job to put them up under my direction, but I rarely direct too much as they are simply much better at it than me! I also get TAs to read with children/test children/write up scores etc. Possibly there is just a miscommunication about what she expects a TA to do, and what you are 'used' to doing.
  3. mancminx

    mancminx New commenter

    what level TA are you and what are your hours?

    when you say that you leave your TA to test the children and write up the scores are you checking them over yourself or do you trust the TA to be correct?
    my TA reads with the children, she plays with them and interacts with them, help prepare and set up the displays.
  4. How very kind of OP to "take a step back". And OP says "new" person is the teacher, and OP is her teaching ASSISTANT? Does OP not understand your job description? Has OP even read it recently?
    I think OP needs to review their role and realise just how the lands lies in reality in terms of qualifications, experience and responsibilities.
    And as far as I've noticed, 4 year olds haven't intrinsically changed much over 6 years either.
    My advice to OP (from having the misfortune of having to work with TAs who behave like OP) is to either qualify as a classroom teacher and then OP will realise full ambit and pressures of the role of classteacher, or stop moaning and make sure s/he is doing his/her job to the letter before slinging mud.

  5. That last post was inceredibly negative (I wonder if they are the teacher in question!!!?? [​IMG] ). I have a lot of sympathy with you Grainne. The displays are something that are within a TA's job description, but should have some input from the tecaher, even if this is only an idea of topic or skills the dusplay is meant to be showing off / assisting with.
    My main concern is the negativity of the teacher. I think this is a huge problem, and does need to be addressed, although I don't know whether suggest you approach the teacher first (in an, I am sure you don't mean to do this, but "some people" (parents / I ) have noticed you seem very negative, and don't give enough praise to the children". Or talk to the principal / someone on the management team you get on well with (possibly along witht eh 1:1 TA as well if she agrees with you), saying you think the atmosphere in the classrooom is a very negative, give your reasons, and say you don't know how to approach it. Hopefully then whoever does the observations of teachers in your school could make a point of looking for that in their next lesson obs.

    In some ways you should be flattered that she is trusting you with so much. Might her shimmying over to you a lot mean she is trying to pick up tips because it seems the children like you more than her? That is the charitable way of thinking about it, although she doesn't seem to be putting anything she has learned from you into practice.

    At least console yourself with the thought that you are doing your best for the children; they like you and respond to you; and can you imagine how raw a deal the children would be getting if you weren't there!

    All the best, Grainne, I will be thinking of you.

  6. Sorry about the typos in my last post - my typing is rubbish and my proof-reading not much better.
  7. Can I just say that you have taken my post totally out of context. When I say I took a step back, I meant I didn't do as much as I used or was allowed to do with my previous teacher, as I know that I was trusted to do a lot of things and do things with the children that other teachers wouldn't like. So yes I took a step back from what I had been doing for the past 7 years in my job as I did not know if the teacher now would (a) want me to do these things or (b) I didn't know what she would want me to do in the room. Example being last year when the literacy books would be handed out, myself and the previous teacher would open the pages for the children while setting them on their tables, the teacher I have now doesn't allow that.
    When I said she was New, yes she was. She was a new teacher to the school, no-one knew anything about her so I couldn't even ask anyone else how she liked things to be done etc.
    Yes I do understand my job description, in that job description it does not state that it is up to me to test he children and sort them into theor reading groups. That is the teachers job. I could make a mistake and put a child into the top group when she should be in the weak group, that will affect that child for the rest of the year. It is also the job of the teacher aswell as myself to disipline the children, not just me. Not for the teacher to pass the "silly children" as she puts it over to me to deal with them.. The majority of the time all these children need is a bit of positive attention and praise, it doesn't take a lot of knowledge to work that one out.
    I totally understand what the pressures of a teacher are I also know what the role of the teacher is, I have had the pleasure of working with wonderful teachers for the past 6 years who have helped me become what I am today, have advised and helped me in my studies, aswell as that my sister is now into the last run of her first full year teaching. So yes I do know what my role is, and I fully understand what the role of the teacher is.
    Also you have said that 4 year olds haven't changed much in 6 years, well the teacher seems to think so, and I certainly see more and more children coming in and needing more and more help each year. The Primary 7's we have this year now, certainly didn't need as much help when they were in Primary 1 and we had actually moved them onto harder books etc, so yes there can be a change from year to year.
    To the other kind posters who have been kind enough to offer advice, thank you.
    I do know what my role is, and I do know that it is my job to to displays etc, however my point was that the teacher gives me no idea as to what she wants to be put up on it. She doesn't give me directions as to what to do at the art table for the displays so I have to either think on the spot as to what to do or do what I done last year with my last teacher. And again I don't know how she feels about that as I don't want it to look like me saying "this is what Mrs so and so done" She did this and she did that, the previous teacher still works in the school and my present teacher doesn't like getting any help or advice from her (at the request from the principle) so I am stuck as to what to do because I know she isn't too impressed with her, yet I still have to do work that I did with her last year.
    I will have a think about what you said and will think about speaking to someone whom I feel comfortable with maybe. It's mostly the negativity and shouting the majority of the time. The sitting too close to me or standing too close to me is uncomfortable but I am able to walk away most of the time and act as if I need to get something from another area. I understand what you say about the interactipon with the children and she may be trying to "pick up tips" but ost of the time it is when I am on my own preparing work etc so I am not even around the children.
    The one to one assistant spoke to me today about it and suggested we speak to the Key Stage co-ordinator about how we are feeling as she was annoyed today that the teacher shouted at the children as they were interrupting her doing something, and told them to come to me or her, however we didn't know what they had to do after that piece of work as we had been out on our lunch, the other assistant went up and asked her what they were to do and she said awk they know themselves, they will be able to tell you, yet when I asked a table they had no idea, so we ended up having to write another sentence in their book and ask them to write under it and draw a picture. I said to the teacher afterwards when the children went home about it and explaned that the children didn't know what to do and myself and the other girl were out at lunch so we wrote another sentence and she said yeah that'll do them, it doesn't really matter anyway!
    Thanks again for your replys and someone very kindly sent me a pm with some advice also so thanks so much.
  8. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Grainne09 ed_ant2002 is obviously letting his own bad experience with a TA colour his reply and it is just as obvious he has no knowledge how reception classes are organised.
    Is the teacher new to teaching or just new to the school/class/year group?
    If it is a NQT or someone new to FS I would say they are perhaps feeling out of their depth and looking to you to lead (not right but might explain the situation). I would try a quiet word first if this is the case.
  9. I would absolutely trust my TA to write up scores from (say) a spelling test. I would use the results if and when I need to, but I wouldn't check they had marked them or recorded them correctly - I think my TA would be extremely affronted if I thought she couldn't perform such a simple task. Recording results etc is one of the tasks teachers are meant to hand over to a TA. Whereas, I would always mark a SAT paper myself (for example) because the level of complexity is greater, I think simple tests are fine to hand over.
  10. oldsomeman

