By Christophe Mullings
Although video is a very powerful tool for self-reflection, it can also be used in many other ways to successfully drive teacher’s professional development and pupil learning.
The IRIS Connect global community of users have told us the many ways they use video as part of their professional learning to advance pupil learning. Here are just a few:
1. Supporting and empowering newly qualified teachers through reflection and live coaching
John Mulgrew, The East Manchester Academy, UK
During my first year of teaching, my professional mentor had suggested using IRIS Connect as she believed it was an excellent tool for not only improving my skill-set as a teacher but to achieve effective learning in the classroom. I felt anxious at the thought of having a camera recording my lesson, but through the help of my mentor, I grew in confidence in being willing to record and reflect upon my lessons.
After recording my first lesson using IRIS Connect, I then understood what an excellent piece of technology it was. I was able to use IRIS Connect to strengthen my areas of weakness as a classroom practitioner such as voice projection, pace, behaviour for learning and lesson structure.
Throughout my first year, I have been able to record lessons frequently, reflect upon lessons and improve my teaching so that I could achieve effective learning in my lessons. As a result of using IRIS Connect, I have been able to understand the importance of reviewing lessons to spot trends and plan for areas of weakness that will improve future lessons.
I have also had the amazing experience of being able to use IRIS Connect to watch lessons live and give/receive advice from other members of staff. I found this most useful in improving lessons during the ‘live’ delivery. This has not only helped to improve my teaching, but it maximized pupil learning almost instantly by avoiding obstacles and errors in lessons that would not have been avoided without the use of this outstanding piece of technology.
As I have fully completed my first year, I will progress having a high priority of using IRIS Connect on a daily basis. It is a tool that has helped my pupils to achieve excellent learning and helps me to be the best I can be. I would highly recommend IRIS Connect to any teacher, especially to new teachers like myself who doubt their ability. IRIS Connect has given me the confidence to inspire, engage and help pupils to achieve their best.
Christophe’s Comment: It’s certainly not uncommon for teachers to initially feel nervous about filming themselves for the purpose of their own development, especially newly qualified teachers who have so many things to contend when entering the profession. As John indicates here, those who take the plunge quickly reap the rewards and tend to find the experience very empowering, particularly when supported by a coach or mentor.
2. Video as a formative assessment tool: reflecting, adapting teaching and meeting learner needs
Using IRIS Connect has enabled me to get to know and understand the children in ways I could not have through standard observations.
In my Year 2 play-based classroom, I have often videoed children in their independent time to gain greater knowledge about their tendencies and interests. I have then used this information to plan future lessons and classroom provision to engage my class in our learning. Children that are not always confident to speak to (or around) adults and share their ideas are captured using IRIS Connect, meaning all of the children are heard.
For example, in a video I recorded, a group of quiet boys expressed an interest in sea creatures. Therefore, I enhanced areas in my classroom using this information, put out underwater paper borders, designed maths problems using sea creatures etc. This meant these boys were highly engaged and spent independent time writing stories which they wouldn’t have otherwise done.
Not only this but it has been a great assessment tool. On many occasions when videoing the children, I have discovered they can do things more confidently than I sometimes realise. For example, a child with EAL was captured counting in 5s in the construction area. However, when an adult was watching in person, she was often nervous thus didn’t always show her true potential. IRIS Connect has meant I have been able to see those children succeed and, in turn, move them forward in their learning by planning future sessions based on this knowledge. Without this tool, a teacher could easily assume that a child needs further support with something. Due to this video, I was confident I could move this girl forward and ensured future lessons were advancing her learning.
Christophe’s Comment: I love this use of IRIS Connect, as a great example of how the technology and platform can help teachers to better understand their pupils and where they are in their learning. In this case, the teacher was able to notice things they would have otherwise missed, adapt their teaching to better meet the needs of the children and improve pupil learning and engagement.
3. Improving middle management and mentoring
William Goldsmith, Latymer Upper School, UK
I have discovered that IRIS Connect is a great tool to help improve middle manager performance!
