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NQT needs help

(31 Posts)
Jenny23000 Sat 10-Nov-12 18:00:40


This is my first post, but thought I would have a go as not sure who to talk to. I am an NQt but only employed for 1 term. I had a gut feeling that this was not the school for me, but I ignored it as it was so difficult to get a job. Now I am really regreting that decision.

I am really unhappy at school, but thought that it was best to grit my teeth and get on with, after all it is only until December. I have a challenging class, but I don't think that that is the problem. I am finding it really difficult to work with my TA. I get the distinct impression that my TA hates me. It has now become so difficult to work with my TA that I do not want to even have a conversation with them, and am waiting for the criticism or look on their face whenever I am teaching. This has made me so nervous that I don't feel I am teaching to the standard I taught at on placement and I hate the negative tense environment, it is making me miserable.

Don't get me wrong I am not blaming my TA for my own mistakes as a teacher. I am aware that I need to improve in areas to meet the core standards. It's just that I am so miserable at the thought of going into school and working with my TA that I don't have the enthusiasm to carry on. I don't even want to pick my work up anymore as it just makes me want to cry at the thought of going into shcool.

I have read lots of posts and comments about how bad it will look and that I will not get another job if I try to get early release from my contract. I feel trapped as I think it has now got to the stage where I am suffering from depression. I don't see how I can possibly make it until christams, because the thought of going in for one more day makes me feel sick and want to cry. I don't want to end up taking weeks off with illness, as that also will put off any prospective employers.

One of the things that has got me through this far is not wanting to let people down and wanting to prove myself before I go. But I am so unhappy now that I don't seem to care and passing the term does not seem important, I am just counting down the days. I have no motivation anymore and don't see how I can improve (this is usually one of my strengths, as I have always taken constructive criticism and imporved week on week when on placement) as I don't want to put the work in anymore, just thinking about the work makes me want to cry. I have got to the stage where I no longer come home and get straight on with my work, but put it off as long as possible and then end up working until 1 am, because I just want to forget about school and stop feeling like crying.

For the sake of my mental wellbeing the best thing would be to get out early and try some supply work, to see if I even want teach anymore, to get my confidence back and to develop my skills and resources.

I also think that I could then apply for positons through an agency where I can get to know the school first and work with the age group I trained with, and felt happy with. However, if I try to quit will I ever get another job? I think I owe it to myself to give it one last try with the age group I have always loved, before I decide that it is not for me. After all I had some good experiences on placements and in previous roles in schools. I am scared that I might throw my career away because of one school that is not for me. I really don't know what to do please help.

QuickLookBusy Sat 10-Nov-12 18:11:54

Oh you poor thing. I don't have any specific advice as I'm not experienced in this area. But I would say is there anyone you can talk to at the school about your worries? Do you have a mentor? There should be someone who can help you if you're struggling.

I do think it would be such a shame if you left. There are only about 5 weeks left? If you could just keep going I think you'd feel you'd achieved something and it will be fantastic for your CV.

Regarding the TA, I would just try to be polite and then not worry about her opinions, or what you think she is thinking. Just be bright and breezy with her and concentrate on the children rather than her.

ipotty Sat 10-Nov-12 18:26:54

Oh Jenny don't give up. Try and hang on in there for 5 weeks. You can do supply work afterwards. My NQT year was one of the hardest of my life. It sounds to me as if you have not been given the support from the school that you should have. Do you have a mentor? Have you spoken to them about how you're feeling? I bet the TA doesn't hate you at all. She's probably just not very smiley and friendly and your own feelings are making her seem worse. You loved teaching before and will again I'm sure. It is very difficult to take on a class for just a term especially as an NQT. <hugs>

learnandsay Sat 10-Nov-12 18:27:04

Sorry to hear about your troubles. When you get home each night spoil thanks yourself, have a bath with bubbles and a glass of champagne (well, sparkling wine.) Plan a nice Christmas for when it's over. wine

If this is the way you feel about it you might not be in the best position to discuss it. But hate is a very strong word. My wildest guess might be that the TA has had experience with other teachers in the same class and maybe her job is a bit harder now because you haven't got hold of the ropes yet. Or you are maybe imagining a part of it. You speak of criticism I find it hard to imagine a TA criticising a teacher, surely that's not her role. And what is the look on her face? If TA is obstructing you you can ask her to take some children into the coat area to read or outside. Or maybe ask for her to be removed altogether or swapped.