    oldsomeman Star commenter

    at the end of the day the Ta is under the direction of the teacher...........the teacher must answer for their own actions.You cant afford to let her worry you as long as you are fulfilling the roles given to you.In the end most teachers establish good working relationships with most of their TA's, but not all give them responsibility.
    Let her fall and just suppport.If you have reall concerns then you either approach her, or approach your line manager.
  11. Benbamboo

    Benbamboo Occasional commenter

    There seem to be two separate issues here. Firstly the teacher's relationship with you, the TA, and secondly, the teacher's overall conduct and approach to teaching.
    Not knowing the teacher/circumstances etc it would be hard to comment fairly on the second point other than advising you to approach the head. If another TA has already deemed it necessary to make a complaint about this teacher then an approach from you as well should ring some alarm bells.
    As for the relationship between you two, there could be various factors coming into play and, forgive me, but I am going to give the teacher benefit of the doubt on a lot of issues, merely to try and look at both sides.
    1) If the teacher is new to teaching it could be that they are not confident being responsible for another adult. Lord knows it is not something that was covered in my teacher training and in my first job I had a TA in their late 50s.It was incredibly difficult and uncomfortable to be seen as "in charge" of another adult, especially one years my superior and with so much more experienced in teaching than me. Luckily she is amazing and understanding and I could openly identify it as an issue for my CPD. Is it possible that your teacher just isn't sure how to direct you and is avoiding it rather than facing up to it?
    2) Different TAs have different skill sets, my last TA was very good at stretching high ability children and behaviour management. My current TA is excellent at all things arty and working in smaller groups. I can safely leave displays etc to my current TA with little input other than a theme and general description of what I would like whereas I would have to be more explicit with my previous TA. Again, could it be that your teacher isn't aware of the skills you possess and therefore isn't sure of how you would be best used?
    3) On a harsher note, I have met teachers who have some sort of power trip and seem to believe TAs are only there to do the jobs they don't want to do. It is sad when this happens and I hope it isn't the case but if it is there is little to do other than discuss it higher up. Otherwise you, or the next TA with that teacher, are in for another miserable year.

  12. Have just received a message similar to what you are saying. I think for now I will see how things go next week, I have now got to the point I am saying, if it is good for everyone else it's good enough for me. The class are behind in their work - as in they are not where they should be in learning terms as the same time in previous years. Certain books etc should have been read by now and we are no-where near finished the maths work which really should have been done at Easter ready to start a new topic this term.

