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TAs who tread on your toes

Discussion in 'Teaching assistants' started by caroharo, May 20, 2010.

  1. champansara

    champansara New commenter

    I agree with you entirely. There is (and wasn't any) problem. I have the pleasure of observing many brilliant, hardworking and inspiring teachers in my job as a secondary TA. I have,unfortunately, also had a few bad experiences with teachers, which have made it hard for me to do my job, and what is worse, turn students off learning entirely, which is a shame.
    I have utmost respect for my colleagues. Teachers get a lot of grief, and the workload is crazy, and the pay doesn't compensate as it should. However, there are plenty of TAs who get so little pay that without state benefits (tax credits) wouldn't be able to pay rent or feed their kids. Sometimes they don't deserve even the little they get, but the majority of TAs I know do a lot more than they are paid for, things that just wouldn't be done otherwise.
    It is wrong to use TAs to teach whole classes, but I do think that there needs to be a more clear and gradual progression from unqualified TA to fully qualified teacher, which doesn't necessary need full time university. I know teachers with 1st degrees from very illustrious unis who can't teach, yet others with inferior degrees can reach kids in an inspiring way. The Foundation degree and HLTA are meant to offer this, but unfortunately, most schools in my experience only back the HLTA beacuse it has been fully funded, and they don't then follow through with HLTA jobs and certainly not pay. My school will not fund the extra modules needed to acheive the Foundation Degree either.
    I met a woman the other day in a shop, and for some reason she was talking about teachers, and she shocked me by saying 'I always tell my kids that teachers don't deserve respect, they must earn it'. I had to bite my tongue, because I was afraid what I might say, it made me so angry. Unfortuately, bad school experiences lead some people to have this view. The idea that teachers should have some sacred protection from criticism also leads to this kind of back lash. We should be able to criticise bad teaching, in a positive way initially, with support, but ultimately, no teacher should be protected from their own incompetence. Bad teachers should be sackable, just as any other profession. I know a head of department who cannot get rid of a useless teacher, despite repeated complaints from parents and other staff. The teacher just plays the 'stress' card and threatens to go to the press. This puts all the good teachers into bad repute, as many people don't remember the hundreds of good teachers, they only remember the bad.
  2. champansara

    champansara New commenter

    As for the OP, there simply needs to be more joint training focussed on TA-Teacher communication and collaboration. There hasn't been any training at my school that involves TAs and Teachers in the SEN context and how to work together. Maybe in primary it is different, but from talking to TAs from other schools in the Devon area, there is teacher training, and there is TA training, and never the twain shall meet!

  3. I see, you thought you'd post it here to help TAs behave in the way you wish.
    Have you actually tried talking to the TA, if they regard it as a reprimand maybe it's the way you have approached them.

  4. Funnily enough I have had a similar sort of problem. I work as a TA and in one particular class the behaviour was not very good. I did not want to step on the Class Teachers toe's and kept waiting for her to take control and discipline the students. Eventually, after a few lessons, it dawned on me that she was waiting for me to deal with it. Without a word to me, she had decided that she was there to teach and I was there for everything else! Once I understood the situation, it was fine, it all works very well now, but I do wish people would just talk to me. I love it when a teacher meets me for the first time and then takes the time to explain how they work and what they do and don't want me to do.
  5. I tell teachers and TAs that a TA is a resource provided by the school to enable the CT to make provision for ALL pupils in the class <u>however they see fit</u>. Every teacher is an individual and all classes are different. It is the responsibility of the teacher to make it very clear at the outset exactly HOW they want the TA to operate in the classroom. It can be difficult for young teachers especially when working with an older/more experienced TA but they have to learn to do this and should be fully supported by senior management.As a general rule TAs should not talk when the teacher is talking to the class and should not interrupt even for disciplinary matters. A good TA will develop a range of non-verbal 'prompts' to encourage pupils to stay on task.
  6. I agree Jan 810. I have worked with teachers who have explained how they work and what they require from a TA and have thoroughly enjoyed working for/with them. Unfortunately these teachers are very few and far between. I have found younger teachers are much more accepting of TA's and don't seem to be so threatened by having another adult in the classroom.
  7. I have 10 years of experience working with teachers and other ancillary staff within schools. I am also a union representative.
    The subject that you have broached is an interesting one and in my opinion I don't care how many years experience you have, as what I have seen over the years is that there doesn't seem to be consistency between the teaching memebrs of staff. I ma aware that we have to be flexible in our approach when dealing with studnets, however ignoring a child's behaviour isn't the answer.
    You will find that TA's are put into a difficult situation as when things go wrong they too are pulled up and quizzed as to why they didn't do anything or difuse a situation within a classroom. Both TA's and Teachers should work together and in harmony as if there is conflict the only losers are the kids.

