Any teachers who could advise on managing TAs?

(78 Posts)
blackcoffee Tue 20-Nov-12 23:11:32

And before you refer to tes, I've looked!
I'm NQT, mid 40s doing maternity cover in EYFS. One of my TAs has been at the school for ever and has set ideas about how to run the room. In fact I think she has run it, to all intents and purposes, in the past. It's not too bad when I am in class but when I am not (ppa/NQT) the outdoors will be shut and children will be given very controlled activities which are not on the planning. I have addressed a couple of points with her but she doesn't seem to get the concept of child initiated. The HT seems to like the way this works and the other person in the school who has similar view on EYFS has worked with TA and found it impossible, so no real solutions. I am a big fan of early phonics, which TA teaches, and while I don't mind lessons going off plan I want to stress phoneme not grapheme at this point .. which I have explained, but she'll ask me for a box of letters - so I remind her, and she'll agree, oh no, we're not doing letters, just the sounds... I have explained this but it's not sinking in. I feel really unsure of how to handle it all. When I am teaching TA either sits on a chair with a blank expression on her face, interrupts or is off in another room chatting to colleagues. I've tried explaining about being on carpet with children, have modelled the support I give but it might happen once and then back to normal ...I know she means well but I don't know how to get her into a more EYFS way of thinking - and I'm only in there for a mat cover - I can't wait to finish tbh. I'm trying to listen as well as demand, I was a TA before and know how difficult it can be getting used to a new teacher. I am probably going to bed in a moment but it's churning around in my mind so any suggestions would be great. I've already tackled a couple of practical issues. I think the main thing is that she has to accept my authority, and I doubt that is going to happen any time soon. We are due the big o too.

auntevil Tue 20-Nov-12 23:36:42

Has your LEA got any training courses for the new EYFS curriculum that you can send her on - in the interests of keeping her up to date with the changes? She might be more compliant if she realises that it is not just you that wants a change in her outlook?

blackcoffee Wed 21-Nov-12 13:29:05

Good idea, I have suggested some courses and waiting for a response.
I feel very isolated in the school and very unhappy. The only two things that keep me going are the children and the fact that it is temporary.

auntevil Wed 21-Nov-12 17:26:02

I can kind of understand not getting support from SLT as most of their focus is on NC - and not EYFS. I'm not saying that they haven't read and inwardly digested the new curriculum biscuit - but they haven't put it into practise. It was probably a long while since the HT worked (if ever) in EYFS, and probably doesn't realise the implications of an obstructive TA.

mrz Wed 21-Nov-12 17:50:38

Are these nursery or reception children?

blackcoffee Wed 21-Nov-12 19:44:52

both mrz - mixed class

blackcoffee Wed 21-Nov-12 19:46:13

and yy that should have been practice
has been v v bad day!

blackcoffee Wed 21-Nov-12 19:47:16

aunt evil I don't think she does!

Welovecouscous Wed 21-Nov-12 19:51:20

How sad for the children. I think when you finish your mat cover it should be properly raised with the appropriate senior person as an issue

blackcoffee Wed 21-Nov-12 19:58:25

what should I do in the meantime?
took them out for a walk today of all days, it bucketed
nothing but moans and misery from ta who had to change wet children - really impatient with children and obviously not happy saying very loudly we shouldn't go out when it is like this
OK it was a horrible day and maybe I'd have stayed in but I am keen to push outdoor learning in a school where it's not really happening - ta made the whole day really terrible, she has known lots of parents for ages and they were all hmm about going
other younger ta, not one I usually work with was really supportive and said it's only a bit of rain children had a good time etc
I explained to HT why I decided to go and she said she'd back me to parents but tbh I think she thinks I'm mad as a box of frogs
I'm used to forest school etc

blackcoffee Wed 21-Nov-12 22:14:32

anyone ideas?

auntevil Wed 21-Nov-12 22:26:50

My SIL is an NQT covering maternity, and she asked the HT for a different TA as she did not find her supportive - she got her way.
Realistically, she sounds as if she is very set in her ways.
If it's any consolation, we have a classroom with open access to the garden and there were tons of children who played out in the wind and rain through choice. We all joined in pretending to get blown away. They loved watching any remaining leaves getting blown off the trees. They also learnt that it is not practical to sweep up leaves when it is blowing a gale grin
So if you are as mad as a box of frogs, jump to a different lily pad when you have finished covering. There are many different ponds to try.

