Tag Archives | Coaching and Mentoring

Using video technology to support teacher development in Thailand


By using the IRIS Connect professional development programme, Film Club, The British Council is successfully training staff and supporting teacher development in English as a foreign language across the country.

support teacher development



With English seen as central to economic development across ASEAN, combined with evidence that English proficiency in Thailand falls behind comparable countries, the Thai Government initiated fundamental reform of English teaching, including a commitment to provide 3-week intensive training to all English teachers. The MoE contracted the British Council to provide this in-service training for 15,000 Thai primary and secondary teachers of English. To ensure the training translated into sustained engagement and impact on classroom practice, the British Council commissioned IRIS Connect to pilot the use of a video-based e-mentoring system at scale to support teacher development.


How IRIS Connect helped

Teachers underwent a three-week INSET course in Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) at the Regional English Training Centres (RETC). For the pilots, 10 mentors/e-moderators worked with 560 teachers to provide blended online and face-to-face mentoring. An IRIS Connect professional development programme called Film Club, was tailored to the local Thai context of the Thai teachers, enabling reflection and collaborative learning.

As part of the British Council’s Education Gateway tender process, IRIS Connect was selected as a potential partner to work collaboratively on British Council projects. This enabled the British Council to quickly sub-contract with IRIS for RETC, which saw the British Council deliver training and manage the mentors/e-moderators, while IRIS Connect supplied the technology and the Film Club framework for the video-based approach to professional learning.



Despite initial resistance to new video-based methods of learning, the project received high levels of participation and demonstrated real impact. The collaboration between IRIS Connect and British Council showed that video technology, combined with discussions through the Film Club model, can be used at scale to help teachers to collaborate with colleagues, develop reflective practise and build a shared understanding about what really works in the classroom.

Read the full research paper on Evaluating the Role of Video in Supporting Reflection Beyond INSET.


Find out more:

IRIS Connect platform

IRIS Connect is a secure, personalised platform for teachers to record, analyse and reflect on their practice.

Teachers can take control and arrange their own professional learning experiences and resources. As well as share easily with each other to make collaboration simple, organised and effective.

Find out more Request a demo


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Strong Coaching Culture


Embedding a sustainable coaching culture


What began as an initiative in 2010 to improve the quality of teaching and learning at Oak Hill Academy, quickly became the means to build a sustainable coaching culture, moving teaching from 50% good, to 100% good and 25% outstanding by 2014.

In 2019, almost 9 years on from their initial purchase, Oak Hill Academy continues to work with IRIS Connect to achieve great success. They now have 80% of teachers at good or better. Those not yet good are NQTs or teachers new to the school, who are on track to be graded as good by the Summer term.

“We continue to use IRIS Connect because it’s the most effective and impactful resource in a short amount of time – teachers are usually given a couple of weeks maximum to show improvements since their last observations. IRIS Connect is a way of recording and reflecting on the areas for improvement, holding up a mirror to their practice so they see what the observer sees and measure their own improvements.” – Lisa Middleton-Clifton, Assistant Principal


A visit from Ofsted in 2010 left staff at Oak Hill Academy feeling deflated and with a target to make at least 75% of teaching good. So the Principal at the time, Mandy Lancy began looking for ways to rapidly boost morale and standards. After doing some research, video for professional development seemed the obvious tool to employ, but she was concerned that staff would be apprehensive and reluctant to use it. She needed to find a system that would allow teachers to feel secure and safe because they’d have control over their videos.


How IRIS Connect helped

IRIS Connect instantly caught the eye of the SLT, and soon after adopting it the school started to see some great results, “It’s significantly impacted the teachers’ development, by boosting not only their skills but their confidence too,” said Mandy.

Once IRIS Connect was firmly embedded, the school decided to move their CPD up a notch and embarked on a 6 month remote and live coaching programme. With the help of Education Consultant, Mike Fleetham, teachers focused on specific areas of personal development and used remote coaching to insert new techniques in to their practice straight away, having an almost immediate effect on the learners.

After seeing considerable improvements in the teachers’ practice, Mike then began training some of them to become coaches themselves, so when he left the school they could sustain their own coaching programme.

Over the past few years the school have continued with the in-ear coaching program and use it both in their school and with their sister Academy, Oriel because: “We find that removing the senior member of staff from the classroom provides a truer reflection of the behaviour etc. in the classroom and therefore more timely and effective strategies can be put in place,” explains Lisa.

