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I have the world's most critical and power hungry TA

Discussion in 'NQTs and new teachers' started by red30, Oct 30, 2009.

  1. sorry everyone but I'm going to have a bit of a whinge.
    I teach Y5 primary and I have a HLTA who has been at the school for years. She knows the kids and the school far better than I do. She's aspiring to be a teacher and from what I can tell she has done for years but out-of-school commitments have stopped her doing a degree + ITT.
    Since day one she's been incredibly critical of the way I work but I don't think it's intentional - there's no malice behind what she says and does. That's just the way she is. It comes across in the way she acts and the things she says. In a nutshell, she badly wants to be a teacher and I think it really bothers her that she's working for someone ten years younger and with far less experience.
    She's on a constant power trip. She wants to be involved in everything and she makes mountains out of molehills. Classic example: I once put a sweatshirt on over my shirt and tie and she started quoting the school policy on dress code at me!
    I wouldn't mind except I don't think she's a particularly good TA. I asked her to draft a letter to parents once and the grammar was shocking. When working in grouups she often goes off on a tangent and children don't complete the tasks they were assigned. From her reaction when I ask her to photocopy or file work away, she considers those tasks beneath her.
    The woman is a nightmare to work with. She was told by the head that she'd be working with me because I was an NQT and her role would be to support me. I think in her head she interpreted 'support' as 'supervise'.
    The past few weeks have been a constant fight because I refuse to let her bully me or take over the running of my classroom. Admittedly I'm finding it difficult but which NQT doesn't? What I don't need is to have to contend with a childish, overly-critical and unsupportive TA who refuses to accept my authority as the class teacher. She's worn me down far more than the children have. I've had a good rest over half term and I feel able to take her on again but the point is, I don't think I should have to.
    sorry for the whining. thanks for reading!
  2. Just before I write would like to point out that I have a Mac so it won't be separated into paragraphs because The TES hasn't set up for the html code or summit. Anyway, I digress... I have the same problem. I have constant interruptions when I am teaching the main input, when I have explained how to do a task they go off with allocated children and produce something different. This person is constantly in my face and it is driving me crazy. As the OP says, it is not that they are trying to be bullying and I really, atm, don't see it as such but it is the fact that they obviously think they can do a better job then me. This person is younger, just, and is wanting to be a teacher and TBH without trying to be big headed, I think I make teaching look easy. This is because I work my butt off, am in early, stay late, plan lots and am extremely organised and consistent. I think my TA see's me teach and thinks its a piece of *** and could do better. Other TA's say to me that my TA is too big for their boots and is generally getting on everyones nerves. To the OP, just wanted to say I understand. To anyone that replies some advice in how to handle this would be great!
    Thanks for reading.
  3. this is something I forgot to mention. My TA is the same and is known for being bossy ad taking over. She doesn't play nice with others. Honestly, it's like having an extra child in the class!
    I'm really not sure what the solution is. When we go back to school on Monday I intend to keep a log of every incident where she's tried to undermine or contradict me. That's the sort of thing I can take to SLT if and when it comes to that. As for the best way to deal with her, I'm going to try being very prescriptive with what I ask her to do and have as much of it on paper as possible. Again, this could be used as evidence if SLT are involved but more importantly, there's less ambiguity for her in what I've asked her to do.
  4. If I was you, I would give her, her own timetable. I do this with my TA which explains exactly what I want them to do while I'm teaching, which children they should focus on etc. If they are not doing it then I like to know why they're not doing it. I've also said things like 'Mrs... what did we say you'd be doing while I'm working with this group?' usually with the response of 'oh well erm...' as they realise that you are in charge.
    TA's are very valuable and I would suggest that as you have a HLTA, that you give her lots of group work to do with the children, possibly taking children out of class. What year group is it? I teach Year 5 and my TA's are always off doing some sort of intervention or another. Hope this helps!
  5. I had a very similar problem with my TA... infact most CT's have in my school with this particular TA.
    I had to be very honest and tell them i felt like some of their actions/comments undermined me - and that i needed to learn for myself etc.... and also because i am the CT. Although my TA still occassionally slips up, they are very apologetic and do understand where im coming from. I think if your honest and can appoach them, but be very firm with reasons then they should respect you for doing so.
    PS i've learnt to be quick with the feedback...i.e. if they over step the mark, i like to let them know soon as the chn have left. It is slowly working and has built a better relationship between us.
  6. Thanks for the advice. I work in a special school so tend to have maybe 3 or 4 TA's with me in one class but it is this particular one that is being consistently the biggest pain in my ****! As the OP said, building up the strength to battle on for another 7 weeks! I always brief my TA's on what I expect and what I want them to do and I give constant praise when they work hard and really support me but this one TA just thinks that they are the business and that the only reason the kids get anything done is because of them. Pah. We shall see how the next few weeks go! :)
  7. As a previous poster said, providing her with target groups that she could perhaps take out of the classroom daily would be a good plan as a) she will be doing a valuable task that she could assess and monitor/plan for herself and b) she will be out of your face leaving you with a smaller class!

