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Working with different people - suggestions?


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I wasn't quite sure where to post this or what title to give it so I hope it makes sense!

I have seen the timetables for TA support that I have next year. I have a class of 30 (19 YR and 11 Y1) and 3 different people will be supporting the class (in addition to me!) - all at different times. I have a total of 10 hours support (which includes our lunchtime slot for hearing readers) all in the mornings. Sometimes the slot of time is 45 minutes. I do have one morning where I have support for a lovely long slot of 2 1/2 hours. A couple of mornings there will be 3 different adults in one after another.

I am trying to come up with ways to ensure that I can keep them informed about what's happening and that they can come straight into the classroom and get on with things. In a couple of lesson observations in the past I have been criticised because the observer felt that the TA working with me wasn't being 'active' enough or extending the children's learning.

One of the TAs (who I have for the largest amount of time) has no EY experience at all. I also tend to find that once I've started the day it's something of a whirlwind - I don't have time to stop and talk through an activity or plan with someone else. Some people take this personally and get upset with me. I'm often in the middle of an adult-led activity or doing an input when someone arrives in the classroom.

So, any suggestions for how I can manage this? I want to make sure that people know what they're doing, what the expectations are and that the children are as well supported as they can be.

Feel free to be obvious - I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed by it and am struggling to see the wood for the trees at the moment!

Thank you.

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My goodness what a lot of comings and goings you're going to have!

Don't work in school so can't really comment, except to say it seems to me you are going to have to be super, super, super organised!!

Certainly am! I think that's partly what's bothering me - I am generally really organised and yet am still feeling overwhelmed by this.

 

Does everyone else have an opportunity to speak to people before the day starts? If not, how do you make sure people know what's going on?

 

In the past I've done a copy of my planning and highlighted specific things I want my TA to support. This is ok except that the last person who worked with me used to read it then hover to check what she was to do every time - I might as well not have written it down in the first place. I also produced a set of 'priorities' for the class. That was largely ignored and I'd be in the ridiculous situation of trying to do an input for my Y1s, while being asked by reception if they can go to the toilet or show me their latest model and keeping one ear open for and dealing with potential conflict between two others. All while there was another adult in the room. I felt like none of the children ever got the best of me. :(

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I can understand something of what you mean Froglet. Can you have an e mail conference or phone conference once a weeks for your helpers so that you can get across what you want and they can express an opinion? Have a team meeting each start of term if these are parents volunteering I am sure they can manage half an hour or so for a meeting. Set some adult classroom rules again!

 

Invite them to one of your yummy tea time cake sessions!

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Thanks Panders. Glad it doesn't sound like I'm talking complete nonsense! These 3 are actually TAs. The e-mail is a good idea and I know 2 out of 3 of them do check e-mail regularly. I will have to see if I can do some negotiating with other teachers to try and get them all together some time. The advent of single status didn't go down well in our school so arranging something at lunch time isn't likely to be possible.

 

I think a clear re-setting of classroom 'rules' is a good plan too.

 

I thought about having a folder where I can put planning for them and make any notes they need to read. I also think I need to work out a way to make it clear what next steps for different children will be. One of them has worked mainly in KS2 and is a little inclined to think my class are cute!

 

Would it be wrong of me to become very precise about what I want for the room? It feels a bit dictatorial which isn't really me but I want to ensure things are consistent through the week.

 

I will also have one parent helper at some point but oddly enough am less concerned about her - she works in one of my feeder pre-schools!

 

I'm really sorry if I'm sounding very negative and moany - I'm just worried. I'm sure everything will resolve itself in the end. Thanks for listening.

 

Invite them to one of your yummy tea time cake sessions!

Cake is regularly on offer in the staff room! It's the only way I can indulge my love of baking without having to eat the lot and become the size of a small mansion!

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I don't think it would come across as dictatorial, if you explain why you are laying things out the way you are ,I.e because you have so little time to talk once the session is underway and that during that time you need to be focussing

on the children and not the adults. Which some of mine definitely forget. I'm afraid some adults just don't get how important it is to put the children first.