In the future you may want to invest in some training about how to handle difficult relationships because in your job you are going to get others, nasty parents, a bolshy headmistress, a bolshy chair of governors the list is endless. I'm sure if you make it past this you'll look back on an unhappy TA as the least of your career difficulties. If this was me I'd ask the woman what her problem was. But then I don't mind conflict. You're probably feeling far too battered and bruised to want to hear advice like this at a time like this but I really do think you're going to have to develop a much thicker skin if you're going to survive.

I wish you the best of luck. brew

Ruprekt Sat 10-Nov-12 18:32:53

Is there ANY reason why the TA would hate you? confused

Am sure she does not hate you at all. She might just be a bit stony faced.

Stand up to her.

You are the teacher and in charge of the class. If you are uncomfortable with her being in the room with you then send her out to do reading or photo copying.

There is enough stress as an NQT and working in school without this.


Do you have a mentor in school you could speak to or the team leader?

ipotty Sat 10-Nov-12 18:33:55

Just had another thought! Do you need the TA in your classroom all the time or can you give her a small group to take out and work with in a different area? At least she wouldn't be there all the time whilst you're teaching. And it may be that your NQT mentor could give you a heads up about her too. Perhaps she has a reputation for being unfriendly? Or maybe the mentor could arrange a meeting and enlist the TAs support. It's in all their interests that you stay you know.

HumphreyCobbler Sat 10-Nov-12 18:37:23

Also, after you have recharged your batteries, I would take back control. Imagine you are planning for your final assessment in each lesson this week and make sure you are doing your absolute best.

I guarantee you will feel so much more positive about your situation when you feel in control again. You can do this. Good luck.

Jenny23000 Sat 10-Nov-12 18:49:24


thank you for your advice. I didn't really go into too much detail about my TA before, but she is good at her job and very experienced in the class and the school. It does also seem from comments from someone else that worked with my TA, that she can be a bit set in her ways. The problem is she has intrreupted lessons when I'm talking to the children to tell me that I have got something wrong, and tried to interrupt and talk over me to the children on occassion. I have always been polite and friendly but feel that my TA can be rude in her remarks. I am trying to work on behaviour management with the children and this does not help. On two occassions I have passed when she has been speaking in hushed tones and get the distinct impression that she is talking about me - although that could be because I am feeling so low and sensitive.

I have worked with lots of people and other TA's and always had good relationships. I have also worked with poeple where who are difficult to work with and heve made it work. I think that if I was more confident in my role I would be able to handle the TA better, but because I am still learning in my first teaching post, and my TA is very experienced and valued, I don't feel that confident and less so each day I work there. Last week my TA corrected me over something I was right with, but I then doubted myself becasue my confidence is so low. I am so miserable working with my TA and it is doing so much damage to my confidence I just don't know what to do.

Jenny23000 Sat 10-Nov-12 18:52:05

Also forgot to mention I do send my mentor out with the children sometimes, but due to the way everything is run in the school I would be marked down in my observations if I did it too often.

ipotty Sat 10-Nov-12 18:56:25

I just think it would be such a shame to give up a career you love. This school does not sound right for you and you have lots of time to find another school.
I know it must be very hard to try to find the motivation to address this TA problem when you're only there for a few more weeks. Perhaps she would be less critical if she understood how you felt and if you enlisted her support?