The school have also come to use IRIS Connect in a variety of ways. All staff ‘IRIS’ themselves half termly (minimum). Coaching INSETs are booked in one per half term and lessons recorded using IRIS Connect are a focal point of this. It’s also a key component of the schools NQT induction programme, as well as a way to share best practice within school meetings and with other academies in the Aspirations Academy Trust.


Results, return on investment and future plans

Since 2010 Oak Hill Academy have built a sustainable coaching programme, they’ve also exceeded Ofsted’s target to make 75% of teaching good. Their team now comprises of 80% of teachers at good or better. Those not yet good are NQTs or teachers new to the school, who are on track to be graded as good by the Summer term.

They have, and continue to, increase the capacity of their lead coaches: “We have built a strong coaching culture with IRIS Connect at the heart of it,” says Lisa. “Lead coaches love it. It helps them to do their jobs and improve the quality of teaching and learning in a varied way.”

Relationships among staff and pupils have been strengthened, teachers have gained new skills and become more confident, newer teachers are learning from old hands and vice versa. All helping to grow an open door culture and ethos of sharing and collaboration amongst staff.

“IRIS Connect has been an impactful tool for CPD and one which our staff have embraced; staff are willing to share their good practice to help each other to develop,” explains Rachel Saim, Principal of Oak Hill Academy. “It’s part of our everyday practice here at Oak Hill for improving both the quality of teaching across the school as well as Teachers’ and Teaching Assistants’ confidence. The in-ear coaching has been one of the most effective and efficient tools for improving the quality of teaching across our school.”

Lisa adds: “We would love to continue to evolve the use of IRIS Connect at Oak Hill and to be a school that champions it.”


Find out more:

IRIS Connect platform

IRIS Connect is a secure, personalised platform for teachers to record, analyse and reflect on their practice.

Teachers can take control and arrange their own professional learning experiences and resources. As well as share easily with each other to make collaboration simple, organised and effective.

Find out more Request a demo

Get more information about IRIS Connect:


“It’s the most powerful CPD tool I’ve used in my 20 years of teaching and my experience of using it has been positive in a number of ways; it’s strengthened my relationship with my class, developed aspects of my teaching and empowered me as a coach and mentor.” Sarah Boldero, Year 6 Team Leader

“Teachers have to keep up with the rolling changes that happen termly and IRIS Connect is quick efficient and helpful with that. Thanks to the system, when I have my formal observation ow, I’m able to block out the person with a notepad because I’ve seen my lesson from their point of view and feel confident in my abilities.” Elise Mason, Year 6 Teacher

Watch this video to hear from the teachers back when we first visited them in 2013:












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Increasing coaching capacity with IRIS Connect

Educational Service Center Region 11, Texas (US)

Educational Service Center Region 11 in Texas has been using IRIS Connect to dramatically increase the capacity of their instructional coaching program. Teela Watson, Former Director of Instructional Services & Digital Learning for Region 11, reflects on their experience using IRIS Connect in this interview.

Why did ESC 11 decide to adopt video-based PD?

“We decided to adopt video-based PD because it enabled us to scale our coaching to service more districts. We could never hire enough people to physically be in all 77 of our school districts. That would not be financially feasible for our organization. By utilizing IRIS Connect, we can multiply the number of coaching sessions we can provide dramatically. Also, we know that research says the most effective professional development is job-embedded and includes continual feedback. So we wanted to use the very best solution to build the capacity of our teachers to improve their practice.”

Describe how your organization uses IRIS Connect.

“We have coaching contracts with seven districts — but I only have five coaches. The coach first builds a relationship with teachers and then asks if they would consider using an IRIS Connect camera system so that they can be coached when they choose rather than when we show up. We typically coach 12 teachers in a district at a time. We do it on a volunteer basis and we are finding that 50% of teachers are immediately willing to use the video cameras. These teachers report that, by using the cameras, it’s less distracting to the students in the classroom than if there’s another person in the classroom. We have absolutely seen a change.”

Were your staff skeptical or hesitant? How did you overcome that?

