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dreading going back to school next week

(42 Posts)
mycatoscar Mon 29-Aug-11 05:57:08

I am a teacher and dreading going back to school because of my TA. I am putting this here because I am hoping some other teachers and of course all you assertive sensible mnetters might have some advice for me! I dont want to post this on a teaching forum because I am concerned someone from school may see it.

I have a TA in my class who constantly questions my decisions about teaching, planning and discipline - sometimes in front of the children. She frequently goes AWOL during the school day to do personal errands and then acts like thats okay. She takes forever to complete a simple task and frequently ignores guidelines I have set for group activities etc.

I dont feel she respects me as the class teacher or as a professional and I also feel I have been very stupid and allowed this to become the norm - I am not a naturally assertive or confident person. But I have realised that this lady is the reason I am dreading going back to work (to the job that I love, in a school where I am otherwise happy).

I have tried talking to other teachers at school but none of them really seem to have a problem with her, or they just dont really offer advice. I have spoken to our SENCO and the deputy head who are the TA's line managers and they have basically skirted round the issue and said that I have left it too long to do anything. I would go to the head and ask advice but that seems like admitting massive failure to me.

I will not let this woman make me feel miserable, I just need to grow some assertiveness in the next 3 days! Any advice very gratefully recieved smile

mnistooaddictive Mon 29-Aug-11 06:01:50

I think you need to be very clear with her what you are expecting her to do.
Keep detailed records of what she does e.g 4th September disappeared from 11.15-12.00 etc.
If she ever questions you in front of the class tell her you will discuss it later. If she disappears ask her where she was. if you have records then at half term take them to headteacher and ask then to do something, if they refuse, go to your union.

mycatoscar Mon 29-Aug-11 06:13:09

thank you mnistooaddictive, very good advice

The trouble is when she is questioning me about something in front of the children it is usually about something I have just asked her to do "dont you think I should do it like this?" or "is that really a good idea" etc etc, so it does need tackling right there and she is fully prepared to have an argument with me infront of the children.

Also I am scared that if I complain about her she will bring basically do the same thing back, and make up/report things I have done which she thinks are unprofessional or questionable. She is a bitch and enjoys making other people feel small, I have seen her do it to other people.

mycatoscar Mon 29-Aug-11 06:15:46

and re the dissapearing, its rarely for more than 10 minutes, its things like she will go along with the children to the office with the register (even though I have repeatedly said they can go on their own) and they will come back within 30 seconds but she'll be gone another 10 minutes and it will turn out she has been filling in a form for her own son to attend a club or something similar.

She is often late in the mornings too with the excuse that she overslept, couldnt get the children up and out the door etc etc

mycatoscar Mon 29-Aug-11 06:21:24

if and when I question her she basically makes me feel I am being very petty or that she has done nothing wrong in the first place sad

mnistooaddictive Mon 29-Aug-11 06:23:42

First day back, you have a new rule, she goes not question you in front of children. If she does it, you say this is not appropriate conversation to have now and walk off. Make sure she gas your lesson plans and highlight exactly what you want her to do.
Keep the diary, record everything. Do t worry about her responding . You need to ask for her to be swooped. Demand support.

mycatoscar Mon 29-Aug-11 06:26:34

I know you are right, I just need to grow some balls LOL - hope i can pull this off.

I need to practise saying "no I am happy with the way I planned it thank you" "No, they can go on their own" "will you please be back from the library by 9.45" etc etc

mycatoscar Mon 29-Aug-11 06:28:08

Another problem is that because she is late, she basically hasnt read my lesson plans before the day starts. If I email them to her she wont read them because she doesnt work past 3.15 or in lunch hours!

mycatoscar Mon 29-Aug-11 06:28:46

sorry this is turning into a right rant now angry and blush

timetoask Mon 29-Aug-11 06:40:02

Being late is terrible, shouldn't she arrive some minutes early to discuss your plan of the day before the children arrive? If she starts arguing in front of kids, I would tell her "if you start arriving on time in the mornings we will be able to discuss the plan and I will be happy to listen to your suggestions"

mycatoscar Mon 29-Aug-11 06:42:41

she isnt paid until the same time as the children start so she will not ever do anything work related even if she is there early for some reason. She walks in when the children do or late on most mornings.

mycatoscar Mon 29-Aug-11 06:44:42

you are right though timetoask - if she was willing to give up a few minutes of her own time then I would be happy to listen to suggestions but rushing in late and then trying to get me to change my plans once the day has started just pisses me off to be honest, it makes the day all out of kilter and not run smoothly - and I am a stickler for following a routine, for the childrens sake

Julesnobrain Mon 29-Aug-11 07:12:04

agree with mnistooaddictive. Keep a small note book in you bag in class and write in it almost immediately anything occurs or you will be too busy and forget. Re the register say X as you know helping children to gain a sense of independence is important, I want them to go on their own. That way if she does then go you can mark in your book she has ignore a direct instruction.