blackcoffee Wed 21-Nov-12 22:36:50

thanks for your kindness auntevil, your school sounds a dream
ours could be too .... if only
I'd happily swap TAs but noone wants her grin she works with N mainly

auntevil Wed 21-Nov-12 22:39:35

Just remember, no school is perfect grin

blackcoffee Wed 21-Nov-12 23:02:19

Do you want her, aunt evil? grin she could come and grumble about your leaves

auntevil Wed 21-Nov-12 23:04:54

1 word blackcoffee - NO! grin

CindySherman Wed 21-Nov-12 23:08:49

You took them for an outdoor class today? shock

blackcoffee Wed 21-Nov-12 23:09:33

yup - a long walk to a very muddy field

auntevil Wed 21-Nov-12 23:12:13

A lot depends on where you are in the country.
Ours were wrapped up warm, welly boots if they didn't have their own suitable footwear.
The outside environment is always open for learning.
It would be a sad day in the UK if we only went out in good weather grin

CindySherman Wed 21-Nov-12 23:15:55

Wow it is going to be quite nice tomorrow. Today was absolutely torrential. What a day to choose to do that with such little ones.

HalfSpamHalfBrisket Wed 21-Nov-12 23:20:15

Cindy - They neither melt nor rust - outside is great fun. <Gets waterproofs ready for tomorrow's forest school sessions>

LackaDAISYcal Wed 21-Nov-12 23:21:36

Ours are outdoors in all weather too. school supply waterproof suits and they have free access to the outdoor space all day.

tomorrow is woodland school day, where they will schlep through the rain and build dens. They will love it. unfortunately <coughs> I can't help out as I'm at college learning to be a TA!

sorry that's probably not helpful op, and I don't really have any advice, other than suggest courses. or could you arrange a visit to a local school who has fully embraced EYFS? our school is very proud if their set up, modelled on some Italian system and show groups round all the time. maybe your TA would benefit from seeing how others do it?

LackaDAISYcal Wed 21-Nov-12 23:26:10

Cindy, outside is good! My DS comes home shattered, but happy, and has such a lot to talk about. They even have fires and toast bread and marshmallows! And I think ours are healthier for being outdoors all the time. There seems to be less snottiness all round!

CindySherman Wed 21-Nov-12 23:29:47

Do you think ? I honestly would think they would all be ill
at the end of an outdoor class on a day like today. In Kent it was horrendous. I do see the fun of being out on a sunny dry day in spring, but November ?! - poor things!

blackcoffee Wed 21-Nov-12 23:30:27

Reggio Emilio? yes I think a look at a forest school would be great
To be honest it wasn't the greatest day for a walk, given that it's not an outdoorsy kind of school. I accept that. We plan these things ahead of time, given that we invite parents. And so I went for it.

blackcoffee Wed 21-Nov-12 23:32:27

it's actually an important part of the EY curriculum. I am a couch potato by nature but am embracing the outdoors, as good provision.

clattypatty Wed 21-Nov-12 23:34:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

lisad123 Wed 21-Nov-12 23:38:29

Lol poor things! You do know the catching cold from getting wet is a wife's tale right?
I walked dd home from school in the rain, she loves rain, splashing the noise of the wind. I wish so many people would get past the "you only learn sat at a desk in the classroom".

Op I'm sorry you have TA from hell, I had a colleague like this once, sadly I left as management refused to deal with her and she made my life hell (not teacher or TA). It hard to change some people and you need to discuss it with the head. Point all the things the children aren't learning by her refusal to follow your lead.

blackcoffee Wed 21-Nov-12 23:40:16

We have really limited time to sit down together as she arrives a short while before the children and is often in the classroom late, or chatting. We have a face to face meeting once a fortnight which is all we can grab together, I am asking for cover to have it weekly. I regularly ask for views and things the TAs would like to include in the plans - I used to TA and I know how rubbish being excluded can make you feel. They usually wait until the plan's on the wall and then say, oh but what about x or y, or when I am not there just do what they feel like anyway. The atmosphere in the room is not great. I feel she is waiting for me to trip up and relishing it every time I do.

