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Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by monicabilongame, Nov 1, 2015.
I had an 'Andrea' too!! Another problem I had with her was that she couldn't/wouldn't whisper.
She was a lovely lady but a complete nightmare in class. I did speak to her line manager but the problem was never tackled as the LM was a bit scared of her. Luckily, she was unique and all of the other TAs were brilliant.
Some of my closest friends (one of whom, from my previous school, I deem to be one of my best friends) are TAS, who are fabulous and I've worked really well with as a team.
However, one will always stick out in my mind. On two occasions, she went to her line manager to discuss me! One was to inform her line manager that the seating layout in my room didn't suit a particular Y8 class. In this instance, she was politely told that the layout of the room was up to me, as the teacher (something I am grateful to our colleague for supporting me with). Another time, she spent the lesson going round and checking through each and everyone of my students' excerise books. I wandered over to her and enquired as to why she was doing that and not working with the student, whom I had asked her to work with at the start of the lesson? I was met with a glare, but she did go back to her supported child. She did though, go and feedback on my marking to her line manager and mine. Fortunately, mine had enough sense to know that my marking is always of a good standard and laughed the matter off. She's not with me in any of my classes this year
One of my best friends was a TA. I was the SENCo and had about 20 full and part time TAs, as well as an intervention teacher and S<s.
We tried to implement many of the things Secret Teacher suggests. We had a weekly meeting that included break time, so we had a bit longer. TAs attended morning briefing, although after school meetings were more problematic, but we tried to make it easy for them to attend. We tried attaching TAs to departments and having them attend department meetings.
I wanted teachers to share their planning with TAs. Timing is the issue here, as TAs are often moving from one room to another. Sharing weekly planning is essential in my view.
We did extensive training with the TAs and their appraisal always included their ideas of what training they wanted. We tried to do it in school as much as possible, but we're happy to provide training at outside venues.
Of course, not all of them were as effective as one would hope, even with training. But the majority were well thought of and regarded as an asset.
Pay is a massive issue though. You can't expect people to stay for meetings etc, when they don't get extra pay and incur child care costs. For a brief spell, I was a TA and moved house about a month before the end of term. It cost me more in fuel to get to school, than I was paid!
I don't know what the answers are. I do know that I valued my TAs greatly and tried to deal with any issues that arose before they annoyed the teaching staff.
Well this resembles the crux of the issue with TAs. Schools employed "staff" as cheaply as possible. Class teachers often have no say on which TA they acquire. I know of one HT who led their SLT to "mix them all up" so that for example the TA with a Science degree who had worked very harmoniously and successfully with the science dept over quite some period was sent to humanities etc. There again there was the rarely teaching SENCO who ensured that all pupils sent to the debt were dealt with by the lowly TAs and not the highly paid/expensively trained/ extensively resourced and comprehensively course- jollied Senco! The same Senco sent a TA to "support" a very needy child in PE. Said TA never ever arrived when the child had to struggle to get changed or lingered when the class changed after the lesson, probably the most use they could have been! I can hardly remember any occasion when the TA put in any kind of contribution at all other than to stay on the sidelines of any court or pitch. I particularly remember the occasion when a JSL arranging a simple game of rounders whilst I had to deal with 2 kids who had were close to a fight and this "assigned" TA stood by whilst the child who was visually and hearing impaired put herself on 3rd base i.e. in line of possibly being hit by the ball and a position she wasn't capable of playing. Said TA was about as far away from her as she could possibly be. I gave up with efforts to try to ensure she did some kind of support role as she avoided any and managed to get away with that no matter what I did (Said Senco supported their minions no matter what!)
Wish we had had you as a Senco Foxtail!!!!
T'As can be very underpaid too
Should I become a TA?
As I said above, with the exception of that one TA, the rest that I have worked with have been fabulous. They are massively underpaid for what they do/are expected to do in many places.
One had a TA who was brilliant. She had a science degree and industrial experience. I was happy to tell the kids that Miss could answer their questions as well as me because of this.
The kids then got the idea that Miss was better then me because she had been a "proper" scientist and I was "just" a teacher. I was able to put them right on that by telling them I had been a "proper" scientist too before becoming a teacher and had worked in a similar job to Miss.
"So why did you leave to be a teacher then" was their next question. I am also wondering why
My point is a good TA can be worth their weight in gold (and a good science tech is worth double their weight). But a poor TA is best left in the staffroom.
