TAs who think they are God.

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One thing anyone should be aware of coming into this profession, is that you’ll get less drama in an episode of Coronation Street, than you will in a school. I’ve been back three days and the drama just doesn’t stop. Today, it was due to a TA who thinks that they are God. There will always be a TA who think’s that they are God, or the Son/ daughter/ neighbour of God. They will know how to do the perfect displays (you will always do them wrong), they will know what is best for the children (you aren’t qualified to know this) and they will always have an opinion (a strong, usually offensive opinion).

Well today I had a little episode with my Holy TA. I have mentioned her in a previous post Office Politics and I am aware of her character and try to watch myself accordingly. It all happened yesterday, my TA was off so this TA was sent into my class to cover (she doesn’t have a class of her own, but always seems to be busy; drinking tea, having a gossip, doing displays). Anyway, I digress, she was sent into my classroom and at the end of the day she was stood at the classroom door sending people home. We have a child who is quite ‘naughty’ and was on a behaviour plan. His behaviour has improved immensely, but that playtime he had pushed another child quite violently and this child needed first aid. The parents are very interested to see how their child has behaved that day, so at the end of the day they asked. This TA, let’s call her Steph, said ‘oh, he’s been great today… blah, blah, blah’. I said, ‘oh, but he did a little bit of an incident today where he pushed a child and he’s left a bruise.’ Steph then butted in and said, ‘Oh, but it wasn’t on purpose and the child he knocked into is not innocent all of the times.’ So that was that. I thanked her for her help and she stayed for another half an hour doing bits and bobs.

I didn’t think anything of it. I saw Steph in the staff room this morning, we had a chat, nothing much. That was it. Fast forward to 11am and I am in the PPA room with another TA and Steph comes flying through the door. ‘Do you know this incident with x?’

me: ‘What incident?’

Steph: ‘The incident that you told his mum about at home time yesterday’.

Me: ‘That he pushed someone and they needed first aid?’

Steph: ‘Did you log it?’

Me: ‘It happened at playtime, I was told about it-‘

Steph: ‘YES, but did you log it?’

Me: ‘I can’t log an incident if I wasn’t there. The dinner ladies logged it.’

Steph: ‘Well, I’ve just spoke to your TA who said it didn’t happen yesterday, but it happened before half term and you haven’t logged it on the DFE form.’

Me: ‘I don’t know what a DFE form is.’

Steph: ‘Well, you should do. And you said he needed first aid.

Me: Yes, he had a bump. And a small bruise-‘

Steph: So there was a small bruise?

Me: Yes.

Steph: Did you see it?

Me: Yes, he had a small bruise on his -‘

Steph: ‘You can’t get a small bruise in the space of a couple of hours.’

(Que the Head Mistress walking into the PPA room to get files. Que me wanting this conversation to end now).

Me: I saw the bruise and I spoke to the dinner lady. She said it was dealt with and -‘

Steph: Yeah, but you need to log it on the DFE form.’

Me: …er…right.

The conversation went on a bit more, headmistress is now listening in, other teacher is witnessing the whole thing and I’m just really confused. I don’t actually know what the conversation is about. I don’t know what the point is? Should I have logged something that I didn’t see? Is x lying about a bruise on his head? Am I in trouble because I mentioned something that happened this week and not something that happened before half term? And more importantly, who are you to publicly give me a dressing down in front of another colleague and the Headmistress? It is not about status, it’s about you being professional and actually knowing what you want to speak to me about, not bursting, literally bursting, into the PPA room and having a go at me. The tone cannot be done justice in print. I felt like I was being questioned by a lawyer. Everything I said was twisted, ‘yeah, but..’, ‘well I’ve just spoken to your TA who said…’

The other teacher in the room said the conversation was quite aggressive and I spoke to my Key Stage Manager as it is not the first time she has spoken to me like dirt. She’s very defensive and unprofessional, so I thought I had to seek advice on what to do because if she can say things like that and judge my abilities in front of the headmistress, what is she saying behind my back! So I have to take her to one side and speak to her tomorrow. I’m very nervous. I don’t want it to be blown into something bigger than it is, but also I will not be spoken to like that by anyone. It happens at least once a week. I haven’t started my lesson on time, I didn’t tell her I had swapped my hall duty- things that have nothing to do with her. And even though I know it’s my place to say something, I’m still not looking forward to it.

Afterwards I spoke to me Headmistress and clarified if I am meant to log something that I didn’t see. Just as I stated to Steph, no, you cannot log an incident in the playground that you did not see. You have to be a witness, otherwise we would be logging everything, ‘miss, Jake pushed me to the ground’, ‘Emily called me names’, ‘Hayley, gave me a black eye.’ As I was leaving she said, ‘I don’t know what a DFE form is either.’

Teachers 1  Holy TA 0

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New Term!