blackcoffee Wed 21-Nov-12 23:42:24

that was to clatty btw
lisa that's great to hear! about the rain I mean, not your colleague. Realistically, this lady is going to be there longer than I am. SLT know because I am not the first one in this situation.

clattypatty Wed 21-Nov-12 23:46:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HSMM Wed 21-Nov-12 23:47:09

Took my 3 yr olds for a walk in the rain the other day and one of them was NOT impressed. When I repeated some of his phrases to his dad, he laughed and said his son had evidently been listening to his mother being caught out by rain. They have great fun splashing in puddles and learning sensory stuff about cold and wet, as well as learning how to deal with it.

No ideas for your TA, apart from maybe buying her some cocoa to help her cope?

blackcoffee Thu 22-Nov-12 00:01:33

thanks everyone - is good to hear that others 'do' rain
as for advice, this morning's convo went - secretary: are you still going on walk? me: what do you think mrs so and so? mrs so and so: it's your decision
me: right then, let's go!
on having to change wet children (they had waterproofs but not the trouser part) - very loudly and crossly in front of other adults 'blackcoffee I don't think we should be outdoors in weather like this' huffing and puffing
no child was upset, but it did create extra work and hassle for the adults
It's not really about the weather, though. It's about the whole situation in the class and how to manage it. The meetings def help, because we can all share views.

PopMusicShoobyDoobyDoA Thu 22-Nov-12 00:20:12

First of all, well done on being an nqt. It's not easy doing a teacher training course, let alone doing it with a household to manage (I'm basing that on you being on mumsnet).

Sorry to hear that your TA is being difficult. I'm still pondering on how to get around the PPA issue, but in terms of her not being there for teacher input etc I think it's time to reset the boundaries. This is what I would do. I'm sure you let her know what is being taught etc, I would also tell her what she needs to be doing while you are doing teaching. Eg supporting EAL children, SEN children etc. I would be really clear about this, and even give her a list of questions on a post it note to ask at appropriate times during the input (usually partner talk time) and also the kind of support she will be providing eg behaviour management, rehearsing a sentence, listening skills or speaking in sentences etc. If she looks like she is not going to comply at the start of input, you would say "Mrs X, I need you to support Ryan, Joshua and Fatima, thank you" and turn away and say "Ryan, Joshua and Fatima go and sit by Mrs X." If she makes an excuse, just tell she can do that later as these children are waiting for her. During input, ask one of the children a question that she should have asked, and if they are struggling, can Mrs X clarify what they said? (Sometimes children forget don't they.)

Does that make sense? You are basically being very explicit of your expectations (just like with the children!). It sounds like she is taking advantage of your inexperience as a teacher and she is getting away with it because you are letting her. You have assert yourself. I know it's hard and she's likely to bitch and moan but guess what, she is anyway. It doesn't matter as long as you pass your NQT, and there's the added bonus that it is better for the children. grin

FWIW, I was a mature NQT with a baby only a few short years ago and I'm on maternity leave cover too but the difference is I love my TA smile.

blackcoffee Thu 22-Nov-12 06:50:49

thanks I get what you are saying pop, although remember these are 3-5 year olds. I have asked her to sit on carpet with them and have given her named children, I do all this. She seems to have a problem sitting on floor - lots of TAs do - she is older. But yes I do direct her to children and tell them to sit with her. I like your advice to be very explicit. I expect by now that she would have 'got' what I want - TA I had yesterday on a one off got it straight away. A much more experienced teacher also had the same experience as I am. I also like your comment she's gonna bitch anyway. I will imagine her as a grumpy child - I've tried the soft approach now I'm going to have to go for boundaries.
a TA you love sounds wonderful
yes I have a household but that's not an issue, I find the time (somehow)

PopMusicShoobyDoobyDoA Thu 22-Nov-12 07:40:09

Yes, treat her like a petulant teenager grin. Oh she gets you, she just chooses to be difficult about it. Sorry, I'd forgotten that you teach a mix class.

She can still sit on a chair and be involved as all the TAs in nursery and reception at the school I work at sit on chairs.

