Time to take your vitamins

17th February 2006 at 00:00
Making a television channel for teachers isn't a job I'd have fancied, writes Peter Greaves.

When Teachers' TV launched a year ago it felt as if we were being offered a vitamin supplement, the teachers' equivalent to students' Bite Size revision. Wasn't it ill-conceived to suggest that the school day was too short for all the Inset a teacher needs? But maybe, just maybe, it's overcoming that first impression, through the cunning technique of "sometimes being useful".

Not happy with my efforts at teaching PE to Year 4, I watched KS2 PE and picked up some tips for warming up and organising the class. Useful.

I've seen some really good subject-specific features. I like watching other teachers teach, doing things differently from me, talking with different regional accents. And there's a feeling that you're watching real kids in real schools. A masterstroke in the "being useful" strategy was to include lots of programmes aimed at pupils. So Pathways of Belief supports a unit of RE; and the Stop, Look, Listen series helps my thematic work with early years. What I'm not convinced about, though, is that we teachers are ready or willing to download and watch programmes on our laptops. Maybe it's my age, but the day I have Teaching with Bayley on my video iPod, I fully expect to be arrested by the worklife balance police.

I've been on the other side, too - filmed for Resource Reviews, trying to teach a lesson and plug a resource. It's hard not to feel like an idiot with a microphone shoved up your shirt. My class loved having cameras and furry microphones around, although when one asked, "Will we be on Dick and Dom?", I realised that we had descended into chaos.

My seriously considered chalk-face opinions on resources, most notably Picturing Creation - a superb artRE resource - were roundly dissed by a "professional" pundit in the studio. So what was the point of filming me having a good idea, then getting someone who's never used the resource in a classroom to tell the viewers I'm wrong?

Teachers want to use their time well. We're also open to new ideas. So Teachers' TV will have a place, but only if it is consistently useful; at pound;20 million a year, you'd hope it would be.

Peter Greaves teaches at Dovelands primary school in Leicester and writes a weekly column for TES Teacher magazine

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