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teaching assistants-useful asset or a bit of a pain...? any views?

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by hexenkueche, Sep 19, 2006.

  1. Ophelia 9

    Ophelia 9 New commenter

    I am genuinely sorry to see that Tristessa is still so bitter and twisted towards TAs - especially as, if I recall correctly, her daughter is one of the dreaded breed!
    It's fairly obvious that you can't generalise on this subject - depends on the person how valuable they are - but I'm mightily relieved to find that it's not just another of the "TA bashing" threads which turn up with monotonous regularity on some tes forums!
    I would absolutely love to know what some of the teachers I work with really think of me - worked with two NQTs one year and they told me later that they were scared that I was thinking they were c*ap teachers - as if I ever would, they were both fantastic!
  2. Teaching assistants should be helping the teacher not doing their own thing. I think that some teaching assistants overstep the mark and start giving students the wrong information without first checking with the teacher. I'd rather not have any teaching assistants.
  3. Then again, they might end up showing **** teachers up........Couldn't have that, could we?
  4. I agree with all the supportive remarks re TA's that people have contributed. My TA's are fantastic and I would not get through the day without them - special school, VERY challenging class. We work as a team and discuss every issue that arises. However, I have worked with a hellish TA in the past - not in my present school. She was a nightmare. Totally uncommitted to the job, the children and no repect or care for colleagues. However, this had nothing to do with the fact that she was a TA. She was just that sort of person and would have been the same in any job.

    I do take issue with the comment from bevevans, however - "And SOME of us may have better qualifications than you so maybe you're the one with the inferiority complex!!!!!!"
    Your qualifications will not be better unless you trained as a teacher and scored a higher degree than he/she did. You may have a superior degree but unless it included teacher training you are not better qualified for the job a teacher does. You are clearly proud of the job you do and with good reason it would seem. I don't think TA's should have to justify themselves to teachers as long as they are doing a good job. I would not want to be without them.
  5. Well put Amy. Being sniped at on here on a regular basis doesn't help either.
  6. Our TAs are fantastic.

    The one gripe I have (but I haven't ever told them) is when they talk to a child when I am addressing the class.
  7. deut

    deut New commenter

    I have worked with some excellent TAs. They tend to be unobtrusive, supportive and help those around them. I find it reassuring to have them in the classroom with me.
    HOWEVER today I had a young male TA about twenty who would not sit with the student he was supposed to be supporting but roamed the classroom chatting to the students, interupting the lesson,shouting across the room then, without being asked, lolled in my chair and pretended to be the teacher.
    I haave never ever had a TA help with preparation. I teach 17 classes a week, nearing 500 students, but it seems Learning support teachers and TAs are only ever there in an advisory capacity. I can't believe how little Learning Support teachers do. I would not expect a TA to do any planning(and they never offer) but the LS teachers seem to have an amazingly easy life
  8. I don't think it is unreasonable not to offer to plan lessons when earning as little as £5.40 an hour, do you?
  9. I have worked as a TA in a special needs school, and an LSA, but currently am working as a lecturer and studying for my PGCE, so Im not the most qualified person on this thread. Working for a time as an LSA is truly amazing and I would recommend it to anyone. The perspective you get as an LSA is a completely different one to the teacher and really opened my eyes both to how the students might see me as a teacher, but also some of the good and bad teaching strategies across the school.

    I love the LSAs I have in my sessions. I give them my sesson plan and any notes and always make sure I ask if there is anything they observed while I was working, LSAs are there to support ne student and no, their role isn't easy. All sessions have to be written up, I don't know if our department is 'special' but the LSAs undergo training all the time and have to keep up on difficulties faced by our students ADHD, Aspergers etc.

    As a TA I helped with preparing some resources for lessons, covered the occasional lesson in emergency and took my turn at playground duty. TAs and LSAs are vastly underated - and extremely underpaid. I would certainly be an LSA or TA full time if the pay was even slightly adequate.

    Though I have never had any of the bad experiences that have been stated here, I don't know what I would do with an LSA who chatted, or slouched, or wandered around when they should have been with one student, probably report them to their line manager. I wouldn't dream of doing anything like that and I never passed any comment or judgement on a teacher's style unless that teacher asks me directly. Everyone teaches differently and just because someone's style is different to mine, doesn't make them wrong. I am not a strict 'nazi' style teacher, but I am an LSA with one and though our approaches are very different our results are very similar, we just approach it in a different way. She has the respect of some of her students and the hatred of others, I'm sure even with my more relaxed approach I have a similar range in my students.