Easy to be anecdotal and shows how experiences of TAs and their deployment varies massively.As the Head of Curriculum Support I taught half a timetable of languages ( French and Spanish ) and PSHCE - yes I was well remunerated but also modelled the practice I preached. The TAs were loyal, effective, hardworking compassionate and willing to learn - maybe I was just lucky ? and not well paid but this was something sadly I was unable to influence. They had PM targets, observations, feedback, were recipients of training ( pertinent to them as individuals and that identified as a whole school priority eg AFL ) and supported students in Faculty areas. I could go on. ....the point I am trying to make us that many ( some ? ) settings do not have sound rationales for deployment and accountability. It is about being professional, having high standards and crucially securing the best outcomes for the students in our charge.
I am lucky enough to have an amazing HLTA who used to be a teacher. In fact, she taught for 9 years before making the decision to leave due to work/life balance and become a HLTA. I'm only in my third year so to have her is fantastic; I've learnt quite a bit already from her (she only started in September).
To be fair i was speaking of some time ago when there weren't lots of highly - one could argue over- qualified TAs. I would also lay the blame entirely at the door of the person highly paid as Senco. One of the TAs was a great person with tons of life experience and a most competent person. A lifetime devotion to guiding and volunteering made her a wonderful asset whose input and love of her special needs students could not be faulted.
I've had some great TA's but one drove me mad. She would talk loudly when I'd ask for silence (this is secondary). In the end I used to send her off to do some photocopying, get a book from the library, supervise missed work. She just did not realise how distracting she was despite kind words.
Nearly all the TAs I worked with were great at their jobs and fully supported me in my role in the classroom.
I can think of two I didn't like so much. One a lazy EAL TA who didn't actually speak the same dialect of the home language as most of our pupils. The other a loud TA who'd set up camp at the back of the class and beckon pupils to work with her. I had to ask her to stop and just work with her assigned pupil.
But all the others were great.
I've never had an "Andrea" but did once have a TA (primary) who would just cut across what I was saying when she wanted a child to be quiet or sit down or something. It seemed it wasn't in her nature to go over to the child doing the wrong thing and have a quiet word, she'd just say it loudly from her chair.
I have to say, though, most of the TAs I've ever had have been brilliant. I like to think that when I was a secondary TA I was pretty good and not too annoying.
I had experiences with two TAs in my last school (secondary now academy)- one, brilliant; the other, useless. The first TA worked extremely well with one or two students, quietly and constructively.
The other TA....I was asked.to do cover (my first month in this school) and one of the students was rude and threatening towards me and I called SLT to remove the student. I asked why she hadn't supported me (she sat in the back reading the newspaper as her student was absent), she told me that I was the teacher, so what was it to do with her? I did cover that class a few more times (and had a thicker skin, so when that student made a slightly nasty remark, I laughed it off), I said I did not want that TA anywhere near me. I think others may have complained, but I didn't have her again....
I agree that TAs are underpaid. The majority the them are a real asset in the classroom. I have always found them even more useful when they have chosen to be attached to your department. When they are a department member they work with the same teachers consistently and there are opportunities to agree approaches with different groups and different pupils.
I did come across a couple of unhelpful TAs. One struggled to follow what I was teaching and so could not help the pupils. Another thought he knew better than me. He wanted to be best friends with the pupils. He would ignore direct requests from me and show pupils a different method to the one I had taught. It was difficult to deal with because he did not report to me, or anyone in my department.
Once the Ed psych came in to observe a pupil in my class and told me that the most disruptive person in the room was my TA.
I liked her, but she did always have a group round her chatting. I used to have to say "Have you finished Miss?" before I could start and she would busily shush all the kids around her when she had started the chat in the first place.
I really don't think she had any idea of the effect she had in the classroom.
I recently had a TA with ADD. He couldn't stick at anything for more than 30 seconds. I spent the whole lesson trying (and failing )to keep him on task.
I'd set him (increasingly easy, small) tasks but within 30 secs he'd wander off to help (interrupt) another student. Basic instructions e.g. Read the question, give student a key word just meant, have a lengthy conversation (well 30 seconds worth) with the student before going to 'help the more able.
(I've had some really good ones too who made my lessons a joy)
I have had some fantastic TAs, the best ones almost read your mind and just know where to put themselves and what to do next (this is primary)
However I had one who was doing her NVQ in caring and had to do a placement with children (think they had to do care home placements too) and she was dreadful, just sat there doing nothing, had to be directed all the time was completely unable to use her initiative and was quite surly. I was meant to be doing reports for her NVQ but I never saw them, then I caught her asking my full time TA to do it and pretend she was the CT! After I spoke to my TA and said that it wasn't her responsibility to do that and as CT it was mine, she just shrugged and said she didn't realise.
When I mentioned this to the head she must have had a word because this "TA" didn't come back again after that.