My Second in Department is currently mentoring a colleague new to the profession and, in a slightly mind-blowing way, he filmed himself giving feedback on an IRIS Connect filmed lesson that the trainee teacher had shared with him. Now clearly, it’s a given that watching a lesson you’ve taught is a powerful tool to improve teaching (and therefore pupil learning), but perhaps it’s less usual for managers to film themselves going about their work in helping other teachers to develop (and therefore improve pupil learning).
We also use this to film departmental meetings and training sessions. It might seem a long way away from advancing pupil learning, but if a mentor or Head of Department can get better at helping their colleagues to teach better, then pupil performance should improve with that.
Christophe’s Comment: A great example of how video technology can be used to capture all aspects of work for the purpose of knowledge sharing, professional development and improving practice. IRIS Connect is being used more and more as a tool within schools to support middle and senior leadership development, as well as in the corporate sector to help companies record meetings, interviews etc. and develop as learning organisations.
4. Using video to enable pupils to self-assess and accelerate learning
Gary Hawkins, Beech Hill Primary School, UK
Within my very large multicultural school in the heart of Luton, we have used IRIS Connect to empower pupil learning in reading. For example, when delivering a guided reading session, there were six pupils who set up IRIS Connect in order to assess their interaction and progress throughout the small group session to help them prepare for SATs. One pupil was a learning leader, who organised the equipment set up, and all six of them filmed themselves so that they could later see how they interacted in the learning session. Pupils were able to evaluate their own questioning and answering strengths, based on the retrieval and inference focus, and plan for themselves their own next steps in learning. The pupils made accelerated learning throughout the session and this has boosted confidence levels even further. Using IRIS Connect in this way truly ensured profound learning and has enabled them to take ownership of their learning.
Christophe’s Comment: This wonderful example really shows the potential for using IRIS Connect with pupils to enable them to reflect upon and take ownership of their learning. I especially like the possibility this approach has for helping to make teacher and pupil equal partners in learning.
5. Using video for behaviour management
I have used IRIS Connect to film myself teaching a class with disruptive pupils. The behaviour is low level but constant. I asked one specific student to watch it back with me and give feedback regarding what he thought about his behaviour. This gave my student an excellent perspective and it has had a significant effect on the way he acts in class. He also gave me some excellent feedback on my teaching style!
Christophe’s Comment: Teachers face low-level disruption quite often. Many teachers who use IRIS Connect to develop behaviour management strategies and indeed, there were a number of competition entries which made reference to this. However, we particularly liked this teacher’s example of the impact that can be had from including pupils in the reflection process as IRIS Connect provides a platform for teacher/pupil dialogue and feedback. Fantastic!
6. Supporting trainee teachers
Joe Burkmar, Poole High School, UK
I have enabled 16 trainee teachers to observe themselves, their classes and their communication. From this, the trainees reviewed their own lessons and commented on the way they delivered instruction, managed behaviour and taught content. They then planned a lesson from this to enable them to do this in a more effective way.
Christophe’s Comment: Many schools that have one of our whole-school packages overlook the fact that accounts can be set up at no extra cost for their trainee teachers and even their university-based tutor. As Joe mentions, using IRIS Connect with a cohort of trainee teachers can be an efficient and highly effective way to accelerate their development. A combination of both private self-reflection and collective reflection can also help bring teachers closer together and help to foster a professional learning culture based on trust, openness and collaboration.
7. Development of a simple but effective strategy to improve guided reading
Catherine Wales, Teacher Aide, RAF Benson Community Primary School, UK
Using IRIS Connect, I noticed that when I was running my guided reading sessions, the children didn’t seem to be engaged when it wasn’t their turn to read. I hadn’t been aware of this as I would be concentrating on the student who was reading. I then introduced a new strategy; if one of the group tapped the table, everyone had to say the word that the reader is on. This led to all of the children following the reading continuously and consequently, they now have more in-depth conversations regarding comprehension and varying styles of texts.