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So after two weeks and 1 day off for a fabulous Easter half term- I started back today for my third and final NQT term. Last night I was so worried about over sleeping, that in a panic I woke up at midnight and demanded that my other half get out of bed and set his alarm clock, ‘just in case mine didn’t go off.’ I was also worried about how I would cope with the 6am alarm call too, after I had been waking up at 11am on some days. (I’m an NQT. Don’t judge me). But it’s like your body just knows. I was up, showered, dressed and out the door at 7am. (Ouch).

The Bank Holiday yesterday has given me a boost, a little 4 day week to ease me back in. Last night I was worried about how I would teach, I don’t remember the marking policy, how do I do a plenary again? My electricity display is still really crap. Anyway, I needn’t have worried. Less than 5minutes back into the school and it felt like I had never been away.

I was hoping for a nice uneventful day too, but it started by my Headmistress asking me for last term’s reading test results. (I had given them to her just under a month ago). She could’t remember this. Then she did remember. Then she went to find them. Then she couldn’t find them. The woman still makes me nervous around her, so this wasn’t the best exchange at 8.30am on a Monday morning. Luckily, the year 4 teacher had let me in on a little secret in September, ‘Photocopy everything you give to Sandra. She looses everything. The amount of times I’ve spent ages doing something, only for her to loose it and I have to do it all over again.’ She had learn’t the hard way. Lucky for me I had taken her advice onboard, and I gave the headmistress the photocopy of the results.

An hour later, she was back. She wasn’t pleased with the reading results. Quite a few children have flatlined since September, a couple have gone backwards and hardly any are making enough APS points. Bloody APS points?! Our school is in an area of Yorkshire where 80% of the children can’t even speak English, let alone read English. So my dinner time was taken up with a meeting with my headmistress to discuss the children’s progress (or lack of it) and what needs to be done. I have all this data printed out and honestly, I don’t know how some of these children can move up 1 APS point, let alone the recommended national average of 6 points!

Anyway, I digress. I actually had a good day, and I was pleased to be back. Honestly, I really was. I’ve decided that I can’t be outstanding everyday, so I’ve let that pressure go. I’m happy with my work/ life balance, I love my class and I’m getting to terms with planning ‘good’ lessons on a daily basis. Yes, I’ve already got paperwork coming out of my ears, but in the grand scheme of things I was happy enough to go back to work today.

I’d be even happier if I didn’t have to set my alarm clock for 6am though….

I had a good lesson observation!

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So, I always thought that my NQT year would be quite straight forward. Not easy. But seeing as I had sailed through the PGCE, I didn’t expect it to be quite so soul destroyingly difficult as it has been so far. I haven’t had the best start to my NQT year, each lesson observation was deemed ‘Requires Improvement’. Which has been hard. Even though I knew that the outstandings I received on placements were not the based on the official OFSTED (spit on the floor) outstanding gradings, it was still difficult being told that you are no where near up to scratch. Factor in an absolutely abysmal observation four days before the end of the Christmas half term, ‘I mean you’ve passed, but only just’ and I had to admit to myself that my confidence was being slowly but fiercely chipped away from me. I had visions on the school asking me to leave after my NQT 1 year contract was up, I was feeling low and the worse teacher ever when I heard of others in the school who had been observed and got good, with elements of outstanding. I thought, maybe, I’m just one of those people who thinks that they are quite good, but are actually sh*t. Oh God- I’m a sh*t teacher!

So with all these negative thoughts/ feelings and my confidence at an out of character all time low, I had my lesson observation for this term, four days ago. And guess what. It was good! It was actually, really good, which made me feel really good. I can’t believe that grown people are turned into grinning, children again just by being told, by other grown people, that what they saw them teach was good. Ludicrous.

Anyway, I’ll tell you a little bit about my observation. It was literacy this time. My first literacy lesson and because my mentor has been so busy this term, it was two days before we broke up for half term, which meant that if it had gone terribly wrong, then there would not have been another opportunity for me to redo it before the end of half term. I knew that whatever was going to happen in my lesson observation was going into my official NQT assessment. But thankfully, it went as good as I had hoped and prayed it would. The children’s behaviour was exemplary, no one let me down. Even a last minute borrow of my TA for the yr6 practice SATS exams couldn’t dampen my spirits. I kept calm and carried on. 

The main difference with this lesson was that was confident in the lesson, I was looking forward to teaching it and I wanted someone to see it, because I knew it was fun, engaging and that the children would definitely learn from it and make thier bloody ‘progress.’ This enthusiasm for the lesson was contagious, the children fed off it and wanted to learn. I was more free to be creative than with my numeracy observations and i could be more flexible. I didn’t have to ensure I followed a strict, rigid format: starter, main, plenary. I could show my personality in this lesson and I feel that is why I ‘shined’ last week, so to speak. And I honestly cannot tell you how amazing and utterly relieved I felt after my observation. It was such a lovely way to end, what has been my favourite term so far.

I just wish that teacher’s happiness and stress levels were not determined by how well another person judges our lesson.