    Maybe pick your LA group and find a specific target that you'd like her to develop with them - reading comprehension, phonic knowledge for spelling, or something quite narrow so that she can take them for work for 30 mins a day or so and plan each session herself. Make time to talk to her afterwards to ask how they are getting on, and what she sees as the next steps, and shower her in praise.
    If you are nothing but sweetness and light, give her the responsibility she so obviously craves, but also make it obvious when she has overstepped the mark, if she still chooses to be arrogant and cocky then she wont have a leg to stand on if you get to the stage where you have to consult SLT.
    My TA has always been excellent but very highly trained and experienced, and we have a fantastic working relationship because i have always made it clear to her that i will readily accept any advise she has and we work together, i rarely make a decision without checking what she thinks first but this is because i genuinly value her opinion and experience, and she is not the type to go over my head either.
    She admitted to me on her hen night after a few glasses of wine that she was terrified at the beginning of what i might be like but she has loved working with me, and i could happily return the compliment. She said the thing that made it for her was when on the first day i basically said "Please please please interrupt if im doing something that isnt in line with how the school works", but again she isnt the kind to take this too far.
  8. lillipad

    lillipad New commenter

    I have a TA who butts in when i'm teaching all the time, takes over my lessons and generally makes a nusciance of herself. I wouldn't mind, but she NEVER does what i ask her to do!! If she works with a group, they do their own thing and not what i've asked, i've even tried giving her her OWN planning (Not even mine adapted) and she still doesn't follow it. I've given her lists of activities she can do, but she doesn't do them. I've given her phonics plans and NOTHING!
    The advice my mentor gave me was to either get tough or go and see the head and get him to do it for me, because it's a joke. I'm the professional and she should be supporting me and doing as i ask.
    And so should yours.
  9. manc

