This is a blog about setting up @IRIS_Connect in your school.
I remember in 1997, using the power of a video-recorder, I first was given the opportunity to watch myself teach. It was a good 6 or 7 years later before the opportunity popped up again for me to film myself as a young middle leader. This became frequent until the costs and the technology made it time-consuming to maintain. Five years later, I then discovered IRIS Connect in 2008, via the omnipotent Teachers TV Behaviour Guru @JohnBayley1, who offered remote and in-ear coaching with me and a number of colleagues to produce a range of films for the television programme.
The opportunity to test and film myself in the classroom once more was too good an offer to pass by. It was seamless, quick, and developmental. Today, I now have the option to do this weekly. I even recall over the Christmas period, logging in to my account (securely) from home, to watch carefully, minute-by-minute, how I delivered a recent year 9 lesson. It was a true moment of reflection that we are often restricted from having the time ‘to-do in school.’
Observing yourself teach is transformational!
There are so many benefits for using video for CPD, and having now been a user of IRIS for 7 years, in this blog I offer some ways you can establish the IRIS Connect system within your school.
Introduce the Idea:
If teachers don’t fully understand the benefits of using IRIS Connect, or why it’s being introduced into their school, then they’re less likely to get involved. Make sure everyone is clear about your school’s aims for using IRIS Connect from the outset. This is vital. At my new school, we have a long way to go with this, due to our new building work, this has put our plans to introduce IRIS back somewhat …
Enhance Conversations with Actions:
Demonstrate how the system works to teachers. If they don’t understand the feedback or teaching practice that you’re explaining then show them. So far, I have managed to show all staff 2 or 3 clips in our weekly CPD sessions, and even further footage in one-to-one discussions. Two colleagues have been charged with IRIS and we hope that in the summer, all staff will have been introduced to the system and will have started to trial using the software and equipment.
Play with the System:
Rather than explaining what IRIS Connect is and what teachers can achieve with the system, it’s much more effective to encourage teachers to go away and have a go with it for themselves.
Having ‘playtime’ with IRIS Connect either individually, in pairs, triads or groups, can help teachers get used to the system and reassure any worries they might have about using video or seeing themselves on camera.
Spread the Word:
Once your school has a few teachers who are happy with IRIS Connect, encourage them to show others how they are using the system, especially any teachers who were perhaps more reluctant at the start. A powerful way to introduce IRIS Connect to new teachers is through spreading positive testimonies and tips.
Instead of coming from the headteacher, your teachers telling each other about IRIS Connect means that the message about what the system really is becomes clear. After all, it’s a development tool for teachers to use to help improve their own practice and not a method of controlling or judging teaching.
Establish a Learning Cycle:
It’s important that teachers understand that to improve, they first need to know what they do. Acknowledging strengths can sometimes be harder than identifying weakness. If you can show teachers that using IRIS Connect to record their lessons allows them to gain a complete picture of what they do well, whilst also recognising any areas that have room for improvement, this can be the tipping point for all teachers to ‘become even better.’
You could set IRIS Connect up in your school by encouraging some light competitiveness, perhaps sharing which teacher or department has used IRIS Connect most in one particular week or month. This can appeal to your teachers’ competitive natures and encourage them to use the system more frequently. I know Matt McDonald at Balby Carr Community Academy has been particularly outstanding at delivering this model and sharing this type of information with others. You can watch some of their staff testimonials here.
Shout out by clicking this link …
Shout … about the power of sharing and collaboration. The IRIS Connect system allows your school to build libraries of best practice clips. These can be used as good examples for NQTs or for any teachers who just want to see an instance of good practice in a particular area. Encourage teachers who excel in a certain aspect of their teaching to share their videos with the rest of the school, this will build their confidence in their ability, as well as providing a useful resource for their peers.
For more ideas on how to introduce the IRIS Connect system within your school, have a read of these 5 tips for successfully introducing video CPD. You can also make sure you and your colleagues get the most out of the technology, using the Teaching is Learning (TisL) programme to support its use in your school. There is an excellent document here; ‘How to Identify your Pathfinders’ to encourage departments to self-curate their own agenda.
In the lesson:
You can also view a 3 minute video of my own below. The context of this class, is that they have just started a small group activity to construct a small item to wear from an A4 piece of aluminium. This is a gentle introduction into the properties of non-ferrous and ferrous metals. This is so that they can understand the constraints of the materials when designing body adornment ideas, leading onto form their own practical work from a range of metals.
This will be the students’ last technology ‘experience’ in the subject before they continue with their option choices in year 10. This is lesson 4 on a Monday, just before lunch. The time allocated for the practical activity is about to come to an end – they have had 3 minutes in total – and before I lead into the feedback session, I attempt to address a student eating chewing gum in the classroom. We are approximately 10 minutes into the lesson.
This is a small snippet of how teacher’s could manage low-level behaviour, keeping in check with school expectations and the behaviour policy. You can analyse (2m 07 secs) my body posture; continual finger pointing to gesture the location of the bin; my continued conversation with the class, to detract focus from the student. All these small observations can be logged by the teacher (in hindsight) or by the observer watching the live footage …
Reflection Questions for Observations:
Some of the following questions can be added onto a template (within IRIS) to be used for observation prompts for the (online) observer;
- Do you consistently have high expectations for all students?
- Is intervention sharply focused and matched to need?
- Do you create clever transitions between tasks?
- How do you know when to speak and when to pause?
- How do you continue the lesson without creating a further focus on primary behaviour?
- How do you use body language; hand signals and position to follow-up instruction?
- How does the teacher gently use physical gestures to encourage students to engage?
- Is the first hint of off-task behaviour dealt with?
- How do you approach eating in class?
- Is any form of teacher-reprimand escalated by other students in the class?
- Is your approach to behaviour management consistent and systematic?
Attitudes to Learning:
- Do students demonstrate high levels of engagement, courtesy, collaboration and cooperation?
- Is praise genuine and purposeful?
- Are students given independence and responsibility?
- Does learning proceed without interruption?
Related: Here is a blog which looks at the video footage in much more detail – Lesson Reflection and Review – with a video snippet.
If you think that IRIS Connect has transformed your own teaching, click this link.