“Even though we work with consultants who are experts in their field and who all have some training (most of it from Jim Knight) there’s still hesitancy for them to be videotaped. In order to encourage teachers to use video coaching, each of our consultants did showcases. In these showcases, they coached for 10 minutes in a scenario with a live actor and then presented 10 minutes of an engaging professional development activity and we used IRIS Connect to video-coach them. By putting video-based coaching into practice in our own building, with our consultants, we can talk about it with our districts and they can know we’ve had the exact same experience.”

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced?

“I think our greatest challenge is also a very exciting one. It’s a problem, but a good one to have. Once we started using IRIS Connect, teachers wanted to film themselves more and more often. We ended up increasing our workload a tremendous amount. When we coach face-to-face, we do about 20 classroom visits a year. With video coaching, we have found that they want an in-person session and then 10-15 more video sessions. IRIS Connect allows our teachers to get coached 35-40 times. The good news, we don’t have to physically drive out to our districts. Some of our districts are 90 minutes away.”

The return on our investment in IRIS Connect is absolutely invaluable.

“We are able to scale to a much larger size. I’m able to coach twice as many schools with half as many people. That has been amazing. Human capital is my most expensive budget expense. IRIS Connect has prevented me from having to hire more consultants. A consultant, by the time I pay salary, benefits, equipment, and indirect costs is around $110,000 per employee. I can buy an incredible number of IRIS Connect licenses and camera kits for that same amount of money. It has been an amazing return on my investment. I have saved money in terms of salary, travel, and time.

I highly encourage other Education Service Agencies to consider this model. In districts, it’s rare that you have enough instructional coaches to coach all the teachers in your district on a regular basis. Using IRIS Connect you can absolutely be coaching many more times throughout the year.”

Get more information about IRIS Connect:

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Announcing live coaching using the Discovery Kit

Drum roll, please… We’re excited to announce our latest innovation that allows the Discovery Kit to be used for live coaching, remote lesson observations and ITE. “Go Live combines the best features of static and live video coaching. It’s flexible, a dream to set up, and vastly increases the effectiveness and efficiency of the IRIS Connect […]

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Engaging and motivating Pupil Premium Grant pupils

Teachers help 100 % of PPG pupils reach end of year targets

Claire Chester is a Year 7 leader at Newman College in Oldham. She recently got in touch to tell us about how her, and her colleagues, have been using IRIS Connect’s lesson observation and in-ear coaching tools over the past two terms, to improve the quality of Pupil Premium Grant (PPG) pupils speaking, listening and writing skills.


IRIS Connect: What challenges were you facing?

Claire: We were struggling to understand what motivated and engaged our PPG pupils. We also needed a more effective way to experiment with different strategies and see the results in order to close the gap.


IRIS Connect: How did IRIS Connect help?

Claire: We chose IRIS Connect as our solution because it enabled us to focus on particular pupils and observe their learning behaviours during lessons. IRIS Connect tools were particularly useful as we were able to analyse lessons. We determined how many higher order thinking skills questions these pupils were asked during each session filmed. Then using the in-ear coaching tool, we were able to see different strategies in action, further develop classroom dialogue and advise each other, in the moment, on which ones to use with different pupils.

In-ear coaching also has had a very positive impact on pupil performance; pupils enjoyed the experience of their teachers working collaboratively, with a focus on their learning and progress, and pupils received personalised feedback both during these sessions and afterwards. Through the use of IRIS Connect we were able to share the clips with members of the Teaching and Learning Strategy Team and also use during CPD sessions.


IRIS Connect: What impact have you seen so far?

Claire: The attention pupils received through their teachers working collaboratively across subjects had a great impact on their learning. Pupils made rapid progress and the quality of their written work improved substantially leading to an increased number reaching their end of year targets. The project has also influenced positively on other groups of pupils in the class, because we’ve been able to develop strategies to stretch and engage them all.

Over time, pupils have grown in confidence as well. We regularly asked them to present their work to the class, as well as take part in a range of speaking activities, which were filmed, and they said they enjoyed.

What we really like about IRIS Connect is the ability it gives us to capture engaging activities and good practice that we can share easily with the Teaching and Learning group and English Faculty, so we have extensive plans to use IRIS Connect in the future. Including:

  • Filming classes that some teachers are having success with and others are struggling with, so we can all observe what Behaviour for Learning strategies work with different groups.
  • Develop the English Faculty resources in IRIS Connect, by adding a full range of clips on pedagogy and practice, Assessment for Learning , Kagan, Blooms strategies etc.
  • Continue our work with middle and lower ability PPG pupils.