Christophe’s Comment: Some of the best users of IRIS Connect are teaching aide’s. It could be because they often tend to support a small group of children or an individual with a specific learning strategy. This means they are well placed to make important marginal gains by reflecting on and refining their approach. Catherine’s adaptation is simple but effective – which is what IRIS Connect is all about!
8. Noticing what works and changing what doesn’t
Abigail Lamond, Shire Oak Academy, UK
With IRIS Connect, I have realised I miss out a whole row of my classroom when teaching! Shock horror! So, I now move students around every half term and try my hardest to not focus on one area.
I was also able to recognise how teacher-led my lessons were. I now pose longer questions and allow students time to develop longer answers and develop them with each other.
However, I realised I’m actually doing some things right! To see some of the quieter kids really getting to grips with the topic and asking each other questions was very rewarding.
Christophe’s Comment: The thing we loved about this entry is that it shows how reflecting upon your teaching practice is as much about celebrating and sharing the things we’re getting right as it is about identifying areas for development. Seeing your pupils enjoy their learning and making real progress can be a real confidence booster.
9. Supporting newly qualified teacher practice development and pupil learning
Using IRIS Connect throughout my Year 8 science lessons helped me develop my practice and pupil learning in 3 major ways:
Firstly, IRIS Connect feedback provided me with an overview of behaviour and low-level disruption in my classroom. This allowed me to build a mental heat map of troublesome groups of students in my mind. As a result, this information influenced a new seating plan for the class, leading to improvements in behaviour by separating troublesome groups of students.
Secondly, as a newly qualified teacher, IRIS Connect allowed me to fine-tune the pace and direction of my lessons. Using the iPad cameras, I was able to pick up on very subtle changes in the attention of the class. I found this mainly occurred during teacher lead learning of more than 10 minutes. As a result, I altered my planning to split lessons, organising a routine of teacher talk, activity, teacher talk, activity to keep students engaged in lessons for longer.
Finally, using IRIS Connect has allowed me to spot specific students struggling with a recent Acid and Alkali topic. During a revision lesson, I took these students as a group of 5 to give better 1 to 1 support. The visual feedback I gained from the lessons I recorded with IRIS Connect made it clear that the students were either struggling or failing to focus during the group of lessons. This provided me with information to support them with a short, but effective intervention session.
Christophe’s Comment: We had so many entries from newly qualified teachers that we felt it only fair to include one more. Teachers in their first year need all the support and help they can get when starting out and we’re so proud to be able to help the likes of this teacher find their feet.
10. Developing a collaborative, professional learning culture to improve children’s learning
Helen Leyland, Lidget Green Primary School, UK
We’ve had an absolutely fabulous year with IRIS Connect. As a school, we have been able to complete many focused evaluations of ourselves and our colleagues with IRIS Connect (led by our Teaching and Learning Coordinator) before using the recordings to identify what we needed to improve on.
This has brought many staff closer together through sharing our ‘would be better ifs’ but also our ‘good practice’. It has had a positive effect on our teaching by allowing us to delve into the questioning that we use, how we use differentiation and how we challenge pupils in this fast-paced profession – which usually doesn’t allow for specific, focused feedback and self-reflection. This has improved children’s learning because staff are more open to trying new ways of teaching by constantly learning from, and working with, other professionals.
Christophe’s Comment: When schools invest in IRIS Connect, they aren’t just buying new technology, they’re often embracing a whole new collaborative, teacher-led approach to professional learning and school improvement. As such, our technology often serves as a driver for a school culture based on trust and openness. Thank you, Helen!
11. Supporting individual pupils with special educational needs
Through using IRIS Connect, I have been able to identify key areas for improvement in my own teaching style. I have also been able to identify how to help a certain autistic child in my class by observing him in a variety of different environments and learning experiences. This has allowed me to provide him with the support he needs when he needs it most.
Christophe’s Comment: Most teachers tend to record and reflect upon their lessons as a whole. However, this example shows IRIS Connect is a powerful tool for targeting specific pupils in order to better meet their needs. Once this is achieved, teachers then have a fantastic and valuable resource to share with others teaching the same pupil.
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