    The principle and I were speaking about something completly different today and at the end she asked how things were going and I just said that they weren't going to well and I am starting to get concerned and felt a bit under pressure in the classroom, she then said that it hasn't gone un-noticed that I haven't been my usal self towards work as of late and a few of the teachers have asked if I was OK which I thought was nice. She has arranged for us to have a meeting next Friday with the Key Stage 1 co-ordinator to have a talk and see how things are going in the room, so I will leave it until then and see what is said there.
    After reading some of the other posts I have realised that I didn't mention how log my teacher had been teaching. She has been teaching for about 12 years now, she has told me that she taught Primary 1,2 and 3 in the past but for the past 6 years I think she had been in Primary 6 and 7 classes, which is why at the start of the year I had taken a step back and let her be, so she could find her feet again working with the younger ones, but even at this stage now she is still expecting 4 year olds to sit in silence and shouts at them for getting a word wring in theor reading book.
    Thanks for all the advice, it has been appreciated :)
  13. oldsomeman

    oldsomeman Star commenter

    As a teacher who normally works well with my TA's in the past might i just add something.
    It has ben suggested by posters that many teachers do not know how to handle their TA's, indeed some are very abrupt and to my mind rude to them.However ,although you are not a slave, you are there to serve the class and the teacher.Your job is o support and even though you might not like it undertake such duties as ateacher might give you.
    i always fear when TA's, who are in a unique position, start to talk about a teachers performance.
    Its one thing to be noticed for your 'difference ' in attitude and happiness.Its another for KS cordinatiors and heads to be involved,the direction that often takes it to censure the teacher and to speak ill of folk..even if its due to your concern for the kids and their learning.
    I would not condone actions if a children are beng abused,or treated badely in a class...but a teachers performance could be another thing.In the end you are there to help the teacher deliver the areas she wants you to deliver or do(depending upon your remit).Your judgements are obviously important, but you need to consider your role as not being a teacher trainer or even her line manager.The 'failure ' of a teacher shuld be picked up by her line manage and through PM and resolts..not via tittle tattle or gossip( although i know wel that TA's do gossip[​IMG])
    Its not easy when you try to compare like with like and even make value judgements.but please tread carefully.......teachers can gang up on a ta, even as the can ona teacher.It wouldnt suprise me that the teacher is nt unaware of her fialings, but has chosen the easy option to maake life easy for whatever reason she decided.
    I might add that its a foolish teacher who does not make use of the talents assistant offers..mine i give lots of thanks to and quite alot of decision making, but in return i do ask them to work hard for the kids and occasioanlly for me.Mos t of the times we get on fabously!
  14. oldsomeman

    oldsomeman Star commenter

    sorry about al the typos..i really do spell and write neatly in class lol
  15. my basic philosophy is that i wouldnt ask my NN or any other member of staff/student/helper to do anything i wouldn't be prepared to do myself. I couldn't operate without my NN. she teaches groups, the class, takes over at the drop of a hat. she spends her own tike doing resources, displays and does way more hours than she should, shes a god send. however i am the first one to sort displays, clean up wee/sick etc and wash paint pots, put outside equipment away as i said whatever i ask her to do i would always be prepared to do myself.
    I think she appreciates i ask her to do lots but she know we are a team and we complement each other. maybe a quick chat would be useful just so you can say you don't mind doing these things but you apppreciate it if you could talk through displays, marking, assessments etc with her for clarification. My NN and I spend ages everyday chatting stuff through and devising plans of attack but it is always and 2 way thing and i value her opinion. maybe as an NQT she just hasn't grasped that yet
    good luck
  16. becky70

    becky70 Occasional commenter

    Sorry to hear you are having such a hard time, Grainne. I think you must focus on this teacher only where she impacts on your ability to do your job. If she is a poor teacher the head should know this - if not, your head is not up to scratch, I'm afraid.
    I'd have a quiet word with your teacher first and explain your concerns. Be very specific - if needs be, write it down first! You can be asked to put up displays but the teacher should be deciding on their content. Testing children on words they know is a reasonable task for a TA but grouping is the responsibility of the teacher. If your teacher doesn't take your concerns seriously then you do need to go up the chain of command starting with whoever is your line manager.
    I used to be a TA although I've taught for well over 10 years. Whenever I started work with a new TA I made an effort to get to know them and their strengths. I also supported them if there was stuff I needed them to do but they weren't confident with. Sounds like you are in Scotland and I don't even have a class these days - a shame because if you were in my area and I had a class you could come and be my TA - you sound brilliant!
    Good luck - let us know how you get on.
  17. I do have some sympathy with your position, op, and I think you have received some decent advice here.
    Just a small point though - the person to whom you are speaking is the principal, not the principle.
  18. You know nothing about me, on either count, so are not in a position to comment.

  19. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    First point - bad experience comes from your post in this thread
    or was it in fact a good experience?
    second point I agree is suposition on my part but out of interest are you aware of the contents of EYFS with regards to TAs/staff working partnerships?
    Have you ever spent any time in a reception class as a teacher?

  20. Hi,
    I feel for you, as a teacher I also work with TA's who feel they have more than their job description put upon them and as a member of SMT it is obviously in MY job description to support and negotiate between staff if necessary. I also know that maybe they are feeling vunerable as a new member of staff and don't want
    to rock any boats?
    My advice is to establish what your role in the class is with the teacher. If there is someone in management you can talk to, discuss it with them but in an informal way, if not you might just have to take strength from your own belief in yourself and tell her/him that you feel uncomfortable with what they are expecting you to do but be honest.
    There will be aspects you like having responsibility for, maybe what's expected can be negotiated. As a teacher I would rather a TA told ME if they were uphappy with my expectations, rather than talk to others but you need to know you are covered if their reaction is extreme.
    Good luck, talking out differences should work...it's what we encourage the kids to do!

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