Re questioning methods stick to first query of the day - no I am happy with the way I planned it thank you.

The second time she questions say X. no I am happy with the way I planned it thank you, also this is the second time today you have questioned how we should do activities please do this is private.

If she then asks you a third time in the day in front of the the children you can then answer no I am happy with the way I planned it thank you. BUT write in your book she disregarded a direct request

Can you see where I am going with this?.

You must do this because of your comment Also I am scared that if I complain about her she will bring basically do the same thing back, and make up/report things I have done which she thinks are unprofessional or questionable. She is a bitch and enjoys making other people feel small, I have seen her do it to other people

It sounds that part of your stress is not only will she not do what is told but that subconsciously you feel threaten she will end up costing you your job. That is intolerable and thus writing it down (she must not see) is a form of self protection.

Also may I advise write notes to yourself on email re conversations with others regarding this issue. EG. note to self, had conversation with A manager but they were unsupportive, feel like ABC and have decided to do DEF to try and rectify situation then send it to yourself. If this goes further you can use it to help support this was the way I felt on X date and I can show it because I wrote an email which has been date / time stamped as my own record.

Finally IT IS NOT TOO LATE :-) after a couple of weeks of doing this go to headmistress and your union and ask for support. Undermining you constantly in the way she does is a form of bullying.

Good luck

2BoysTooLoud Mon 29-Aug-11 07:14:06

It doesn't sound like you are getting enough support from your school. [Not a teacher so don't know system]. Do you have a supervisor type person? They should be listening to you surely. This 'you have left it too late business' sounds out of order.
TA sounds a bit of a bully who is having a battle for power with you. Is she a long standing TA?
Advice here about recording everything sounds great.
Does she have a supervisor? She sounds like she needs reminding what her role is!!
Good luck.

mycatoscar Mon 29-Aug-11 07:17:48

wow thank you jules it DOES feel like bullying, but I have spent so long with people telling me I am oversensitive etc etc I thought maybe I was simply overthinking it.

She is a bitch and I really dont need or particuarly want her to like me, I just want her to do what I ask, and assist me like she should be doing.

mycatoscar Mon 29-Aug-11 07:22:20

2boys yes she is a long standing TA and has children at the school. She basically thinks she owns the place!

Yes she has a supervior/line manager, it is either the SENCO or deputy head, both of whom I have spoken to and both have come out with the line that I have left it too long like it is, and I probably cant change it.

I would really like it is someone who is her superior would sit all the TA's down and go through general expectations, eg turning up on time, reading plans in advance, following instructions, keeping personal errands for break times etc.

Thank you all for the advice, I think the keeping a record will be a good idea.

Robotindisguise Mon 29-Aug-11 07:25:48

I think your deputy head is disgraceful for saying it's too late to do anything about it. Of course it isn't! I do think in that case you should see the head. You'll feel better for it. It isn't an admission of failure, it's dealing with the situation.

You do need help being more assertive - there are some good self help books. You are being bullied.

It doesn't actually matter what she thinks of you professionally. I've been in a similar situation where someone on my team went for my job, I got it and they didn't, and they were unbearable (and started shagging the boss so I had no-one to address it but that's a whole other story). You're worried about her opinion and that gives her a hold over you. You need to try to let that go.

When you see the head, I would concentrate on the lateness, the going awol and the questioning your decisions in front of the class. Does she have to be your TA forever and a day?

I would also (if you can bear it) arrange a chat with her at the end of the first day back (tell her that when she arrives) in which you say you need her there ahead of the day to discuss the lesson plan, you need to know where she is, and regardless of what she thinks of your decisions, the time to discuss them is in private, either on lunch, on the next break or after school. In front of the children is unprofessional.

Robotindisguise Mon 29-Aug-11 07:26:43

The general expectations idea is a good one - why can't they do that?

Have you a union rep?

Robotindisguise Mon 29-Aug-11 07:27:20

When her line manager says it's too late to change it, you should tell them that's ridiculous. Because it is. Totally ridiculous.

timetoask Mon 29-Aug-11 07:33:37

If her line managers are not taking this seriously, then you should talk to YOUR line manager (I guess the head teacher?) after a few weeks of taking these notes as other posters suggest.
She sounds very unprofessional to me. How many years experience does she have? She sounds overconfident.