Good luck. Let us know how you get on.

blackcoffee Thu 22-Nov-12 18:40:39

I dunno what happened overnight but she was a changed woman today! pro-active, helpful - trying her best. It's not going to be easy but there was such a lovely atmosphere in the class! And a lovely parent approached me to say she supported me fully in the outdoorsy stuff. I was dreading going to work but it has been a really really good day. The children all wrote about their trip and made maps, literacy and maths - really fab learning coming out of there, everyone absorbed in the experience. Woohoo this is teaching! I do realise it could well be a bit of a blip but nope, there was no more grumpy. Bossy, yes, but no grumpy! I don't love her yet but I don't dread her. Auntevil she even took the children out to play with the leaves (and didn't mention the mud).

PopMusicShoobyDoobyDoA Thu 22-Nov-12 20:34:51

Maybe she read this thread!

Well, anyway enjoy the change and long may it continue.

auntevil Thu 22-Nov-12 20:49:20

grin result - lets hope it is for good smile

Rudolphstolemycarrots Sat 24-Nov-12 13:23:01

write her a weekly/daily timetable. get it in writing so that she can remember

8.40 - welcolme kids
9.00 - sit on carpet with children - modeling the behavior expected
9.30 go through phonics sounds only (phoneme not grapheme - give examples to explain)

Rudolphstolemycarrots Sat 24-Nov-12 13:24:03

Just keep banging on and repeat yourself at every moment 'Ta please can you sit on the carpet now'' x 100

blackcoffee Sat 24-Nov-12 14:31:33

rudolph my weekly plan says things like 'check bookbags' 'tidy' on it! you're right though. Persist ...the rest of the week was much, much better. Am praising the positives (stickers?! wink) am hoping it is onwards and upwards

Welovecouscous Sat 24-Nov-12 14:36:26

Sounds like you have stamped your authority on the situation - good for you smile

blackcoffee Sat 24-Nov-12 14:42:55

thanks smile
I am more of a team person than a manager tbh, being assertive doesn't come easily to me. The advice and support on this thread has been amazing, thanks everyone.

Rudolphstolemycarrots Mon 26-Nov-12 00:13:39

Great news!

blackcoffee Wed 05-Dec-12 20:23:35

blooming awful day. Second TA off, and an excellent supply. So I have the original, difficult one and a fab, keen intelligent one.
Parents in today, I ask new TA to bring them through, as requested by HT, original TA contradicts and tells her not to as they were still mixing paint. She is no help all morning, won't tidy up when asked, and at the end disappears leaving me and new TA to cope with lunchtime - some v upset dc whose parents had just left, and new TA not knowing parents of children going home.
She reappears smiling as there are about 5 dc wailing their eyes out. I ask her v crossly where have you been? she gets upset, HT has her in, she complains, now I am in a meeting with them both to sort out issues. I am basically in the doghouse for hurting her feelings. I have put my case, HT supportive to it, but by now I feel totally demoralised and just want to leave, basically, and never go back.
I am supposed to write down my non negotiables. Like support on the carpet, being on time, tidying up. Basic stuff. I am trying to believe it will work out but I feel really demoralised and totally shit about my job and the school, tbh. I just want out!

Christmaselephantshavewrinkles Wed 05-Dec-12 20:32:34

Give her a list as long s your arm of tnngs she needs to do.. Sharpening all the pencils, checking all the felt pens, covering the display etc.

blackcoffee Wed 05-Dec-12 20:34:12

grin that really made me smile! maybe I should, you know!
will it get done? er, probably not ...

Christmaselephantshavewrinkles Thu 06-Dec-12 07:31:00

Am an LSA BTW but if she has no done the list and ticked off what you have said to do then she is no doing her job.

educator123 Thu 06-Dec-12 15:35:48

How big is the school, would there be any chance of a re shuffle? Do you have much longer left.

blackcoffee Thu 06-Dec-12 17:22:43

It's a tiny school and I have one more term to get through, though even one more day is beginning to seem too much to cope with. Since she has been to HT she is rude, interrupts, and leaves early. And I can't say a word. She has seen off a succession of teachers, I am not the first. I dread going to work tomorrow. The only supportive person is my NQT mentor who is being sidelined. The working relationship between us is, to be honest, now pretty much beyond repair.

blackcoffee Thu 06-Dec-12 17:23:27

she is not doing her job now, christmas. But no one dares tell her.

dikkertjedap Thu 06-Dec-12 21:09:16

Lisad - Actually no.