What is IRIS Connect?

IRIS Connect platform
IRIS Connect is a secure, personalised place for teachers to record, analyse and reflect on their practice.

Teachers can take control and arrange their own professional learning experiences and resources. As well as share easily with each other to make collaboration simple, organised and effective.

Platform Packages


Impact summary

Encouraging pupil premium grant (PPG) pupils to participate in lessons and improve the quality of their speaking, listening and writing skills in order to close the gap.

  • All pupils’ attitudes to learning improved from progress check one to progress check four
  • The quality of work produced by the target cohort improved across a range of subjects
  • At the start of the project, none of this target group were expected to meet their target grades. By the end of the year, 100% of these pupils reached their end of year target, with one exceeding their expected level
  • Pupils confidence notably improved

What do pupils at Newman College think about IRIS Connect? Find out…



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Supporting a third of Denmark’s trainee teachers with video CPD

VIA University College, Denmark

In a unique research project, a third of Denmark’s trainee teachers were given access to remote support from tutors at VIA University College using IRIS Connect.

Watch this short video for a quick overview or read the full case study below.

The research project

One third of all teachers in Denmark graduate through VIA’s bachelor degree programme for teacher education. The ‘Experts in Teaching’ project looked at supporting trainees over 2 years to develop their practice through “micro teaching” and research.

What is Micro-teaching? Micro-teaching is a technique whereby the teacher reviews a recording of a teaching session, in order to get constructive feedback from peers about what has worked and what improvements can be made to their practice.

The research included students:

  • Documenting their own practice
  • Observing their own practice
  • Getting peers and teachers to observe their practice
  • Sharing their new insights with peers and teachers and in turn learning from their peers’ and teachers’ insights (knowledge sharing)
  • Establishing communities of practice
  • Developing through micro-teaching and feedback

“IRIS Connect is such a powerful tool. We found that once students started recording themselves they actually got into the habit of doing it and more importantly, they wanted to do it. They were more than happy to share videos with us, using the editing tool to select key moments which gave us more time to look at them.”

Identifying areas for improvement

The trainees started by using video to reflect on their teaching and identify an area for improvement. They would then research different strategies and techniques to try before recording themselves again and repeating the process.

“If we imposed a focus then it wouldn’t be their research. We needed to let their practice determine what they would concentrate on trying to improve,” explains Project Leader Annemette Heine Wullum.

“We said to the students from the very start that this project was not about best practice but about making their practice better. Because, what is best practice?”

analysis tools (2)

The power of lesson analysis and research

One of the primary areas where the students used IRIS Connect was on their six week placements, where they could video themselves as many times as they liked and use the tools within the IRIS Connect platform to analyse what they saw and share.

“On most placements, students worked together in groups sharing and discussing the videos among themselves to get feedback,” says Annemette.

“IRIS Connect is such a powerful tool. We found that once students started recording themselves they actually got into the habit of doing it and more importantly, they wanted to do it. They were more than happy to share videos with us, using the editing tool to select key moments which gave us more time to look at them.

She continues; “The video recordings and data processing tools have opened the  students’ eyes to aspects of their teaching that they did not notice before. That’s why the process of analysing the video afterwards is so important. The tools in IRIS Connect helped them to get deep analysis of what they actually did and then see how they could improve on the basis of their research.”

Frits Hedegaard Eriksen, a lecturer involved in the project, agrees: “It’s not the videoing of themselves that makes them think deeper, it’s the analysis of the videos that does and I think that has been a great success. Our trainees use the tools in IRIS Connect very sophisticatedly so they are dealing with data instead of stories to discuss and improve their teaching.”

“The video recordings and data processing tools have opened the  students’ eyes to aspects of their teaching that they did not notice before. That’s why the process of analysing the video afterwards is so important. The tools in IRIS Connect helped them to get deep analysis of what they actually did and then see how they could improve on the basis of their research.”

Exploring triangulated teacher development

With the project at an end, Frits and Annemette are now encouraging more students to make use of IRIS Connect.

“We’re going to see if we can use the recordings from placements next year in what we call a three party conversation with the teacher trainer, student teacher and the placement teacher,” explains Annemette.