Funnylittleturkishdelight Sat 10-Nov-12 18:58:22

I think you can totally do this- you need to figure out a way to work with her.

Now- I'm ONLY suggesting this as it is a temporary job, but I think you should sit down with her, butter her up with flattery, and ask her opinion about your lesson plans. I think it's worth a shot- if she's a proper bitch, she'll just be an idiot about it still, however, if she is good, she will take the opportunity to give you her suggestions and you can benefit from her experience.

It's definitely worth a chance- better than leaving early and jeopardising future job prospects.

Viviennemary Sat 10-Nov-12 19:05:23

What an awful situation for you. I agree with the person who says ask your TA to take out small groups of children. It must be stressful if you think she is watching you all the time. She sounds like one of those TA's who thinks she knows better than you and she should be the teacher yourself. Very difficult situation. As it's a temporary job the best thing is just to stick it out as best as you can. But if you can discuss this with somebody that would be helpful. Good luck!

TheFallenMadonna Sat 10-Nov-12 19:08:34

Talk to your mentor about this. I help my NQT manage TAs.

HalfSpamHalfBrisket Sat 10-Nov-12 19:09:03

Oh Jenny - how grim for you.
(To any TAs out there reading this: the advice I give below is basically to help Jenny get thorugh the next six weeks not how I would usually advocate building a relationship with a TA)

- Be utterly, ridiculously, clinically 'professional' (to the point of 'detached') - be very specific about what you want her to do for you and the assessment data you require. Call her on it if she does not do what she is asked to do.
- Tell her to speak to you one-to-one if she thinks there has been an issue with the lesson content, and that it is inappropriate to talk over you whilst you are speaking to the class (unless there is a safety issue!). If she then contradicts you whilst you are talking again, call her on it.

Speak to your line manager/mentor/another friendly member of staff for advice.

Remember: (and sorry for the shouting...)

Brazen this out for the next 6 weeks, then find somewhere that suits you better - you will have learned so much from this term.

marriedinwhite Sat 10-Nov-12 19:09:40

OP. Chin up. The TA is your line managee; she has been incredibly insubordinate to undermine your authority in front of the children. You really need to talk this through with the Head of Key Stage or someone else at the school you feel you can trust. Do you have regular line management meetings yourself to monitor your progess where you can bring this up? Have you had a graded lesson observation and how has it gone?

You need to raise this in a constructive manner but note that you feel your progress has been hampered in as discreet a way as you can - try to couch it in terms of you hope the next NQT won't suffer in the same way.

Good luck - plough on and grit your teeth. You really don't want 5 weeks of stress related sickness on your record if you intend to continue teaching.

As a last resort can you talk this through with a tutor from college as you would have done on placement? I'm sure they would be helpful and supportive.

HalfSpamHalfBrisket Sat 10-Nov-12 19:10:56

(And that advice above is only because Jenny seems to have been friendly and pleasant to no avail - I am honestly not a cow and love my TA heaps!)

HumphreyCobbler Sat 10-Nov-12 19:11:17

I know how soul sapping this kind of situation can be, but I think that HalfSpam has given you excellent advice.

marriedinwhite Sat 10-Nov-12 19:15:29

And Jenny, I give the advice above as the "old bag" from HR who works in education and has seen it all. You need to minimise the risks to you; your reference and your future. The TA sounds as though she is bullying you. She isn't a teacher; probably because she doesn't have the foundation education or commitment to contemplate being one.