    I do not claim to be any kind of authority, I am still quite new to teaching, I have seen so many teaching styles, I find it fascinating that there can be so many ways to aproach what seems to be the same thing, and yet everyone is right in their own way, we all teach in a style that suits us best and students seem to react best to those teachers who are the most predictable and natural, whether that is strict or friendly.

    Sorry for the long post, I just couldn't resist adding my twopence as I have a foot on either side of the fence (Ouch).
  10. Leapyearbaby64

    Leapyearbaby64 New commenter

    I think like all things this is largely a management issue. The right people need to be recruited in the first place and they need to have some training and they need to be supported and managed. The problem in schools is that there is very little time for support and management, particularly as most TAs are only paid for the hours they spend in the classroom.

    PS Thanks pleugh.
  11. I only have one 'regular' LSA once a week, they're lovely but have a habit of turning up at the beginning of a lesson, I presume they're there to support someone, but no, they want to know what I'll be teaching x next week! I know they have to plan in advance, but as I hardly ever use text books or worksheets, there's not normally any work for them to adapt. (They support a partially sighted student)
    The other one who pops up about once a week sits at the back and has to be cajoled like one of the students to be proactive. (And they've been there donkeys)During Ks4 lessons they get agitated if I don't ask them when they have their hand up!
    The others seem lovely as people but I've never worked with them.
  12. This is an interesting thread, and I wonder if any of you posting on it could help with a problem regarding a particular TA.

    I'm currently researching a family of five, all of whom are on the autistic spectrum, or have related conditions, including mum who is ADHD with Asperger traits.

    The 11-year-old boy (DAMP query Aspergers) was Statemented and had a wonderful TA, gentle, understanding, and very kind, who even went to course which she self-funded so that she could find out more about the spectrum, and how to help. He's now moved to secondary, and the transition has been smooth as silk, thanks partly to her influence.

    The 10-year-old, though, is a different proposition. He has ADHD with DAMP, and during the summer holiday was also diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy. He returned to school on the first day to find that the school had 'forgotten' to put in his statementing request (good job mum did it - but it still won't be ready until January). Also, the school advertised for a TA for him which was misadvertised as help for a child with Asperger's. No one applied for the job so the HT just left it, and the boy has no classroom support except for this general TA whom he hates and is scared stiff of.

    She's ex-military, extremely bossy and an egomaniac, semi-literate, who hasn't got a clue about children, but appears efficient and the HT, who is a wassock, thinks the sun shines out of her very large rear. The IEPs she's done aren't worth the paper they're copied on from IEP Writer, they haven't been sent home to mum for over a year, or discussed with the pupil, they're very much out of date, and this is the only TA the HT is offering to this little boy. Her child-skills are so poor, that she regularly tears up the children's work in front of them, and although the class teacher is lovely, the whole school is becoming dominated by this TA from hell who is now an HLTA, after only being at the school for 11 months.

    Mum has said she daren't let her loose on the child. She 'triggers' him. HT says it's her or lump it (the lovely TA, and all the other nice ones have been assigned to another class).

    The issue is that this woman hasn't got a clue about children or education. No teacher would act as she does. She now teaches the whole class two afternoons a week, and mum has to withdraw the child at those times.

    Any ideas how to get over this problem?
  13. maj


    Bjay, i know many families who have been there and worn that t-shirt.

    Don't hold your breath when they say january.
    The family could contact ipsea http://www.ipsea.org.uk/ to see what advice they have.

    It's the Head you need to work on here as if he/she is saying "it's her, like it or lump it, that's preety much what it will be.
    You need the sandwich technique to butter him up.
    That's the polite phrase, the other one is the bull**** technique.
    You have to tell the head what you are pleased about, then in a 'pleasant way ask for what you want and say what you are not so pleased about, that's the filling, then end with nice things again.
    It's not easy if you can't think of any nice things but you have to use your TOM here to outsmart them.
    Get inside their head, find what makes them tick and butter them up.

    As much as the family, you and i would love for all these children who need help to have the right sort of person with them, as personality is even more important than training IMO, parents won't have much say in who their child ends up with.
    So the reality is we have to help these children as much as we can to be able to circumnavigate their way through life.
    We all come across people who we would rather not be around us and sometimes we can avoid this people, other times we have to learn how best to deal with and keep ourselves safe.
    So for the short-term, the parents and yourself with any volunteers you can get would be the best ones to help this child learn how best to do this.
    Pick set times you could work on this.
    Two hours a week, 10 hours etc, however many hours you can all spare.
    This is best done one to one and you need one person to train the others.
    This way the person in charge maybe the mother will then have the conrtol on what is being taught and who is delivering it.

    I think the mum needs to trust her instinct and if she feels withdrawing him is fot the best at the moment then she should go with this and either do one to one work with him or you or a volunteer at this time.