“It’s a triangle learning situation which we have had for many years but very rarely have we used video as part of those conversations so we’re going to explore how that could work. And the Group functionality in IRIS Connect is really good for this because it means we can share videos with people outside our own community.”

supporting trainee teachers

Supporting a wider range of education programmes

Due to the success of the initial project, VIA University have decided to roll out IRIS Connect’s video-based training and professional development technology across all 8 of their campuses, extending its use to support a wider range of their education programmes.

With focus on applied sciences and participating in various research and development projects, they see IRIS Connect as a powerful tool supporting them in their mission to be a leading educational institution in Denmark and internationally.


Get a free demo. 

Request a quick online demo or arrange a time for us to meet face-to-face and discover how our secure platform goes beyond simple lesson recording, providing you and your colleagues with intuitive tools for video reflection and collaboration, plus unrivalled resources written by experts like you.

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Improving lecturers’ professional learning and PhD research

Cindy Kuiper is Communication Lecturer and PhD Student at Saxion University of Applied Sciences in The Netherlands. Cindy shares how she’s been using IRIS Connect as part of her PhD research on writing skills in Dutch higher education.

pasfotoCindyKuiper200516 (1)


Why did you choose to work with IRIS Connect?

Cindy: My PhD research is focused on improving first-year students’ writing development. Subject lecturers deliver content-based writing instruction during lessons which I then analyse. These subject lecturers have to be trained beforehand.  When I heard about IRIS Connect and the possibilities it could offer me in facilitating the subject lecturer training, I was very excited. Especially by the user-friendliness and time synchronous recordings.


How have you used IRIS Connect?

Cindy: Each week, for about a year, I have recorded one hour lessons taken by two subject lecturers involved in my research. After each lesson, I view the recordings in full length, reflecting on them from the point of view of a researcher and a trainer. I add comments to good and poor examples of embedding writing during the lessons and then invite the subject lecturer to go through them with me in what’s called, a “stimulated recall interview”. The process is as follows:

  • At the beginning I ask the subject lecturer to share his/her general impression of the lesson with me.
  • I then show them 5 to 7 clips of the lesson where their writing instruction is good or needs improvement.
  • After each clip, I ask them to describe what they see and how they think it can help or hinder students improving their writing skills.
  • Then, we discuss why some activities work well and others don’t. We also discuss how the subject lecturer can improve his/her writing instruction in the next lesson.
  • After having shown all the clips, the interview concludes with me asking the subject lecturer again to share his/her overall impression of the lesson.


What have you achieved by using IRIS Connect?

Cindy: Both subject lecturers were excited about the use of IRIS Connect when we first began the lesson recordings. They discovered, after a number of stimulated recall interviews, how helpful it was to view the recordings of their lessons. It made them more aware of what happened in their lessons and what impact they, and their instruction had on the students.

Both lecturers also admitted to having a more positive feeling about the lessons and themselves as lecturers after watching the recordings.

As a researcher, IRIS Connect has helped me to easily analyse the subject lecturers practice, seamlessly facilitate the stimulated recall interviews and drive the subject lecturers professional development forwards, while conducting my own research at the same time.

What is IRIS Connect?

IRIS Connect on desktop and tablet


IRIS Connect is a secure, personalised place for teachers to record, analyse and reflect on their practice.

Teachers can take control and arrange their own professional learning experiences and resources. As well as share easily with each other to make collaboration simple, organised and effective.

Get a demo




Get more information about IRIS Connect:


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Bring your professional learning to life with IRIS Connect film clubs.

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Creating coaching capacity with video

West Hills STEM Academy, Washington (US)

Teachers and coaches at West Hills STEM Academy in Bremerton, Washington have been using IRIS Connect video technology to transform their professional development process. Assistant Principal Andrea Tee shares a few insights from their journey:

Why did West Hills STEM Academy decide to adopt video-based professional development?

​”We have a large staff and one instructional coach. Often, the instructional coach is requested to support during the same time in multiple classrooms. It is not possible for this to happen! The video-based professional development program helps to mitigate this problem as she can now be in more than one place at once.”

How do educators at West Hills use IRIS Connect?