    manc New commenter

    I'm glad I'm not the only teacher who thinks TAs are often a pain in the backside. This is what happens when the 'teacher manques' get their hands on a classroom. It goes to their head. It's exactly the same in the special school where my wife teaches - the distinction between teacher and nursery-nurse is very blurred, so that the nursery nurses think they are on a par with the teaching staff. Of course, you wouldn't see them for dust on an INSET or a parents' evening.
  10. I have
  11. I have
  12. Unfortunately, you are in for a rocky ride in teaching if you are allowing a TA to determine how your class is being run.
    I suggest that you toughen up and decide that you are the one that is in charge. The children will sense if you are not and will play you against her. You need to tell her that you are looking for her support, not supervision and that you have done the planning and wish it to be carried out and that you would like her to demonstrate her understanding of her role by self assessing her work and what she has achieved with the children on a daily basis. If you are fair with her and show her that you are in fact in control, and not her... she will actually feel a lot happier. She is obviously not sure of your capability at the moment. Rather than react to her, be the one who is the leader. She is trying to undermine you and you are rising to her bullying. Ignore all snidey comments, but take note of them.Take control and suggest that you discuss the matter with the Head Teacher immediately. The Head will already know all about her and you should be fair in your criticism and go in to the meeting with suggestions for a practical solution of how you can work with her. On no account be negative as this will just make you seem like you are inexperienced and unable to work with other people... not a good trait for being a teacher!!
  13. Oh dear, sorry I'm not sure what happened there...it posted without my permission!
    Anyway! What I was trying to say was this....
    I have great respect for teachers with difficult TAs. Many years ago I was a TA...they were known as LSAs then. It wasn't unusual to see a certain sort of arrogance in some of them and very often they believed they knew better than qualified, experienced teachers. There were many good ones, those that understood what it really meant to be an assistant, team players whose priorities were to help children with or without being recognised for their efforts whilst remembering the 'boss' in the classroom was the teacher.
    One thing that did help with problems people have described in this thread was to introduce appraisals. Some, of course, took it personally thinking they were being criticised and taken down a peg, but most understood that appraisals gave the teachers and the support staff an opportunity to talk about problems as well as gain an insight into what development was needed. Sometimes they just felt it was time to move on and facing facts gave them a little helping hand in the right direction.
    Support staff who have been with a school for a long time find it harder to adjust to change. They need to understand why changes are necessary and how to adapt. Someone in the school needs to have responsibility for mentoring support staff whether they are 'newbies' or 'oldies'. This would take some of the pressure off teachers.
    If a TA is failing in their duties can I suggest the problem is brought it up at a staff meeting, possibly suggesting specific training for them. The longer one 'stews' the worse it gets and eventually the children will pick up on the negative 'vibes' and react accordingly!
  14. Hi there!
    As previously stated I would certainly ensure an HLTA spends most of his/her time working with children. In order to keep the group on track I would review the group's work with the TA and professionally push for the depth, pace and rigour you feel the children are capable of... keep plugging the fact that we need to push ahead and conscientious teachers keep this in mind at all times.
    Give your TA a 'jobs book' outlining jobs to be completed during non-contact time. This forms a record of her lack of work. Alternatively, use it as a team jobs book for both of you: initial every job each of you does...see a pattern building of your hard work and her lack of work. Make sure you don't ask her to write any letters or do anything else that a teacher should do. Make the division clear! After all, you're the one being paid to do it and have ultimate responsibility.
    Give your TA a weekly timetable and comment on each activity, eg group work not finished, display work not done etc. Keep a record of each week's timetable and make sure she knows you're keeping it, ie keep a file, and each week put the timetable in after going through it with her and writing comments. By making it clear that you are keeping a record your TA should begin to feel uneasy and be aware that you may intend to use it.
    As you said, I feel you need to keep a record of any concerns. Tell your Head Teacher you are keeping a record of her behaviour because you feel you are in a stressful and difficult position. When you have enough evidence you should take it to your Head Teacher. It is their responsibility to sort it out. However, if the TA refuses to do as you reasonably ask, then I would make your Head aware immediately as the TA may not be fulfilling their contract. Don't leave it too long... your health is far more important! If push comes to shove your Head should find a way to move the TA elsewhere. We recently had a very similar situation to this. The TA in question was eventually moved and a less-experienced TA was put in the class. The situation was immediately alleviated for the NQT. The TA felt put in her place and now things have settled down. I certainly would thing long and hard before placing an experienced TA in with an NQTagain. It doesn't always work...did you get this particular TA because everyone else had had their turn and didn't want her again?!!! If so, it's unfair of your management to do that to you...
    Hope this helps...and don't let it put you off...I still love my job 24 years down the line!!!

