Our district, due to big state budget cuts, cut all teacher assistants this year except for ESE assistants. It is very difficult to function without them and was just wondering how many of you do or do not have either full or part time assistants?
My first year teaching I had a wonderful assistant who was really good at discipline. My second year my assistant was terrible. She'd come in and grade a few papers and then sit in the back and do nothing! One time I caught her napping. I'd try to include her as much as possible and ask her to assist students but she had no motivation to do so. She sometimes rolled her eyes at me when I asked her to help. I brought the situation up with our principal and unfortunately, things didn't change too much (their motto is give everyone a fair chance and I said she had used up her chances!)
In the years that followed, I've had assistants off and on, some more helpful than others. It really helped me to do a short "training" at first as to what their role & responsibilities are so everyone is clear.
I've found it a very good idea to ask for parent volunteers to come in and help with center time & special projects. Some parents really want to come in and this gives them the opportunity.
I do have an assistant now during reading time (1 hr 15 min in the morning). She teaches a small group and monitors centers. It is really nice to have her around.
I teach in FL where they passed a class size amendment---Kindergarten is limited to 18 students now. It is wonderful! In the past I've taught with as many as 31 students with no assistant. We have to rely on parent volunteers. It seems that it is feast or famine. Last year I had absolutely no help and this year I am very lucky to have two wonderful parent volunteers who come almost every day an stay all day some days. They are very helpful. We are full day and mandatory.
We only have assistants for our full day kindergarten. There are only three all day K in our system right now. We will expand every year. We have no cap on class size and no assisitants for 1/2 day. I do have wonderful parent volunteers though.
No assistants in our Kindergarten. A Title 1 assistant comes twice a week for 30 mins, however, the time she is scheduled for us is not a useful time. We do have an assistant who makes our copies, checks daily work, laminates and can cover for us if we need to run to the restroom or answer an emergency phone call.
Hi! Yes, I feel for you! We too, used to have an asst in each classroom, then with budget cuts we went to one for every two classrooms, then later on to one per grade level, and for the past few years.........none at all.
What is sad is that the state wants us to do "magic" with learning and testing and the No Child Left Behind program, but keeps taking anything and anyone who could possibly help.
I have tried several different stategies.... I agree that you have to take the time for a short "teaching on how to be an asst" since many have never done it and usually either do not know what to just jump in to do and what would be considered as stepping on the teacher's toes.
In our school district, anyone who will be helping out in a classroom on a regular basis, must have a criminal background check and have some other paperwork on file. Not a bad thing, but just costs money that some do not want to pay.
Anyway, I have had parent helpers and many are very eager to help. Some do not come regularly or do not let you know when they are not coming, but most work out well with guidance as to what you want them to do. We do have the issue of the child privacy act.......so the parents must understand they cannot talk about the children or their progress outside of our classroom. The one problem that I did come across several times was the fact that the student whose mom/dad was helping, would not behave well when they were in the room together. I tried a spin on things and attempted to different things. I had the parent helper work in another room to put booklets together, cut patterns, or other things that really help me out by having done.......or I have had them do a center in the classroom in which small groups go to the parent to do a craft or learn a skill-game. If anyone does not behave at that station, they are not allowed to go back there that day. That helped with the behavior issue a lot.
I did ask the other kindergarten teachers to work with me and what we did a few years (and it worked well) was to "exchange parents." For example, we have three rooms (so A, B, and C)........so the parent helpers from room A, worked with the kids in classroom B......and B parents worked in classroom C and so C went to room A. It worked out great and the kids did not have their own parents in the room.
We did have retired teacher / friends come on certain days. They were great in that we did not have to train them, we only had to have things ready for them when they walked in. They set up the days they could volunteer and they did whatever needed to be done. Sometimes they read with the kids, or taught skills to small groups. They tested our kids over flashcards and since they were teachers, I knew the testing was valid and not going to be repeated outside of class. This year we have our retired PE teacher come in. He wanted to help on the days he was not doing his fun job.......and so he comes in and teaches the kids small and large motor games. He also helps in the classroom and loves to join us on field trips!
Okay..........the other two resources I use are these:
I have a cadet teacher who comes for about an hour each day. She is a senior and has that hour to give us. I think they are given a credit (or .5), but she seems to love coming. She checks their BEE Binders for me and runs the Morning Math Meeting. This gives me time to work with a student or small group........to test..........or to take care of setting up for the next lesson at their tables. She has been working so closely with me that I had her take over a couple of fun lessons. For the past couple of weeks, she has been running the discussion, the papers, and the activities for The Five Senses unit. I think she enjoys actually working with the kids. I am her asst at this time, but I guide her through anything she is struggling with. It has proven to be a great experience! You might check with your high school, if it is nearby. I have had cadet teachers for the past three years.
Also, my daughter attends a local college and she donates time each week to come in and assist in my class. She is studying to be an elementary teacher and this gives her great experience and she is able to learn first-hand. I am fortunate that the college help I have is my daughter, but oftentimes local colleges welcome the offer for their students to learn first hand. This semester my daugher only has chapel on Thursday mornings, so she is able to help with my AM and my PM classes! What I would suggest, if you have two kdg classes is to find someone who is willing to come to the last part of your AM class and then stay through lunch and begin your PM class with you. That is not always possible, so when my daughter can, she donates her time to the class my cadet cannot come to.
I guess what I am saying is that if you keep brainstorming with the teachers in your grade-level, you will think of endless possibilities for adult help! None of the solutions I have used in my classroom cost the school any money, so they are fine with it as long as I let them know what I am doing ahead of time.
Oh, by the way...........We also have a fairly new program that is different than having a student teacher for a few months. It is a program in which adults who have graduated from college, but who decided to return to college and earn a degree in education, earn their degree (since all of their other courses have been met) in about nine months. I have had two of these students in my classroom and had a terrific experience both times. They have to put in so much "classroom time" and are eager to work with you on whatever lessons they can help with or do. It is like an on-going student teacher who has been in the working world already. It did not cost the school any money, gave them their months for their practicum, and helped my students and ME very much!
Okay, okay..........I will stop..........Hope at least one of these ideas works for you. We all need help!
I have a TA 3 times per day. Last year my TA was awful. This year, she is okay but our school tends to hire TAs with limited english speaking abilities, even in ESL classes! My advice is to have parents volunteer. I have found this works best for me. I also have parents willing to take home projects for the students that I don't have time to do. They have more motivation to be involved and do the best work because they have a child in your class. TAs...you just never know how good or bad they might be and principals are very hesitant to reprimand the bad ones. I say get parents involved. It's very important and most of them really want to help.