“Reflective practice is an integral component of a teacher’s classroom success” (Zeichner, 1996; Valli, 1997).
Educational researchers have long promoted the importance of reflecting on practice to support student learning and staff development. IRIS Connect now makes it possible for teachers to own the process, to reflect on teaching much more deeply and to better understand their impact on student learning in ways that previously weren’t possible.
Kamo Primary School began using IRIS Connect in 2019. Initially, Kamo bought IRIS Connect to enhance teacher professional learning in mathematics but have quickly extended the tool for all teachers across the school.
“It’s exactly what we wanted when we introduced it last year; for the staff to see that once you get past watching and hearing yourself and cringing, that you see how powerful it can be to capture your teaching, and see what changes you may need to make – to make you a better teacher for your students,” says Sally Wilson, Principal.
Now all teachers have the opportunity to utilise IRIS Connect, and the school are seeing significant, positive changes to teaching practice due to successful and consistent teacher reflections.
Sally says, “It’s not about how you look on camera it’s about your teaching and what impact you are having on your students in the classroom.”
By observing their own practice Kamo teachers are able to reflect on what is and what is not working in their classrooms.
We talk to some of the team at Kamo Primary; Principal Sally, Deputy Principal Brenda and teachers Renne, Jasmine, Michelle and Sharon and have identified 5 areas of success where reflections have begun, and continue to make an impact on teaching.
1. Distance learning
During the New Zealand COVID-19 lockdown, Kamo teachers began to use the screen capture tools to inform their practice. Having never taught remotely, or conducted a video lessons before, watching and reflecting on the distance learning lessons enabled tweaks and changes to be made for future lessons.
“Watching videos back has been really useful for planning, we had some crazy times during lockdown and it was really different to teach – being able to watch back a video when I needed to was really helpful.”
2. Confidence building in beginning teachers
Specifically, with new teachers it is important to review their teaching practice, however, often this puts additional stress on the teacher. IRIS Connect puts the teacher in control of the observation process, they record classroom practice themselves without the disruption and pressure caused by having another teacher in the classroom. Being able to securely review one’s own practice and control what is shared with others and to whom, has increased the amount of practice that can be observed and normalised the process. Beginning teachers are now comfortable being observed and having leadership teams in their rooms. “Now what we see when we visit them is real (not the anxious version of the teacher),” says Brenda, Deputy Principal.
Brenda observes that Kamo have a few beginning teachers in the school, and they know no other way but to reflect on their practice with IRIS Connect, which is really neat as it shows how they are going to move forward with their career. Through using IRIS Connect, they are becoming naturally reflective in their practice – it’s not just looking at what they have captured on a video, now in the moment they are realising what they are doing and then going and talking about it.
3. Understanding learner behaviours
Classroom observations have been deployed specifically to reflect on student behaviour. From behaviour management to student development plans – video observations pick up what could not be seen whilst teaching, providing perspective into learner behaviours that would otherwise be invisible. On playback, issues have been picked up regarding bullying, fine motor skill development, furniture placements and distractions. Teachers have been able to reflect on the behaviours in class and adapt, make changes or refine their teaching to better support the needs of their pupils.
4. Teaching practice
“One of the things I didn’t know I was doing was that I sit still too long and I need to move amongst the kids in a group situation more. Now, as soon as we are in that group situation, I get up and move,” says Sharon, Teacher.
Talking too much, not moving enough, and not asking the right questions. Reflections on teaching style are making Kamo teachers better. Being able to self-analyse teaching practices enables teachers to make changes and improvements to lessons, teaching activities, behaviours and even classroom layouts.
Often, as teacher you can’t be aware of everything you are doing (or not doing … or not seeing) until it’s right in front of you.
“We should embrace what we do and how we do it and not be afraid to look at ourselves and say ‘I need to change that’ or ‘I am really good at that’.”
Through video reflections, Kamo teachers are able to see everything that occurs in their classrooms on a daily basis, and make changes if they need to.
Brenda observes, “I have been able to see in a couple of classrooms quite clearly how teacher has changed their practice and it’s reflected in how the students responded to the work that they’ve been given.”
5. Impact Coaching
Sally says, “Coaching and supporting teacher development is really important in our school, which is why we have started using IRIS Connect in the impact coaching process.”
“IRIS Connect does not forget anything. It records exactly what happens, the beauty about that is the reflection is a genuine reflection – so you can’t say ‘I thought’ ‘I think’, the evidence is right there, so it allows are really clear and transparent reflection for the teacher. That has been one of the most powerful things I have observed. IRIS Connect lets us have really honest and productive conversations of areas of improvement for all teachers.”
More on Reflective Practice
Reflective practice is the act of teaching, self-assessing, learning afterwards, and making adjustments to improve learning – and then repeating the cycle over and over again.
Reflective practice aims to make you more aware of your own professional knowledge and action by “challenging assumptions of everyday practice and critically evaluating practitioners’ own responses to practice situations” (Finlay, 2008).
The reflective process also encourages teachers to work with others to share effective practice examples and draw on others for support. Ultimately, reflection ensures teaching is appropriately differentiated, individual learner needs are met, and learning is optimised.
Interested in creating a reflective culture in your school? Get in touch.
Read more about Reflection
There is one quality above all others that makes a good teacher: the ability to reflect on what, why, and how they do things and to adapt and develop their excellence in teaching. Download Your Practical Guide to: Enabling Effective Teacher Reflection to discover 6 benefits of reflection techniques, overcoming the challenges of teacher reflection, and how effective reflection works in a school setting.