  8. In my experience, working with lots of different teachers, they all work differently and all expect very different things from their TA's. At the end of the day, if you're not happy with the way your TA works (or doesn't work) in the classroom then you should speak to her about it. If you don't speak up then she can hardly be blamed for thinking that you're perfectly happy with everything as it is
  9. As a T.A. I ,and the teacher with whom I will be working, discuss what is required of me in class. Should I not be clear on what I am expected to do in a certain situation I will discuss this at the earliest opportunity. All the teachers I have worked with have let me know if they would like me to deal with issues in a different way. This year I have worked in a class with 3 teachers sharing the teaching throughout the week. I am aware of the expectations and act accordingly.
    If children are expected to be quiet whilst the teacher is talking, then so should any adults present. This is just good manners.

  10. I'm getting tired of TAs who (a) sit on the side chatting while I'm teaching then don't know what the children are supposed to be doing when they start their task and, worse, (b) jump in to discipline children when I'm using a more subtle strategy, e.g. tactical ignoring of some sort of behaviour

    Have you ever thought that perhaps the reason they are talking is to explain something to the child or to each other. If they are not normally in your class then they won't know what you have been doing. I am a TA and quite often I talk when the teacher is so that I can either explain to the child as the teacher goes along what she/he means or to encourage the child to be quite and listen to the teacher.

    As for your thoughts on discipline, is it at all possible that you haven't bothered to inform the TA's that you are using the subtle approach?

    I'm not saying that every TA is perfect and can do no wrong, far from it. I am simply saying that in my experience the vast majority of teachers do not bother to explain their plans or methods to the TA's outside of the classroom. In my opinion many teachers don't understand how difficult it is to be a TA and also don't understand about what skills and experince the TA has. I have found that some teachers seem to view TA's as bored housewives just doing it to pass the time and many seem to think TA's are poorly educated. Even worse, some teachers have actually treated me as though I am stupid and spoken to me as though I'm stupid in the classroom. When they have found out that I actually have the same level of education as them (more in some cases with trainee teachers) they have been shocked (although not sufficiently to apologise for their behaviour and attitude).

    Overall TA's are given a hard time by everyone. They are poorly paid by the schools, often overlooked by management and expected to work for free frequently, treated poorly by both staff and students and expected to be an expert in every subject at every level in order to provide the same depth of knowledge as the class teacher. I think it should be a compulsory part of teacher training to spend at least half a term working as a TA to see what a raw deal TA's are given.

    In future if you are going to post something like this on the TA forum, perhaps you should spend a little longer planning what you are going to write in order to make your comment tactfully!!
  11. As a TA myself, I think it depends a lot on individual personalities and professionalism. I myself would not dream of stepping on my teacher's toes, unless I knew she would prefer me to step in, but again, in a discrete and professional way.
  12. Hi ya, I am a TA myself, and a young one at that (23) but i still have the respect to not talk at the side of the class while the teacher is doing her job. This is a pet hate myself, having had two first year students in the class for some weeks who liked to talk during the input of the lesson, it gets really annoying. Both me and the teacher at sepaerate occassions had to ask them to stop. i worded it tactfully as to not hurt thier feeling by saying its hard to hear the teacher talk.
    With the behavior, maybe your TA doesnt understand that you are ignoring certain behaviours, instead of giving them negative attention which the child can thrive from. it took me a while learn this and perhaps the TA may not know this technique.
    If after you have talked to them (tactfully) and they carry on then maybe a more serious tone may be needed.
  13. Goodness me, you talk about TAs as if they are beneath you. Why dont you ask your head teacher to move the TA to another class and cope on your own. The work they do is brilliant for the pay they get. I suggest you look on your TA as an equal and work as a team
  14. ditwee

    ditwee New commenter

    I have worked as both TA and teacher. Being a TA is hard - I am answering this post partly from that viewpoint. From a TA point of view - TAs have to listen to boring teacher talk (sorry - but much of it is boring), are regularly expected to enforce discipline but don't have the authority of the teacher, are often not given the planning and currently, are paid very little but know that they will be the first ones kicked out when the cuts come. Teacher training is very much on the job and if their previous teacher was weak in the area of discipline and expected them to help, they will carry on with the same techniques. Does your planning explicitly state what you want TAs to do during your input ( support X, Y and Z in listening to and understanding the teacher, for e.g.)? I always have a long list of things for TAs to do and they usually get on with it, but if I think they need to listen to my input so they understand what I am trying to achieve better. For the discipline issue, some TAs have an entrenched model for dealing with behaviour which they have used when working with many different teachers. As you are part-time you are just, from a TA point of view, passing through. They will be relying on their existing proven methods of dealing with behaviour, which they think is supporting you. Given that they do not have your authority or experience (and children are, as you know, very adept at judging to the tiniest level how much authority someone has), they will be used to using unsubtle ways to keep order in a classroom. TAs are often expected to control behaviour of a class during transitions, PPA time etc., then the teacher arrives and 'takes over'. Have you been explicit about what you want them to do? I have had and known of similar issues with very well-meaning TAs with barking loud voices and brusque manners with children. This may sound daft, but have you asked them to observe you and how you discipline the children, modelling your more subtle controls for them and explaining the rationale behind it. Try explaining again that you are trying to create a calm and peaceful learning atmosphere, so chatting and 'jumping in' spoil it.
  15. hubcap

