Looking ahead

24th March 2006 at 00:00
The part they don't get you ready for in teacher training is how to survive outside the classroom. Is there life beyond the school gates?

On March 27 (1pm), the Teachers' TV strand on work-life balance watches how two newly qualified primary school teachers are coping with stress, exhaustion and laryngitis in the run-up to Christmas. ("Sometimes it's all just a bit too much," one of them says - and don't you know how she feels!) The key is management: of the pupils, of the workload, of preparation, of time itself...

Meanwhile, Fit to Teach (March 18, 8am and April 21, 7.30pm), underlines the importance of looking after your own health and making sure that your staple diet is not coffee and biscuits in the staffroom. Ross and Irene, who feature in both films, get advice on unwinding and on balancing the demands of work and leisure. Though these programmes are being broadcast in the Teachers' TV "primary zone", much of what they have to say applies to teachers at every level.

Many people come to teaching from other professions and have no real idea of the workload or the extent to which the job can spill over into the rest of one's life.

Teachers' TV has a whole series of programmes under the general title Ease the Load in which life coach Gladeana McMahon helps some hard-pressed pedagogues to get their lives in order. Although these are not being broadcast in a particular week, you can find them online at www.teachers.tv.

Films coming up include one about assistant head Jacqueline Wheble who has a problem - Finding Time to Walk the Dog (April 3, 6.15pm). Gladeana's advice is quite simple: prioritise. She tells Jacqueline to sort her tasks out into those that need immediate action, those that need to be done later and those that may not need doing at all. Surprisingly, it works.

Being better organised makes Jacqueline feel more in control and, consequently, less stressed. She even starts to remember why she went into teaching in the first place. This documentary has a happy ending, with Jacqueline walking her dog.

Of course, in my day there were no life coaches, counsellors and motivators. We just got on with it - and had our nervous breakdowns on our own

Robin Buss

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