It's only five weeks - try to imagine how often in those five weeks she needs to go red in the face and have a good strain just like every other human - imagine it when she's being a bitch my darling wink

ninah Sat 10-Nov-12 20:51:42

jenny I know where you are coming from
Have a ta a bit like this in my class too, no hesitation in talking to class over me, thinks she knows everything. She means well, but even when she works with children she never gives them space to make choices or answer questions, it makes me wince. On the other hand she is experienced, sensible and has some good qualities. I grit my teeth! when things go the way she wants things are fine. When I ask her to do things for me, I get 'the face'. I've spent ages getting children to line up (EYFS) and one day she dismissed them while I was doing up a cardigan ('oh, you were busy with X) so that half ran off, and the other half was left. She knew I was not pleased because one of the boys laughed at told her she'd been told off.
I'm going with a mixture of halfspam's approach and my normal, pro team attitude. I'm not here for her to like me. My mentor knows because it is historical. My observations have been good and an outside observer commented on the great team work and good support I had. However that was in the 'honeymoon' period, now that I am actually making demands of her it's a lot worse. She has no idea of how to support a class session and just sits there, either gazing into space, or buts in. She is 20 years older than me (and I am not young) and more experienced. I am quite thick skinned but it is incredibly demotivating. And, unlike you, I am there for TWO terms! argh! stick it out, I will be so envious of you at Xmas!

learnandsay Sat 10-Nov-12 21:06:42

To be honest, if I was a teacher and the TA contradicted me in front of the children I'd just send her out of the classroom on an errand. And if she continued to do it the errands would get longer and longer until she was out of the classroom for six hours at a time.

ninah Sat 10-Nov-12 21:09:21

that's all well and good learn but impractical in a school day, sadly

TheFallenMadonna Sat 10-Nov-12 21:19:52

You don't grit your teeth if the TA is not doing a good job. You either help them to do a better one, or, of you are inexperienced yourself, you make sure your mentor does it for you.

MavisGrind Sat 10-Nov-12 21:24:38

I could have written much of your post a year ago - nqt year is so very hard! I'm now into my second year in post and my TA still knows much more about certain aspects of the class but I am the teacher and I am now in a position to get her to help me out rather than feel judged by her (although at the end of a long week I still wonder if she thinks I'm hopless!)

I know it seems an age until Christmas and I know how long Autumn term lasted last year for me but believe me it will be over before you know it and you can concentrate on getting a job in a school you feel more comfortable in.

Speak to your mentor and get them onside otherwise think in terms of 30 days. That's all it is - and with nativity plays, Christmas craft days, discos, bring a toy to school day etc etc, it will soon go!

Best of luck, I really feel for you - this time last year was when I started buying lottery tickets - I knew this was a bad sign!

ninah Sat 10-Nov-12 21:29:34

what if they think they are doing a fab job and really, really don't listen? and your mentor came out of the class themselves because they were having such a lousy time? I feel I have to pick my battles, and prioritise what is important. High up on my list is getting phonemes pronounced correctly and promoting a more child centred approach to activities

clam Sat 10-Nov-12 21:31:25

What a horrible situation. Clearly it's not an ideal situation to be just there for a term in your NQT year, and I'm wondering whether you are receiving all the support that an NQT should in order to survive and thrive.

You sound as if you're under intolerable stress and therefore possibly taking the TA's attitude more personally than you otherwise would if you were feeling on top of your game. It's such a shame as, with the right support and encouragement, things could be so different. I speak as a teacher who currently is mentoring two students and has an NQT in the parallel (difficult) class. I view my role as a bit like that parent who runs along behind the child learning to ride a bike - holding the back of the saddle to guide, then letting go a bit, and whoosh, off they go. If they have a bad day or are unhappy with how a lesson went, we talk about it, swear a bit and then have a think about what went wrong and how we could alter things for next time. And sometimes we just write it off as one of those days. We're human.

I think you'd be more than justified in seeing the doctor and getting signed off with stress, actually (if the doc agrees) but if you possibly can, it would be so much better for your self-esteem if you could grit your teeth and make it through to the end of term. It's 6 weeks - and the last couple of weeks at least, will have all the lovely Christmassy things that can be one of the nicest things about a primary school.

And don't forget, you've got successful teaching practices under your belt. You can do this. Don't lose sight of the teacher inside you. You just need to find her again.

Good luck.

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