    The prorities that need to be worked on are his feelings- you mention that he hates her and he is scared.
    So this is what imo i would work on.
    He will come across many people in his life who he may have these feelings about, so bounce ideas of each other of what you think would help him be able to feel less threatened and hate.

  14. Mum has four other children.

    Mum is ADHD/AS.

    Can we start from basics, please?

    Love your ideas but they don't compute in this scenario.
  15. Being a TA is different in every school, but ultimately a very hard job.

    I was a TA for two years, and one of them was the worst year of my life. I hated it with a passion. It was in a secondary where I was asked to help with a variety of subjects, some I had absolutely NO knowledge of.

    I had to work with a huge variety of teachers from GTP/NQT to v. experienced with such different expectations. Some would ask me to sit with the SEN student I was attached to, to make sure they behaved and didn't disrupt the lesson or other asked me to explain the work in very simple terms as we went along. This is a very hard thing to do for those of you who *expect silence*. A kid with a learning/language difficulty needs help following instructions and knowing what to listen out for as they absolutely cannot follow 10 mins of teacher talk.
    That means you need to talk quietly while the teacher is talking, it cannot be avoided. You're not providing differentiation if you don't allow that.

    If I wandered around the class some teachers would say 'Miss (they could never remember our names) could you please sit with X' If I sat with X some teachers would say loudly 'Miss, could you please see if anyone else needs help!'. Some SEN kids hate being singled out as needing help, so being told explicitly to sit next to them is the worst thing a teacher can do. We know who we're there to support, we're trying to do it subtly!

    Most NQTs with poor classroom management classes expected me to deal with behaviour. One would say 'I'm relying on you to pick them up on things and tell them off, I can't do it all on my own.' So what about the SEN kid who can't read, shall I just expect him to stare at the board, or draw pictures in his work book while I go round and split up fights and stop dangerous/disrputive behaviour? Others often leave the room while all hell breaks loose and you have to crowd control. That is not my job.

    As a TA I never had the respect teachers automatically got. I tried to discipline etc... but was pretty much ignored usually being told '**** off I don't have to listen to you, you're just the TA'.
    If I alerted the teacher to rudeness, some would just tell me 'I know, I can't control them either' and not back me up.

    I hated working with NQT's, with just a few exceptions, two were brilliant. Another told me never to deal with behaviour, as that was her job. So I was seen as the 'buddy', the nice one.

    My long and winding point is that in secondary when you're sent to any lesson, any level, that you may not always/regulary go to or even know the teacher that well it is very hard to know what that teacher prefers while trying to do your job of supporting a child.

    In my opinion it's the worst job in the world and I hope never to have to do it again!!!

  16. I have had some very different experiences with TAs.

    Last year I had a bit of a nightmare time (NQT year). The TA assigned to my year 6 set was, well lets put this politely, very good at her job. She would turn late to EVERY lesson. She would sit there chatting to the children (or try to talk to me about her weekend) whilst I was trying to teach. When put with ther spelling group once a week as part of my spelling programme the noise was unbearable as she had no control (this is the same woman who said I needed behaviour management training) and in the end I made a formal complaint about her after it came to light she had been bitching about my lessons to the other TAs.

    THIS year I work with 3 WONDERFUL TAs who work with a child in my year 6 class and they are professional and are everything you can hope for in TAs.
  17. purplefizz

    purplefizz New commenter

    why would you get upset when a TA wants to know what you are teaching in advance? Especially for a VI student. They obviusly need enlarged resources and want to help prepare them for you so what is the problem? Saves you work doesn't it?

    Also in regards to the talking whilst the teacher is talking I agree with Karatecat, many SEN students cannot follow chalk and talk, so a TA will differentiate as they go along so the child can access the information before switching off.

    The TA, that is talking while you are, may also be stopping fights, calming tantrums, keeping the said child in their seats, explaining what is going on or referring back to work done previously.

    I am sure that many, many, nasty incidents have been avoided by a TA nipping them in the bud before they start. Unfortunately if this coincides with the teacher talking we still have to make the decision whether to let it escalate or deal with it quietly.

    I am sure there are TAs that are not so conscientious and want to chat to a teenager about their weekend while the lesson is being explained.
  18. purplefizz

    purplefizz New commenter

  19. Just as there are poor teachers who shouldn't be in the job and who let the side down.

    Poor TA's, poor teacher's - no profession is exempt. Poor quality people exist throughout life!

    FAIRYDELL New commenter

    Tristessa, (post 9)maybe you have failed to build a rapport with the TA's that you've come across because you are in fact the bitter and twisted one. Perhaps you should worry more about your grammar and attitude rather than slag off TA's in general.

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