Teacher Talk

'We have done massage and pilates, which can help with teachers' general well-being'
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The Independent Online

Emma Wilkinson presents 'Ease the Load' - an advisory segment on the new 24-hour digital channel, Teachers' TV. Funded by the Department for Education and Skills, Teachers' TV is the first channel in Europe to focus on one profession. When not filming, Emma is a supply teacher in Birmingham

What is the aim of 'Ease the Load'?

It's an easy-to-digest 15-minute bitesize chunk designed to take the stresses and strains out of teaching. We've done voice coaching, cures for headaches and other health issues, and how to achieve a work/life balance with all the marking and planning to do. There are also IT packages for report writing, which is really helpful, especially at this time of year.

Do you give any tips on how to improve a school in general?

We focus mainly on teachers, but we also discuss improving the environment of the school and the positive effect that it has on teachers. Revamping the staff room, for example. We have done massage and pilates, to help with general well-being. The masseuse worked with some children, too, because calming them down obviously makes life easier for the teacher.

How does the show illustrate teaching methods?

One way is an article called "Classroom Observation". We go to a secondary school, where a classroom cupboard has been turned into a room with a two-way mirror. Behind the mirror the head observes a new teacher giving a lesson. They video the session and then watch it together and give tips on how to improve.

How do the teachers feel about being filmed?

I was sceptical at first, thinking that the teachers would be put off. But I spoke to some newly qualified teachers (NQTs) who said that it was really helpful, especially since the students weren't aware of the head's presence, so weren't on their best behaviour. It's been a real eye-opener for me, actually. I've seen a lot of good practices, which has helped with my own teaching, too.

Do you think the show actually helps?

Teachers often don't get to see any other way of doing things except their own. They can just take snatches of an idea that we discuss and use it. It's even more useful if you're an NQT because then you're trying to take on as many ideas as you can. The magazine style of the channel means that a teacher could highlight one show each week and think "that's really relevant to me" - ideas about literacy or creative learning, say - and then see 15 minutes of how others approach it.

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