It was long thought that catching a cold from cold, wet weather was an old wife's tale until researchers found that there is actually truth in it.

If you are already developing a virus (you may not know this) which your immune system is fighting and then you get cold and wet, then your body will have to prioritise warming up above fighting the virus. This is currently believed to be the reason that people become ill after having become v. cold/wet.

Our body gives top priority to keeping sufficiently warm to the detriment of fighting viruses.

educator123 Thu 06-Dec-12 22:06:49

I was intrigued about the size of school as I've never come across nursery age and reception together? But have come across a school with reception and yr1& or 2 together.

blackcoffee Thu 06-Dec-12 22:23:05

well it makes more sense than mixing EYFS with NC - I've come across it before and it can work really well with a good team
am at wits' end for what to do next here, though

educator123 Thu 06-Dec-12 22:27:53

I feel for you, you sound like you are really keen to inspire the children. And rubbish if you haven't got the support.

Maybe seeing the HT again might be worth ago?

blackcoffee Thu 06-Dec-12 22:30:30

thanks so much, I will try it, it is worse than no support, she is actually quite rude
has v different manner with HT, however
I have asked for the thread to be taken off now, I have had some great advice and support, thanks so much

admission Fri 07-Dec-12 18:20:23

This is not your problem, the problem is really the head teacher. Firstly because they are not apparently prepared to sort out this TA and evading their management responsibilities and secondly because they have no comprehension of what is now necessary in EYFS.
When are Ofsted next due because what you describe is going to get them a gold star for going into special measures if they are not carrying out the EYFS curriculum.
As you now have no working relationship with this TA, I think you might as well tell the head teacher that you do not need her in your classroom, as she is more of a hindrance than a help. It might get her out of your hair or if the head teacher really is stupid it might get you an early finish to your supply cover at the school.

blackcoffee Sat 08-Dec-12 19:49:49

yes, special measures is on the cards. There have been lots of changes of SLT and no one has been prepared to tackle the issue, teachers have either let TA run class or gone long term sick. (this is not the only issue in the school btw)
I have a meeting with HT and TA next week where I am supposed to listen to TA's issues and produce a list of my own requirements - punctuality, politeness etc ... bit cynical about what this will achieve tbh
How likely is it I will be able to finish early without risking references etc? (my teaching in the school has been rated consistently good with os features both internally and externally)

ProphetOfDoom Sat 08-Dec-12 20:26:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

blackcoffee Sat 08-Dec-12 22:13:51

exactly - I am the one accountable for the classroom, so I have to manage it, and managing it is impossible at the moment. I do welcome ideas and suggestions ...
At the moment HT is aware of the position but fairly sympathetic to and reliant on TA who is long serving - for instance HT will ask TA directly about current registrations, while I am sitting in the same room, TA goes direct to HT to ask for time off to do other tasks, and I am told after it has been agreed even though on a recent occasion it was actually quite inconvenient as class had to be prepared for an event.
I am also on the back foot for having 'upset' the TA by asking her whereabouts!
I feel this actually needs a strong rather than a conciliatory management line and I don't have a great deal of confidence in the way it is being dealt with. I think any HT who wants to turn school around has to have a strong stomach.
Yes, I will need to talk to HT privately as well as in the meeting - which I am dreading.
The atmosphere is palpable - my very capable supply TA has picked up on it already and I'd be surprised if dc aren't aware at some level.

ProphetOfDoom Sat 08-Dec-12 23:18:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

blackcoffee Sat 08-Dec-12 23:41:54

I don't think it's because I'm NQT - I'm oldish and fairly assertive! other staff, yes - anyone she has worked with directly - the other teachers she 'saw off' were experienced! I've just spent the time off this thread writing a list for the meeting, two pages A4 and that's without mentioning sharpening the pencils grin.
There are literally no jobs in my area atm. Am hoping more come on at Xmas. It's a temporary contract so I'm lose-lose really - in the unlikely event I sort things out I'm gone in a term anyway, and everyone knows that. I'd chill out and go for the easy option if my conscience let me!

IndigoBelle Sun 09-Dec-12 08:00:24

Feel really sorry for you - and the kids. Sounds like a dreadful situation all round.

