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What Should I Know By Now? And Other Questions


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I have been working in a reception class as a TA since January and I am really enjoying it. I have to be honest and say it isn't anything like I was expecting but it is good fun and I am enjoying myself.

 

The thing is though, being new to a school environment, there is tons of stuff I don't know but feel I should do. I had a bit of a moment last week when I was asked to play a game found in the Letters and Sounds document with the lower ability group. I didn't have a clue what I was doing and ended up getting quite emotional about it all until another TA stepped in and modelled the session to me. The upset was largely caused by myself as I felt a bit silly asking for help, and looking back on it now, know that the only way I am going to learn the things I need to is to ask those in the know. However, I don't want to make myself look totally incapable either so don't want them to feel I am harrassing them every time I'm unsure of something.

 

I am also struggling a little bit with the way the unit works in a school. When I was working in nursery, the children were encouraged to move things around the rooms and direct their own learning. Now, in reception we have to stop the children moving objects from one area to another. We have a couple of children who spend most of their time in the construction area, but I have to try and get them accessing other areas of the unit, so was thinking about bringing the bricks into other areas to encourage them to explore other actitivities. Also, is it the norm for children to be stopped when they are doing something to participate in adult led activities? Again, I have a little bit of an issue with this but it could be misplaced. Obviously I understand that in reception there are things the children have to do but it seems like such a struggle actually encouraging them to do it.

 

Our children have been with us since January and are still finding their feet around the school. I actually like this because we are learning all about it together which is nice. I am just finding myself getting increasingly anxious at the new terminology and the different ways of working.

 

The teacher I am working with is fab and has been really supportive. It is also her first time in reception so again, it is the learning together thing. We seem to be working well together at the moment and I feel I can approach her about anything, however at times, I feel like I may be taking over, so am learning to rein myself in xD .

 

My final question is, how can I be supportive of the teacher, the unit and the children in general? By that I suppose I'm asking what qualities you would like/appreciate in your TA. For example, would you expect your TA to be involved in the planning process? Are there specific jobs your TA has that you don't really have to be involved in?

 

I know this is long and it's a big ask. I am on a mission to improve my school practice and with PGCE coming up, I want to get on top of it now! :o

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Hello Clare, no it doesn't sound like you haven't learned anything in 9 years, just that you have entered a different environment and are to a degree experiencing some 'culture shock'

 

The good news is that you shouldn't worry too much about this. I remember in the reverse situation when I stepped out of school and into a Children's Centre and spent time with the nursery there, like you, I was really out of my comfort zone, What was all this coming and going, shift patterns , children moving from one base to the next etc etc that Id never been used to? Talk about learning curve! But learn you do and before you know it, you'll be getting used to the things you now find strange.

 

To get to your specific points, every school is different just like any day nursery or pre school is different. In a sense then, there isnt a 'well do they always do this and this?' So for example, yes Id say its quite usual in many schools that people tend not to want everyhting moved here there and everywhere, often this is about space available and constraints on timetable. However, there will be teachers here who will come back and say well we do so and so. You didnt say whether or not your teacher has an earkly years background, and if she hasnt this could explain partly why things are the way they are. She may not have considered the idea of moving the construction to somewhere else in the way you describe.

Likewsie with the adult focus activities. Yes Id say it was quite usual in many schools (and I have to say many other settings too) to call children to do a task when they are engaged in something else. A lot of this is down to the pressures felt by FS teachers from higher up, you must do this and that every day, and Im sure you will have read the many posts here from such teachers who are really constrained by what they are 'allowed' to do and what they are not. You could 'gently' raise this with your class teacher if you have a good relationship with her, she may welcome your ideas and experience.

 

When I worked in school, I always hoped that my TAs would engage in planning, some did, some didnt want to and some wouldnt. I see it as an essential part of the EYFS but schools constriaints dont always allow this. Also your tecaher may have never had this experince and so may not really know that you are willing to support planning unless you tell her or ask her to be involved. I could never insist for example that my TAs stayed behind after school one day or at lunch time to plan with me, as it was outside of their contracted hours.

 

In terms of activities you have been asked to do but arent sure what you are doing, its OK to ask, to say you're not sure or are unfamiliar. If you are regularly going to be doing Letters and sounds with groups, then get yourself familiar with the materials maybe? If there are course available, then ask if you can go on anything that you think may help you.

 

It might also be a good idea to look at your job description or ask your class teacher what they expect for you if this hasnt already been discusssed. There were things I used to like my TA to do, for example do end of day story times, or take reponsibility for some dispalys, and we negotiated this as we went along.

 

Clare Im sure you are doing fine, and as someone who is also in a new job and feeling a great deal of 'culture shock' too, I often find myself thinking I dont actually know what I dont know until it comes up.

 

I do hope you haven't nodded off by now..

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I felt a bit silly asking for help, and looking back on it now, know that the only way I am going to learn the things I need to is to ask those in the know. However, I don't want to make myself look totally incapable either so don't want them to feel I am harrassing them every time I'm unsure of something.

 

Every setting has it's own way of working and the only way to know what is expected is to ask so don't worry

 

. Also, is it the norm for children to be stopped when they are doing something to participate in adult led activities? Again, I have a little bit of an issue with this but it could be misplaced. Obviously I understand that in reception there are things the children have to do but it seems like such a struggle actually encouraging them to do it.

 

My children are allowed to move things around but are expected to return them when they are finished

 

 

 

 

My final question is, how can I be supportive of the teacher, the unit and the children in general? By that I suppose I'm asking what qualities you would like/appreciate in your TA. For example, would you expect your TA to be involved in the planning process? Are there specific jobs your TA has that you don't really have to be involved in?

:o

 

Once again each setting has it's own way of working and TAs have different terms and conditions in the hours they actually work. In my setting NNs and TAs are paid for 37 and 1/2 hours a week so have time before and after the children leave to join in the planning process . We work very much as a team and there aren't any jobs she does that I don't take a turn in doing too.

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