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New job as LSA... Really struggling...

Discussion in 'Teaching assistants' started by Lilybett, Sep 6, 2011.

  1. Hello!
    So I am a primary NQT but couldn't get a teaching job so have just started work an an LSA in a secondary school. And am feeling very out of my depth!
    I work with several children for a few hours each per week. I met the first one today and GOD! He's only Y7! As he sat down I chirruped: 'Hello, ______, I'm Miss L. and I'm going to be working with you in some of your lessons' and he replied: 'Oh, for ***'s sake.'
    Not wanting to get into a fight on our first meeting, and actually not knowing HOW to deal with the wee brat, I just muttered that that was inappropriate language and he told me to 'get lost'.
    He then swivelled to sit as far away from me as possible and hunched so his work was hidden. I could see it, though I pretended not to be looking, and could see cursive handwriting, perfect spelling and correct answers. He also got on with the work set without a peep. I kept trying, e.g. he sat and stared into space a bit before starting so I asked if he had everything he needed and he just told me to get lost again lol.
    I chatted to the teacher after and he was lovely. He said he could see why I hadn't gone mad about him saying that to me on our first meeting, but that he wouldn't tolerate it in future. But he also agreed that there had been no evidence of any academic difficulty (and some other children HAD struggled a bit with the task set). I have a few lines of info about all my kids and about this one, it says he has social and communication probs and can exhibit aggressive behaviours against chn and adults.
    I am absolutely at a loss as to what to do. I have to go with him to all of his English lessons, and Art, and D&T. Am absolutely dreading seeing him again. If he doesn't have academic difficulties, am I only there in case he has one of these aggressive temper tantrums? And if so, I have had no training and have no idea of what I should/can/cannot do, say, if he needs to be removed from the room and refuses to go, or if he attacks me or a peer. I'd love to be able to tell him that I wasn't exactly having the time of my lfe with him, either, and that if he could keep his behaviour in-check, he wouldn't need an LSA following him round, doing his head in, and then I could instead spend the time with a struggling child who would actually welcome an adult with them...!
    It's not the school's fault cos I was only offered the job on the last day of summer term, and I suppose that, as I've trained as a teacher, they feel even more that I can just be left to get on with it. I am hoping and praying that my other kids turn out to have academic, not attitude, problems because that will be absolutely fine. But what do you do if you are assigned to work with a child who doesn't want you there, refuses to engage with you and is unafraid to be that rude. On his first day of secondary school! Gawd, I was like a little, quivering mouse on mine!!
    This lovely teacher says I'll just have to see the SENCO and ask why I've been assigned this child and what exactly they want me to do with him, but I don't want the SENCO to realise how clueless I suddenly feel. And I suspect the other LSAs think I'm a bit up myself, because there is a VERY 'them and us' attitude about the teaching staff, and many LSAs are very vocal about their disapproval of the teachers and how they do things... One of my LSA colleagues asked me what I'd done previously so I didn't think I should lie, so I said I'd been a primary supply teacher. And today, when I walked into the LSAs' staffroom (we have a separate one...), someone else asked if he was true I'd been a teacher, then there were cries of 'I told you!', and then they were quizzing me on all this stuff, including what uni I went to (Cambridge), which was met with 'Ooooooooh's... Which sounded a bit sarcastic... I wish nobody had asked! I couldn't be bothered to lie, and don't really see why I should have, but I want to fit in with my colleagues, not have them think I think I'm better that them, etc. Actually, I already have SO much respect for LSAs (not that I didn't to begin with). As the class teacher, the kids naturally behave better for you and urrgh, working one-on-one with the really difficult kids day in, day out? LSAs should be on about 3x the money they're on, for FACT.
    Please help! xx
  2. Firstly, I'm so sorry you've had such a terrible start and really sorry to hear about the LSA/teacher divide...that sounds awful and really not conducive to good working relationships! Easier said than done, but try to ignore their pettiness to it and focus on your work.
    Please go and see the SENCO. I know you said you don't want to seem clueless but you need to know why you've been placed with this kid and what impact your presence is expected to make. A student assigned that much LSA input must have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) - or whatever variant name your school uses - somewhere and you need to see it. It should have been written up when he was assessed by SEN dept and should hopefully outline his needs, how best staff can support him and identify some targets/goals. Your SENCO needs to know your concerns because frankly if he doesn't need your support, there is bound to be another child who does! Don't be afraid to ask for help, maybe asking the other LSAs would actually help with the issues there too?
    Best of luck!
  3. hubcap

