Dear Barbara ...
I've created the Dear Barbara column as a way for subs to get answers to questions about any subbing topic or suggestions that may help you solve a specific problem in substitute teaching.

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How Do I Handle an Annoying Teacher's Aide?

Dear Barbara,

What should I do when a teacher's aide is making my life miserable?

The aide has an attitiude. She sits on her chair and does nothing. The student that she is assigned to help (a boy with ADHD) becomes disruptive because he is not getting the help he needs. I'm sure when the regular teacher is in school, the aide does her job. Because I am” just a sub”, I feel uncomfortable asking her to help. The few times that I have asked for help, she gives me “a look”, then gets off the chair, slowly, and walks to her student.

It is not in my nature to be confrontational, but it seems unfair to the child, the other students, and me!

How should I handle it?

Gail in Minnesota

Dear Gail,

I can understand how you must feel. People like the teacher's aide you are describing have a distinct way of intimidating others.

You, on the other hand, are a professional. You need not be confrontational. With a take charge tone, you must tell her that her assistance is needed right now. If necessary, remind her frequently. If she gives you her “look”, ignore it. Pretend you didn't see it. If you display an aura of confidence, you leave her no choice but to do her job.

Your demeanor must to be one of confidence. Remind yourself of your role. You are in charge of that classroom for the day. It is just as important to guide the teacher's aide, as it is to guide your students. Classrooms run smoothly when the teacher controls the flow.

It's important for you to feel comfortable in your subbing assignments. Establish your role with confidence each day. If an aide is with you, express your respect for her, thank her in advance, but be a clear leader in that classroom.

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