  15. Sadly you'll come across that sortall throughyour career! Try to appreciate her strengths and help make your life easier. I alwasy give them loads of copying to do if they really annoy me and I can't bear them anymore! Connie Beacham in Casualty came out with some classic: "Sorry! Did you think this was a democracy?" I often say it in my head when unwelcome opinions are expressed! LOL. YOur first year is your worst! It gets better...
  16. I think we need to remain objective and professional instead of making the generalisation that Teaching Assistants are a waste and 'pain in the ***'. I have just started working as a teaching assistant however I am tertiary qualified and have a wide range of experience in other sectors including supervising and managing staff. I have been surprised at how closely I have to work with the teacher and how much flexibility, respect and tolerance is required for a good working relationship. Both members of such a close knit team must be professional, mature and communicate effectively.
    There has been some excellent recommendations from other posters:
    • giving quick and honest feedback when you feel something went wrong always in the first person
    • sitting down and raising the issue honestly from your perspective and discussing expectations, roles and responsibilities
    • including your TA in decision making and respecting their contributions and opinions
    • respecting the skills and attributes that they bring to the team
    • giving your TA responsibility with clear objectives and following up with your TA as to whether those objectives were met and if not, why not, eg. did the task not meet the objective as expected, was it targeted too high or too low, did your TA meet the objective in another way etc.
    Of course, your TA also has their responsibility for mature and professional communication and teamwork.
    A defensive, aggressive or patronising attitude will not help you achieve your objective of teaching your class in a positive learning environment eg. 'refuses to accept my authority'. Ask yourself
    • How confident do I feel in my role and how is that contributing to my relationship with other people?
    • What experience / qualifications does my TA have?
    • What are my expectations of a TA?
    • What strengths does my TA have?
    • What skills does my TA have that could help my students reach their potential?
    • How can I use my TA's strengths and skills to help students achieve their learning objectives?
    Good luck.

  17. lol. I had one refuse to wash the paint pots because they were an LSA. I said: "Great. I 'll do it. You take the class." It was a PRU. The last laugh was had with much merriment over dinner that evening!
  18. I really cannot believe the generalisations that some of you are making!
    I'm a HLTA, and I've worked with truly dreadful TAs, so I know they exist. As many people have said on here, the only way to deal with it is to talk to her and make the situation clear. I know that I really value being given a specific role within each class. It makes life much easier and more constructive for me, the teacher and the children. But to imply that support staff are responsible for declining standards in literacy and other subjects is plainly ridiculous. You also need to remember that this works both ways. I left my previous job because I was put in with an NQT who was, frankly, awful and I was having to pick up the slack with planning, assessments (and yes I did and still do attend every single INSET day and parents evening), marking and general classroom management. I didn't do this because I was power hungry or desperate to be the class teacher - heaven knows they don't pay TAs anywhere near enough for that - but because otherwise the children in the class would have suffered even more than they did through having such a weak teacher, and that went against what I believe. I'm not saying that any of you are bad teachers, just that there are good and bad TAs, and good and bad teachers. Each is an individual and, as you rightly point out, the teacher is the one in charge and should therefore be the one to deal with it in a grown up and responsible way.
  19. I agree that it's no use being negative - whilst I can understand the desire to get this (these? Where are they all coming from?!) difficult staff member as far away from you as possible, it might be a good time to grit your teeth and treat her like the child she's being! In other words, if there's anything you can do to address her feelings of being undervalued, go for it. Look for the reasons behind her behaviour and see if you can do anything about them - not out of any desire to social work her, but because it might be a shortcut to helping you out of this situation.
    In our school we have very good relationships between teachers and TAs, because the TA contribution is highly valued - nuts to the person who said support staff aren't necessary - and teaching staff are well aware of the mess they'd be in without them. A badly behaved TA like yours just wouldn't be tolerated, or employed in the first place.
    All I can suggest is that you involve your TA as much as possible in planning, assessments, IEPs, monitoring etc. This may be a difficult thing to start, but if she is feeling undervalued then stepping up her involvement might, after some dodgy beginnings, start to show results.
    Besides, if you're an NQT why aren't you full of the joys of professional cooperation, forgiveness and understanding? LOL!
  20. Rooneys you made me smile. The Deputy Head at my school had a particularly effective method....she put all the pots of pencils on one table and when the TA (LSA) arrived in class calmly informed her there was a change of plan and she wouldn't be working with the children for a while...instead all the pencils needed sharpening and sorting. Meanwhile the children's attention was focused on the teacher (authority in the class) and none on the assistant.

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