    hubcap New commenter

    First of all, I totally agree that LSA,SSA's should be on more money, it is a very stressful job!
    I worked with a child with SEBD for the last two years. She had exactly the same attitude. It was mainly because she didnt want the other children thinking she needed help.
    I had a chat with her and said that I understood how she was feeling and if she got on with her work, I would look over her shoulder now and again to check she was on task. This gave her a chance to 'prove' herself and me a chance to help those that need it for academic reasons. The class teacher was very pleased with the outcome. Although I still had to 'help' her occasionally with her attitude, it was a much smoother ride once we were not in each other's faces so to speak.
    Hope this helps you!
    As far as the other staff are concerned, I bet that dies down, it because you are new- the latest news!
  4. snugglepot

    snugglepot Occasional commenter

    Two things stood out to me in your post.....firstly that the SENCO hadn't spoken to you and also that the child is a Year 7 pupil. I am surprised that you were given this pupil to work with without a meeting with the SENCO. I would expect to be given an IEP at the very least.You need this information.If the child has social and communication problems is he on the Autistic Spectrum?
    If he has just started in Year 7 then he will be dealing with a lot of emotions.He is probably embarrassed too.I would have asked the teacher if I could withdraw him for say 15 -30mnutes to introduce yourself and find out a bit about him.My advice is go to the SENCO and try and get a short individual time with the child and find out something about his interests.Use this as a lever.If he likes football get some cards, find out which team he supports and learn about it -even if you can't stand football.Taking an interest in him will help to break down barriers this might be easier in lessons such as D&T and Art.You might be able to sit with agroup and when the tacher has finished the explanation you could perhaps sit and chat to the group about say music.I would discuss this with the teacher first.As for the language I would ask how he feels if someone speaks to him like that.Then I would tell him that it isn't appropriate behaviour and try and keep calm if he repeats it.You need to discuss sanctions with the SENCO and the class teacher.He will test you out at the beginning.If he is Autistic you need to do lts of reading and asked to go on some training.Good Luck.
  5. First meetings with students are the hardest, this student however sounds perfect for the target method. The conversation goes as follows,
    "The last time I saw you I could tell that you were an independent type of person, so what I am going to do is write on this board what you need to do. Every so often I am going to come over and give you the rubber to rub out all the tasks you've done."
    This achieves two things, he feels independent gaining in confidence which will hopefully lead to less behaviour issues. Secondly you can help other students who need it, getting away from the thing that annoys me most about my job. I am not there purely for behaviour, I am there to help teaching and learning.
  6. I really feel that being velcroed to one child is completely the wrong way to deal with a behavioural issue! Of course the child hates being singled out. When I was supporting in class I was, of course, aware of which children needed help/support, but I was available for any child who asked for help, so there was no overt singling out. I would also have expected to be introduced to the whole class as a person there to support anyone who needed help, not left to sidle up to children to introduce myself!

    It sems very strange to me that a completely inexperienced TA should be allocated a Y7 pupil who must, at this stage of the term, be a completely unknown quantity to any of the staff. It often happens that children who are flagged up as being 'challenging' by their primary schools come to Sec. seeming determined to turn over a new leaf. If this is what this pupil was thinking he could have been quite miffed at being not given a chance to prove himself.
    You need a chance to observe him, see what his flashpoints are (if any) and develop strategies to forestall trouble. I would back off the full on 'support' bit and give him some space to settle down. In the meantime, as others have said, try to find a point of contact which has nothing to do with school work and show a genuine interest in him as an individual. Don't forget to praise when he deserves praise.
    I would report back to the SENCo about his excellent behaviour and academic work and ask for more information about what exactly sets him off and what strategies s/he recommends to deal with a tantrum should it occur. I think that the class teacher should be taking some responsibility for his management, too.
    Don't feel clueless; the art of managing difficult pupils isn't learned in a day and there might always be one or two that you just cannot gel with, or who are beyond help.
    (I might add that I have seen pupils with supposedly highly trained/experienced outside 'support' glued to them (on reintegration from a PRU, for example) and being treated in a way that would make any sane person want to turn round and tell the 'support' person to b*gger off[​IMG] )

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