Back to School: the TA’s edition

I’ve hardly set an alarm all summer. Yet when I switch my 6:40 and 7:00 alarms on, it feels like it was only yesterday that I joyfully turned them off. That first morning isn’t easy, but early nights make it more bearable. A quick shower and bleary-eyed breakfast later and it’s into the car (thankful for my hubby’s new flexible working hours so not having to walk!), off to school.

No kids on the first day – praise the Lord. Nevertheless, 10 minutes into the day and I’m already thinking about what other jobs I can apply for. Catching up on holidays, sitting through seemingly pointless meetings about how we want the children to be about more than numbers and data (which is all very well…but when will we practice what we preach?), staff lunch where our colleague brings her squishy new baby in for cuddles before the germs arrive tomorrow. We’re all secretly wishing weΒ were off for a year. I spend the afternoon laminating things and worrying about the kids arriving tomorrow. Complex needs and potentially aggressive parents, as well as 15 kids that we’ve never met. Literally, no information about them. Only a name and knowing that they don’t want to be at our school so much that they haven’t got in touch at all. Not a great start.

Day 2, hello children. As a first (half) day it wasn’t so bad. At the end of last year, our class could hardly sit on the carpet quietly for more than 30 seconds. This group can do it. Apart from the girl with additional needs, they all sit pretty quietly, listening. Whoa. Maybe I won’t leave after all.

Day 3, get me out. I nearly cried during the day. Despair at the whole thing, not knowing whether to stay or go.Β Should I try a different school? Do I even want to work with children anymore? This picture summed up how I was feeling…

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Day 4, they stayed for lunch. In a word? Nightmare. I had a banging headache by the time we sent them home. No time to dwell, off to Hungary for the weekend for a wedding.

Monday, first full day. I think we’re all at the end of our tether. One teacher of 7 years said she feels like an NQT again – help! Parents complaining about the state of their children at the end of the day. I did try to stop her sitting the mud, and painting herself. I’m not an awful TA, I promise.

We make it through our first week. Unscathed? Not sure I’d go that far. This drink is very much needed on Friday evening, I’m surprised I haven’t had one every night. We all discuss the high possibility of becoming serial wine drinkers by the end of the year.

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Week 2, we’re struggling to embrace the chaos. Defiant and downright rudeness from some children (sorry, they’re not all little angels at school), whilst others are forging friendships that, who knows, might just last a lifetime. Or they might last til lunchtime because they won’t share the scissors (there are about 20 other pairs on the shelf). Parents push past me on the door at the end of the day to change a book (PLEASE do it in the morning, I need to make sure nobody escapes without a parent waiting!) or fetch their child’s coat (can’t they come in themselves to find it?). We inwardly collapse in a heap on the floor before getting the classroom back in order. Another day is done.

This all paints a rather negative picture. There are lovely moments too. Watching a small group build a bus/rocket and take a trip to the seaside. Two children who had never met 2 weeks ago play together so harmoniously that they could have known each other for ages. One child sits and holds the hand of a little girl with additional needs, helping her gather the pompoms together to make a comfortable seat. Seeing a beautifully written name, an incredibly well thought out picture of a leaf man, an imaginative painting of a chocolate chip cookie (it’s a large, green and blue rectangle with purple chocolate chips). Listening to them read each other stories and talk about their holidays.

But is it hard. Really hard. We have a particularly challenging cohort this year and are all tripping and stumbling through days at the moment. Are we really only on week 3 of 39?! Roll on half term, 5 and a half weeks to go…

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