 

You will, I think, have to be brave enough to critique adults work as you go along, so that they know just what you are expecting. Will they be helping the same group of children each time, so that they build up a sense of progress? Or will they have different children each time they come into help?

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with so many coming and going at different times you will probably need to be very clear on what is expected of each of them and I would err on the side of 'if I dont say it wont happen' and being precise of what you want may be the best way to go..

i would also suggest that from the start you meet each of them and let them know what is expected of them, along with letting them know you will not be available every time they arrive to brief them but will do it by whichever turns out to be the best way for you, be it email or written planning for the day etc.. time to make things very clear from the start . As Sunnyday has suggested also time to discuss things them if they are not doing as you are asking, or not confident enough to do some of them..

As we all know this age are far from the easiest to work with, and the so unpredictable . Those not used to this age group may also be expecting more of them than they are able to give.. we were always very aware that in preschool the beginning of the year was so challenging and made us realise how much progress they make over the year.

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Thank you both for more advice. I have woken up this morning and while I'm still worried about it have decided to try and be positive and look on it as good training for the leadership role I'd like to have one day!

Inge - it's a really good point about the start of the year. One of the things I have found is that with this age group the need never to assume is even more critical and that if they aren't doing something (at all or just not the way you'd like it) you need to take a step back and explain clearly what you are looking for. The person I worked with last year would get very cross with the children for not tidying up properly - at the start of the year. I'd even said to her that at tidy up time I wanted her to focus on a particular area and teach them how to tidy it up.

The one new to EY does tend to have high expectations of academic ability - I worked with her in Y1/2 a while ago when she would move them on because they've done something right which is good in some respects but she didn't always see the need for consolidation and security with a concept. However, she has done a lot of work with SEN children since so I'm hoping she'll have a better sense of this not being as easily achieveable as just telling them once.

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I think this is really bad management on behalf of the SMT. If somebody has no experience of EYFS then it is up to the SMT to put training in place and to compensate whilst that person is getting trained. What about effective relationships and key worker? I don't know of any reception class that doesn't have full time TA. It really annoys me that you are left to pick up the pieces!!! Sorry to rant.

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I think this is really bad management on behalf of the SMT. If somebody has no experience of EYFS then it is up to the SMT to put training in place and to compensate whilst that person is getting trained. What about effective relationships and key worker? I don't know of any reception class that doesn't have full time TA. It really annoys me that you are left to pick up the pieces!!! Sorry to rant.

Or in this instance an SMT with very limited TA time throughout the school who has done their best to balance giving my class support with providing support to some very high needs children in the rest of the school. They have to consider the needs of all the children in school and manage that the best way they can with the resources they have available. I have no doubt that training will be put in place to help those with limited EY experience and it's up to me as the class teacher to identify those gaps and discuss with SMT how best to address them.

The reception classes you know are very lucky - I don't think I know any with a full time TA! It's an ideal, not a requirement and knowing my SMT I trust completely that I will be given whatever support I possibly can be.

Edited by Froglet
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I don't work in a school so wouldn't presume - but I do work with a staff team not all of whom work everyday and whilst it is not perfect we keep a day book of things that have come up that other members of the team "must" know so that we remember to tell them rather than things getting "lost" in the melee of the busyness (new word not a mistype) of the day

HOWEVER we are also trying to get our non full timers to be a bit proactive and ask each time they come in "Is there anything I really must know" rather than waiting to be spoon fed information all the time

If nothing else it helps spread the "I must remember" load

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SueJ thank you, that's a great idea. It is the issue of working with a team who aren't all full time rather than it being a school I think. I'm thinking a day book could have things both from an admin point of view and a general one. e.g. Couldn't do subtraction - have changed maths plan for Wednesday to X's cat has died - bit wibbly to Y has been a bit off colour at home - keep an eye!

 

HOWEVER we are also trying to get our non full timers to be a bit proactive and ask each time they come in "Is there anything I really must know" rather than waiting to be spoon fed information all the time

This is something we are trying to do as a whole school!

 

If nothing else it helps spread the "I must remember" load

I really need to do that - sometimes my head feels like it's going to explode with all the things I'm remembering!

As for the busyness word - I use it lots so knew exactly what you meant!

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