“​Educators at West Hills STEM Academy use IRIS Connect in a variety of ways, determined by their individual needs for professional development and support. ​Some use it to target a specific skill they have selected to work on and reflect privately or in collaboration with the instructional coach. Some share their videos within their Grade Level PLCs to talk about practices and connections to the curriculum and its implementation. Others use it to share with their evaluator to talk about their growth in connection with the CEL5D instructional framework. ​Some even use it for the purpose of reflecting and improving classroom management.”

Have you seen changes in the culture of professional learning?

​”Staff seem less hesitant about opening up their practice – to their peers, their evaluators, and even the general public. They have a better sense of what is occurring in the school, feel more connected to the experiences of their peers, and have increased ownership in our common agreements and school-wide professional development goals.”​

Were staff initially hesitant? How were you able to overcome that?

​”Staff were initially hesitant. Capitalizing on the bravery of the early adopters and then allowing additional adopters the options to participate in the Video Professional Development in a format that was still within their zone of proximal development has increased teacher buy-in to the program. A strong emphasis on privacy and protecting that privacy has also been very helpful – to the point that our staff are fully comfortable with sharing amongst their teams and are not concerned about what their evaluator sees.”

What tools or resources have you found most helpful in using video for professional learning?

“Clear protocols using targeted feedback – strengths-based, actionable, and evidence-based – provide a focused and safe environment for interacting with the video. It creates a culture of trust that opens up the practice and avoids the pitfall of criticism and comparison.”

How have your teachers/coaches/students benefitted?

Things teachers have said:

“I found it useful both for self-reflection as well as getting a better picture into what groups were doing/how they were interacting when I wasn’t nearby. It was a great way to record student discourse that I didn’t always get to hear.”

“Increased my focus on a topic. I don’t like being watched but after a while I forgot the camera was there so my teaching was more natural and felt like it was an opportunity to get genuine professional feedback without worrying about someone sitting in my room. Watching the video helped me reflect on practices other than just my focus topic.”

“It’s helped me see where I spend most of my focus/attention during my lessons.”

“Students get to evaluate themselves and actually see their form for different skills vs thinking they know what they did.”

“As a coach, it has allowed me to be in more places at one time, helping to support more teachers in what they need. The direct benefit to me is time.”

Do you find that using video for PD increases PD efficiency and effectiveness of professional learning at West Hills?

“Yes, not only is it efficient, but it can be individualized to meet the needs and areas of growth for a specific educator.”

What advice, tips, or recommendations would you offer to other educators considering adopting IRIS Connect?

“A strong, collaborative, safe and trusting environment is the #1 essential piece to have in place for adoption of the IRIS connect to be successful.

  • Set up a structure to support teachers with the basics of the technology.
  • Adopt clear protocols that can flex to an individual teacher’s needs.
  • Obtain background and training in targeted feedback – strengths-based, evidence-based, and actionable.”

Desiree Hall

Desiree, teacher and coach at West Hills STEM Academy, explains her transition from traditional coaching to video-based coaching. Through the use of video, Desiree multiplies her coaching impact among colleagues. Hear her story below.

To learn more about West Hills STEM Academy’s school-wide use of video for professional development, click here.

“I have been able to be in multiple rooms at the same time without actually being there. It’s been extremely powerful!”

“I don’t think it matters where you are in your career, whether you’re a first year teacher or a 30 year teacher… there’s something that you always can learn, and there’s lots of different ways to learn it.”


IRIS Connect allows educators to capture, upload, analyze, and share videos online for highly-effective professional learning. If you’d like to learn more about IRIS Connect call 206-201-1998 or click here to start a free trial.

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Developing a Self-Sustaining Coaching Culture

Video Coaching at Foxford School and Community Arts College

Foxford School and Community Arts College have increased the impact of their coaching programme, developing a self-sustaining coaching culture with the help of inspire2teach and IRIS Connect. 

Foxford pupils coaching culture

The Inspiration

Welcoming around 1,000 students from all backgrounds, Foxford School and Community Arts College in north-east Coventry centres teaching and learning around three core values:

  • Success is realised in a variety of ways
  • People can and do change
  • Growth is achieved through learning and partnership

With these values in mind, they were looking to increase the impact of their already embedded programme to develop a stronger coaching culture. Foxford heard about St Augustine Academy in Kent, who were using IRIS Connect alongside a unique coaching project called inspire2teach and seeing some significant results.

