Teachers TV

I’ve dipped in and out of Teachers TV for a few years, and have used some of their excellent video resources when looking for something a bit different for some lessons – though their reliance on the .wmv format, combined with the six-years old version of MS Office installed by default on machines made this difficult to embed into PowerPoint-driven lectures.

Recently, I’ve watched it more as a resource to see if there is anything there which can help improve my own teaching.

Teachers TV is clearly aimed at primary and secondary teachers who are at the chalkface, sometimes in some very difficult and challenging environments.  The vast majority of the teachers shown appear to cope well with whatever’s thrown at them… though I’ve not yet seen a PC projector failure, or a reluctant photocopier which refuses to print an activity minutes before the class is about to start.

The question I ask myself though, is this just a ‘posh’ form of reality tv, or is there something which lecturers in Higher Education (or even post-compulsory education) can learn from these programmes?  Specifically, what can I take from these ‘inspirational’ teachers, other than to spot that most male teachers seem to wear ties with huge knots in them (if nothing else, this is the one thing which will date some of these programmes).

I think the answer so far for me is yes, maybe.  Nothing like being certain there then!

There are some items such as self-evaluation, which I could incorporate into my own teaching, though the use of smilies to rate my post-graduate students may not go down too well.  One thing which I used to use, but in recent years have ‘forgot’ to do, is to make sure that there are learning objectives for each session, which could be used as a self-evaluation checklist at the end of the session.

There’s also a strong emphasis on praising individual students in a ‘classroom’ environment.  This has to be balanced however, especially as so much of our teaching is related to summative assessment.  I can see a scenario where (for example) I praise a student in class, then that student fails the module and they come back to me and say ‘but you said I was doing so well’.  This is something I need to work on however, and I think a balance needs to be struck

Finally, there’s a lot of discussion on Teachers TV about the National Curriculum.  Higher Education doesn’t have a single curriculum, but the QAA do publish benchmarks for most of the individual disciplines.  I’ve become more familiar with the benchmarks for Computing due to the recent validation events within the faculty.  Maybe these should be made more transparent to students, so that they can see that the subjects chosen, and the module learning outcomes, aren’t just arbitarily picked by the staff in the School.

Phew, deep stuff for early on a Sunday morning.  If nothing else, Teachers TV makes me think, which is a lot more than most TV does.


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