    hubcap New commenter

    Oh this post has given me a headache!
    All teachers are differant in what they want and dont want. All TAs are differant too. You need to call a meeting and tell the TAs what you want. Remember that they have been given a job description from the school, ask your school for a copy and take it into account so there is no confusion before you give out your class rules.
    For example tell them that in their job description it say to help with the behaviour of the children in the class. In your class you would like them to help by.......
    In their job descrption it says to help pupills understand the work given. You want them to help the child by not answering questions whilst the teacher is talking, but to remember the question later and answer it then. If this is what you were meaning by TAs talking when you are.

  16. You say you have been teaching for a long time. Perhaps you would prefer the 'good old days' with no Ta. TAs are underpaid and overworked and 9 times out of 10 never get thanked for the overtime they put in to help keep the class running smoothly. The whole them and us attitude went out with the Ark - nowadays most other people work as a team including the TAs into strategies and roles to play. Perhaps your own communications need retraining!
  17. I just wanted to say I love the way my TA operates. She is very pro-active, and I love how she talks to the kids- she say's it how it is!
    She doesn't need much direction, she just gets on with it, and we seem to get on really well. I respect her, and I make sure the kids see this so that they too respect her.
    She say's she enjoy's my lessons, I enjoy having her there, it's nice to have another adult in the room with a very 'challenging' class.
  18. Dobbinstar

    Dobbinstar New commenter

  19. Hi,I think you might want to look into just how much training T.A.s actually have. I love my job but I first got it on the basis of my experiences outside a classroom and everything I have learnt has been from the teachers and fellow T.A.s I have worked with. Even the NVQ3 I have just completed really felt like a verification of what I already know and a sharing of best practices with colleagues. None of us actually learnt anything new. I have worked with a number of teachers now and I have to say that one of the most important skills for a T.A. is to be chameleon-like in the classroom. No two teachers are the same and, with the greatest of respect, there are some who do need a lot more support than others and I have been in the position where it was important that I was strong/ brave/ vocal enough to speak up and control behaviour. I try to take my lead from the teacher, and I am direct enough to ask them to tell me if I am not working in the way they would wish. I work with two reception teachers at the moment who job share. They are both really experienced, and both lovely but completely different. One asked me to say less on the carpet,so I do, one said she liked the way I worked. The key is open and honest communication between everyone. You seem to see your T.A's input as a critism, she may see it as the best way she can support you - refusing to allow poor behaviour to interrupt your hard work. Maybe that's what her last teacher wanted. We get paid pittance and work many, many hours more than we get paid for so we don't do it for the money. The majority of us love the kids, love the work, have relevant ideas, opinions and input and just enjoy being thought of as part of a team, rather than the annoying body at the back of the class who hasn't learnt to read minds yet.
  20. I have had some brilliant experiences with previous TA's however I am currently not having the best time. Although I get on with my TA really well, her pro-active tendancies are going way beyond her role as a TA. I explain to her daily what I would like her to do and she does this with no questions asked however she doesn't stop there......................she informs parent's of behaviour/issues etc without telling me or okaying it with me (sometimes she doesn't even tell me of the issue in the first place she just goes straight to the parent), she overides decisions I make abd does something different, she goes and changes displays without asking me and creates what she wants, and comes storming overwhilst I am teaching on the carpet to say 'who's jumper is this it was on the floor' etc and interrupts me entirely. Now I know lot's of people will say talk to her about it however, what kind of person would find that acceptable in the first place - is she not embarassed of her actions? I have let her know previously that I am not happy with her behaviour at times but I definately think TA's need to be trained in what's appropriate behaviour. I was a TA before I trained to be a teacher and I wouldn't dare step on the teacher's toes as I wasn't paid to do that. I just don't understand how some TA's can act in this way? Naturally surely they should think the teacher is in control and will let you know what they want you to do. Like I said previously of course not all TA's are like this so please don't fell like I am taring you all with the same brush because I am not.

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