I'm not a teacher so haven't commented so far - but is there any way you can just ask for her to be reassigned and you have no TA for the last 2 weeks of term?

cornycarrotshack Sun 09-Dec-12 11:42:08

What an awful situation for you.

I think that she is bullying you, albeit very subtly - refusing to follow your instruction, purposely undermining you by interrupting the lessons and contradicting you in front of the children, going behind your back to the HT.
Her behaviour is ultimately resulting in your feeling that you can't face going in.

Are you in a union? They may be able to provide some advice about how to approach this with the Head.

blackcoffee Sun 09-Dec-12 12:01:37

thanks for all the advice and support
indigo you always have sensible things to say - in any case it's no so much a teaching issue as a people issue here, I feel. In many other businesses I imagine it would have been cracked down on a lot sooner. I can't ask for her to be reassigned because we need X adults for a correct ratio and she is one of the few in-house TAs with the necessary qualification.
I am a union member but have found them very slow getting back to me with advice in the past - I looked at their online faqs about bullying and while I certainly have a few of the symptoms that they suggest are associated with bullying I feel it's all a bit too low key and minor to make a formal complaint until in-house procedures have been attempted.
The meeting will not be tomorrow - do you think I should see HT before we all meet together and tell her just how bad it is? she thinks I am coping - I am, but it's not the classroom it could be.

IndigoBelle Sun 09-Dec-12 12:47:01

Def get in a private meeting with the HT before the official one!

You (unfortunately) have to get much better at politics and 'playing the system' - and 'premeetings' are certainly part if that.

blackcoffee Sun 09-Dec-12 12:58:29

yes, indeed - am crp at politics, always have been
knew as soon as TA got in first I was on back foot - 'she didn't come to me but she was obvs v upset' .. maybe I should take my hanky! grin I really really can't be doing with all the passive aggressive manipulative silliness that happens in the adult world of work!
so, go on, Machaevelli - whaddoo I say .. and how?!

cornycarrotshack Sun 09-Dec-12 13:40:35

state exactly what she is doing that is to the detriment of the children's learning and prevents you from doing your job to the best of your ability

bring up the points about Ofsted already mentioned in the thread

use objective language

write it down - hand the Head a copy

if the Head refers to her being 'very upset' about you asking her where she was, refer to your written statement which explains the consequences of her going AWOL for you and the children when she should have been assisting you with the class

IndigoBelle Sun 09-Dec-12 14:15:12

I agree with writing out what you want to say (probably in bullet points) and leaving a copy with the HT.

And keeping it all factual not emotional

And linking every point with how it is detrimental to the kids learning / ofsted / EYFS goals.

And don't get drawn into if the TA is or isn't upset. That is absolutely not your concern. Your concern is teaching the children what they need to know.

So don't let the HT sidetrack you. Make it all about how the kids aren't learning and ofsted will be upset.

blackcoffee Sun 09-Dec-12 14:50:33

thanks so much, writing it out has really helped a lot.
really appreciate all the advice.

IndigoBelle Mon 10-Dec-12 18:45:21

How did today go?

blackcoffee Mon 10-Dec-12 19:30:21

I have listed my concerns and HT is going to mull them over. Looking a bit more optimistic, thanks!

ProphetOfDoom Mon 10-Dec-12 19:49:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

blackcoffee Mon 10-Dec-12 22:45:37

not with TA yet. Tentative, but more positive! I have colleagues/friends who have experienced similar, it does seem surprisingly common! has been a real eye opener.

ProphetOfDoom Tue 11-Dec-12 20:10:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

blackcoffee Tue 11-Dec-12 22:13:11

thanks so much. Really appreciate the support. I hope I can give you a happy update in 2013!

blackcoffee Thu 10-Jan-13 19:11:28

we had the meeting
HT showed me her agenda beforehand which included the fact teacher was line manager
meeting - TAs raised all their gripes - want more time to resource, have too much to do - want more time leading teaching but not to plan for this, one wants to read with children (I pulled her from this because it wasn't going well). There is obviously a lot of resentment about how I run the class.
They have got all they asked for. I got extra planning. No mention of the line management issue. I really like the HT and I trust her motives but I feel so, so demoralised.

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