Having a TA is nice, but I can't stop feeling like I'm being watched!

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Pisces_Fish, Mar 28, 2011.

  1. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    Mar 28, 2011

    And I know my TA's (I share 2) are "onto me" because they hardly come to my room anymore.

    Here we are, nearing the end of the year and I can't get past it! Worse yet, they come in during my math block, the area in which I feel I'm weakest.

    When anyone else is in the room (tutor, admin, fellow teacher, whoever) I just can't focus! I usually do well during observations because the adrenalin helps somehow, but without the added pressure of an observation, having a TA in the room just makes my nerves in a tizzy.

    How can I get over this and utilize my TA effectively? :unsure:

    Edit to add: I think my biggest problem is that they are both education students nearing student teaching, so I feel like they are judging my style or management.
     
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  3. peachacid

    peachacid Companion

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    Mar 28, 2011

    What do they do while they're in your room? Just stand around? Do you have specific things they can work on with the kids? Maybe have your students in groups and then they can help some groups while you help others. Or have them assigned to specific things so they're not just standing there.
     
  4. ally06

    ally06 Companion

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    Mar 28, 2011

    It took me a long time to be comfortable with having other adults in the room and I still get nervous sometimes (after 10 years!) I found giving my TAs specific tasks with specific students helped, or having them take a group as part of rotations. I tried not to be doing whole class teaching during their time so I was not up 'performing' with the focus on me!
     
  5. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I went from TA to teacher. The absolute best thing you can do, provided that they are willing, is assign them things to do. If they are interested in education, they should be willing to take on meaningful tasks. Try to resist giving them busy work just to take them out of the room. Really let them be involved.

    Now imagine getting the teacher job just before I finish my degree and having the TA's in my room who used to be my peers. Okay, THAT was a little nervy but I got through it too. The busier they are, the better it works for everyone. They may be looking at your teaching style, but if you make them a part of your class, more than likely they aren't going to be judging because they will be too busy being involved. Think of them like student teachers but ones that are required to actually help you any way you need it.

    If math is your weakest subject, find out if they enjoy math. Give them a table to work with. Let them help.

    You have watched them work hopefully long enough to see if they are able to do the tasks I'm suggesting. Use your judgement. The trick though is to UTILIZE them. It does take extra planning, ironically or at least thinking through.

    This is one of the best problem posts regarding TA's I've seen in a while. You have not said one negative thing about them. That suggests to me that the problem is not their work ethic but your inability to use them in a way that helps you and keeps them floating around rather than watching you. That, my friend, you can solve.

    I was super lucky to have such a teacher that used me that way. I loved her for it. Ironically others viewed her in a lesser light but for all that she did for me, I was rather loyal to her. Again, it depends on the work ethic and personality of the aides, but nothing in your post has hinted that these are the problem areas.

    Good luck.
     
  6. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Mar 28, 2011

    My TA is usually too busy to watch me. She has some many things to work on while in the classroom, whether it is administering testing, working with students, setting up stations, etc .... there is no time for her to just sit and watch. Well, except in math, because sometimes she needs the lesson as much as the students do. But then she is truly trying to learn not critiquing.
     
  7. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    Mar 28, 2011

    I think you have had good advise on keeping them busy so they are engaged. Make sure to thank them for what they do and develop relationships with them so they like you and want to support you. Tell them if they see things that aren't working to let you know because you always like to learn and grow as a teacher, but don't act like a doormat and let them run things. Most of all, be confident and let that confidence shine through. If you don't feel it - fake it. It works for parents and kids too. It is the famous "don't let them see you sweat" theory.

    Two of the three classes I teach are parent participation classes so I had to get used to having adults in the room quickly. Usually about 20% are former or on leave teachers and I have even had a former principal and, even worse, the husband of my boss, the director of the program. I "justify" what I am doing a lot - when I explain activities I try to add things like "we are squeezing sponges, using tongs or ?" today to strengthen children's hands to improve their fine motor skills for writing.... This helps people realize the crazy things I do have value and, makes people think I know what I am doing. I work hard at developing relationships, taking a minute to talk to everyone, even when I am busy. You "own" that classroom - feel it!
     
  8. Pacificpastime

    Pacificpastime Companion

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    Mar 28, 2011

    I do not have a TA currently, but in the past I put them to work. We would do small groups and the TA would rotate between them helping when needed. We would also have large group work and then one-on-one time with myself and TA. Sometimes the TA would do a lesson together. Occasionally, I would have the TA grade some papers, but that was only if I was really behind, or really had to do a lesson by myself with the whole class.
    My advice is put them to work, and trust them. Give them a little autonomy. It will show you respect them and their work and they will give you that same respect back.
     
  9. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I find myself doing the same thing. I explain why we do things the way we do. If they are education majors, they will appreciate this. If they aren't, they will develop a little understanding of what we are doing so they can support me better. I find it easier to work with people who may need support or are genuinely interested than those who just skirt by and earn a paycheck. So if you have those that are genuinely interested, use it to your advantage. Sometimes when they share things, I learn quite a bit too. It should be like any other collaborative relationship in the school. It's hard to build that self-confidence though. I suffered under that my first year too but it got better by the second half of the year because I was determined and I received some good advice that worked out for me.
     

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