An idea: If she is only meant to arrive at the same time as the children, then as soon as she arrives, take her to your desk (without children) discuss the plan between the two of you. Then address the children? It should only take 5 minutes? In my son's school I always see the teacher and TA sitting together at the desk without the children talking early morning.

NorksAreMessy Mon 29-Aug-11 07:35:11

Perhaps a meeting with her BEFORE you are rushed and overwhelmed with children might help. I know, it will be hard.

Try not to say in the meeting 'you always...' or 'I don't like it when... '.
Rather start with 'right, new school year. I would like you to do XYZ. I would like you to read XYZ. I expect you to. I would like you to wait until we are alone to discuss plans. Etc etc etc'
She might say 'but...'
Whereupon you say 'i have thought about this carefully' and repeat what you just said
And write it down.

You should be getting help from your line manager on this, especially if you are feeling stressed.

Does the TA have a job desciption. That might help you, if there are areas where she is not sticking to the letter of her job.

Does your union have some advice? I am sure you are not the only teacher with a difficult TA.

Finally, rise above it. You are the boss in that classroom, stick to what you want, do it your way, challenge every transgression. This is not a toddler we are talking about here, this is a grown woman taking the piss.

As previouslyonlost would say, what you need now is some big shiny balls!

DumSpiroSpero Mon 29-Aug-11 07:41:43

...she isnt paid until the same time as the children start so she will not ever do anything work related even if she is there early for some reason.

Bloody hell shock! I'm a school secretary and I put in hours of my own time because it's for the kids, the extra stuff our teaching and caring staff put in I wouldn't even attempt to calculate.

She sounds highly unprofessional and frankly like she's in the wrong job, purely for sake of convenience as she has school age kids, if she's so unwilling to put in any extra effort.

You are totally within your rights and have several excellent reasons to pursue this. No new advice but second the suggestions of other posters to have a chat at the beginning of term about expectations and keep a diary of what's going on, then review it in a few weeks/half term.

Good luck - hope you manage to get it sorted.

ripstheirthroatoutliveupstairs Mon 29-Aug-11 07:42:23

Union rep, that's where I'd be going seeing how the DH and SENCO are being spectacularly unhelpful.
I think I'd find it really hard to bite my tongue TBH, you are the professional who has done the training, she is there to assist you.
Be strong and good luck.

mycatoscar Mon 29-Aug-11 08:21:19

thanks for all the advice mnetters

the problem with speaking to her is that she arrives with the children (and it is a class of very young children so we cant just chat in a corner, they require supervision from the minute they walk in) and she basically walks off at break times and lunch times and immediately after school to do her own thing.

I believe she is there doing the job because it fits in with school hours and gives her a power trip! She wont leave until her youngest does and that's a few years off yet for various reasons, it is unlikely she will be moved classes. She is not a true team player and seems to take pleasure in putting others down and doing only the bare minimum unless it suits her, she is very clever about the way she does things for appearances sake. I suspect she finds working in my class with young children quite boring but tough, thats not my fault!

I am in a union but there isnt rep at school so I feel I should exhaust every avenue at school first, so firm instructions and much repetition of "no thankyou, I am happy with what I have planned" and "please come straight back" and "no please dont do that", and will note down anything she does which people have suggested. Then it is to the head I guess.

whatcanbemynewname Mon 29-Aug-11 08:26:12

I think what other people are saying is true, am an LSA by the way, and although naturally I may not always agree with the teacher I will always back her and do as she asks. I will after the lesson then ask about why she had done x or y.

Day 1 tell her that you need to talk to her at the end of the school day or at lunch. Then you need to set new ground rules but be careful not to be all negative and on her. It would be easy to be well you don't do this or that but it will not help the situation. Explain to her what isexpected of her. Be friendly but firm. It may be better to write a list and go through it with her.

If she is openly questioning you then record this with time and date, what happened and what you said in reply. Have some quick reponses ready.

If she is late then record the time she gets in down over half a term to show that it is not you and her.
Also does she work from 9?, Some TAs work from say 9:30-3:30 to save money so do check this.

If she goes AWOL then record how long she has been and where she has said she has been. If you think about it 10 mins a day is 50 mins a week where she is not working when she sould be.

If things don't change go to the head at HT at half term. Then your union.

Also not all TAs are this bad.

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