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Difficult TAs

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by anon8315, Apr 20, 2012.

  1. anon8315

    anon8315 Established commenter

    I am working with some TAs who are really behaving in a very undermining way in my lessons and actually making the lesson quite difficult to teach - not exactly the purpose of them being there! One called out to "correct" me today on some information (she was not correct) and then cornered me after the lesson to inform me I hadn't differentiated adequately for some of the children (which in fairness was true but then I only took over this class today.)
    They also are very assertive with discipline and this can make matters really confusing as sometimes I'll give a child a warning then find out they have already had one.
    I know I need to speak to the TA in question, but I am a bit worried as I'm assuming this is how they are used to behaving in lessons in the school and I'm not sure how to gently say that I want them to back off a bit. Truth be told, I'd personally far rather teach my lessons without "support" but that isn't an option. Or is it!?
  2. You say that you only took over the class today, so was this also the first time you have worked with these TAs? If it was your first day with them then I suggest you talk to them about your expectations and how you would like them to support you. Speaking as a TA myself, every teacher I have worked with has had a different style and it takes a little time and lots of effective communication to get things running smoothly. You obviously need to speak with them if they are making your job harder, but I would suggest you try to open up lines of communication in a positive manner: explain how you want things to work, but say you are happy to receive their input (just not in front of the pupils).
    The fact that you say you would rather teach without support makes me wonder if you have had problems with support staff before? It can be challenging managing the adults in your class, but when things work a TA can be a real asset, so don't write all support staff off as a pain in the neck! Good luck I hope things improve quickly for you.
  3. The idea of a TA is fantastic. Unfortunately I've never expereienced a good one. Not to say they're not out there - but good ones are gold dust. I think Yogs had the obvious answer - meet and discuss your expectations and how you want to be supported.
  4. Time was when a TA didn't come into the class without having introduced themselves, or been introduced to the teacher and a meeting set up where there would be some planning. In secondary, a pupil might be supported by a different TA at different times or not at all. If there's a SENCO, have a chat with them too. I've had some brilliant TAs and some useless, but always, always communicate your expectations. It's always harder if the TA is established and you're not, but you are the qualified teacher in charge and responsible for the class.
  5. Maybe I am biased but I work with a team of fantastic TA's and welcome them into my lessons - in fact I miss them when circumstances prevents them from joining me. Admittedly I do teach bottom sets with some very needy or challenging students - some need support to access the curriculum and others need behaviour support. I have frequent discussions with them after a lesson to see what WE can do to improve the learning, I listen to their input about which students did not fully understand the objectives and think about what we will do next lesson. I have delegated behaviour to my TA's (luckily I tend to have the same ones and I am the Asst SENCO so know them really well) and am happy for them to follow the school behaviour sanctions, issueing warnings, writing names on the board etc. I also try to email them a copy of a power point or resources before the lesson so that they can have a quick look at what we are doing.
    It all comes down to building up a relationship with a TA which you will not have done in just one lesson. Try having a chat with them before the next lesson, sharing what you plan to do and ask them to help with the differentiation. I try not to always ask them to work with the least able or the most badly behaved, I like to work with all my students so often my TA will focus on the better students - but we always know what each of us is doing and make a good team.
    For me, the more the merrier and I welcome visitors, even if SLT 'drop in' I might ask them to help a student for a while!
  6. Georgia99

    Georgia99 New commenter

    I think the best way forward is to talk to the ta. It is difficult but it can be done tactfully. I would point out to them that in correcting you, they have actually given the class the incorrect information.
    You are the leading professional in the room and the classes success is on your head so you have absolutely every right to set your expectations to the ta.
  7. anon8315

    anon8315 Established commenter

    Thanks. How are you by the way Georgia? Are you finding the last week OK? [​IMG]
    It isn't that I mind other adults in my classroom but unfortunately many TAs I have worked with have made my job harder rather than easier - being the "voice" of the child they are with seems to be a common theme - "Tom says he would like to try this but he's worried about getting it wrong and being told off," - for goodness sake, did this really need reporting to me [​IMG]
    The information she "corrected" me on wasn't a big deal in itself: it was a minor piece of information relevant to the lesson I mentioned but it was more the principle behind it. I'm still building a relationship and making an impression and by giving the impression I am "wrong" I feel it is rather quite undermining.
    I'll have to be firmer, but it is difficult when you've only just started somewhere yourself and trying to get your head round a million and one new systems, children and where the loos are - I don't want to start making enemies with support staff! [​IMG]
  8. I've found three types of TA's - awesome ones, lazy ones and useless ones- sometimes they are lazy and useless!
    I know which TA's im going to have and can prepare accordingly but I have been known to say I dont need a TA for that lesson because it is easier without than with, the kids suffer more with them there than not.
    I have one TA I dont work with full stop and I know im not the only one- she prefers to work with older members of staff because she feels she gets more respect ( I couldn't abide her shouting out, correcting you when she didnt know the answer either, riling pupils with behavioural issues, then blaming my age for a problem in the lesson caused by her telling a boy to shut up who then told her to f off - even though I sent him out)
  9. Just a few thoughts to add from the TA perspective. I do agree that there are TAs out there who are difficult and undermining to work with. I know I have worked with one or two. However there are actually an awful lot of very good TAs out there too. Let's be honest, in any profession you care to name there will be hardworking individuals, who are excellent at their jobs and also those who are lazy and/or incompetent. The performance of TAs (and teachers) need to be considered in the context of the school they work in. Are staff adequately trained and supported to perform their role properly? Do staff receive good quality performance management? Are staff treated with respect? I could go on... To those who have never had a good TA: maybe this is because your school is not training and deploying their support staff well. How many teachers actually receive any guidance on how to effectively deploy and manage their support staff? I would like to think that I am good at my job, teachers seem to value my support and want to work with me. This is due in part to my hard work and dedication, however it is also because I have had the pleasure of working with and learning from some inspirational teachers and because my school has encouraged me to train and develop my skills further. I am welcome to attend staff meeting and training days, also to join in lesson planning meetings. I am always treated as a respected colleague by my class teacher. I doubt I would be as good at my job if I wasn't working in such a supportive school.
  10. I should add that the majority of TA's I work with are awesome and they are a valued part of my school its the select few **** ones that get all the attention though!

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