“Inspire2teach was born out of our use of IRIS Connect,” says Paul Collin, Senior Lead Practitioner of Teaching and Learning at St Augustine Academy. “We’d had it for about 2 years, but were concerned about it falling by the wayside if I, the main driver for it in the school, was to leave. So we decided to develop a self-sustaining system that would prevent that happening.”

Having only used the programme in-house so far, St Augustine’s were keen to trial it in another school. Foxford agreed to be the pilot school and began the inspire2teach coaching programme in October 2015.

 “I don’t personally feel that at the moment there is another tool as effective or that gives you as much return on investment as IRIS Connect does. It’s a truly powerful tool for professional learning.”

Developing a coaching culture

“We initially identify with the school a willing group of 12 delegates. At Foxford, that included a wide variety of people from NQTs to heads of departments.” explains Paul. “We coach all 12 people but in addition, two of them will also train to become coaches themselves. We call them Coaching Improvement Partners (CIPs) and they become the legacy vehicle to carry on the programme once we’ve left,”

Paul and his team set the scene for the programme over a 2 day INSET. The first is an interactive fun day where delegates learn all about the programme and IRIS Connect, whilst the second day is for starting the IRIS Connect reflections. Every other week from there on, Paul and his coaches visit the school and on the weeks in between, they communicate with delegates via the online inspire2teach and IRIS Connect platforms.

After the sixth week, live in-ear coaching sessions are introduced using a five stage coaching sequence originally developed by Education Consultant and Trainer, Mike Fleetham. “We use in-ear coaching as part of the programme because of the rapid results it produces. Receiving feedback in the moment means that new approaches and techniques are embedded far more quickly. It’s also comforting to know that someone has your back if you are struggling with a class. It’s collaboration at its best point,” says Paul.

“What it’s done for a few colleagues in particular, in moving their practice forward and increasing their confidence and self esteem, has just been fantastic. Compared to the old coaching programme, this one is far more effective.”

The impact of coaching with video

Deputy Headteacher, Marie Szyndler shares the impact they have experienced across the school so far as a result of the inspire2teach programme and IRIS Connect:

“The programme’s been successful beyond anything that I had imagined, both in terms of the impact of IRIS Connect and the coaching”. “What it’s done for a few colleagues in particular, in moving their practice forward and increasing their confidence and self esteem, has just been fantastic. Compared to the old coaching programme, this one is far more effective.”

“We’ve seen improvements in teaching across the school and in students progress. We’ve had children and teachers come and ask: ‘when’s it my turn?’ and because they have gone through the process themselves, TLR post holders now feel they are better equipped to help move colleagues on in ways they hadn’t thought of before”.

The school’s focus this year has been questioning and oracy, which Marie feels, IRIS Connect has been particularly effective at supporting so far: “You can do things as straightforward as count your wait time or count students words. Then, you can look back at your questioning when you started and see how you have improved over time; it’s brilliant.”

“Something I hadn’t necessarily considered is that we could use both the inspire2teach coaching programme and IRIS Connect for wider CPD. So things like filming meetings, getting clips of lessons to create examples of good practice and building up a bank of videos about key issues like questioning, oracy and differentiation. I want to make sure that by the end of the year, all the faculties have been involved so we can learn what works,  what doesn’t and then plan for next year.”

The Future – sustaining coaching as part of the school culture

“I don’t personally feel that at the moment there is another tool as effective or that gives you as much return on investment as IRIS Connect does. It’s a truly powerful tool for professional learning,” says Paul.

“My hope is that, like Foxford, we can use the inspire2teach programme to help other schools get to grips with IRIS Connect and embed a self-sustaining coaching culture that lasts. Ultimately I’d like to build a network of schools who, beyond the 12 week programme, can continue to collaborate and share their experiences for the benefit of everyone.”


To find out more about inspire2teach please visit their website, take a look at this presentation outlining their journey of inspire2teach from school to project pilot, view this flyer or contact Paul Collin: [email protected] 

Learn more about IRIS Connect:

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Early experiences of video professional learning

Treleigh Community Primary School
Teacher using video in the classroom

Ryan Hanley, a year 5 teacher at Treleigh Community Primary School in Cornwall, volunteered to be one of the first to use IRIS Connect after his school invested in the system in January 2016. In his own words, Ryan shares an honest account of his experiences of getting started with video professional learning and how he is finding the use of IRIS Connect…

With the changes to the new primary curriculum and the raised expectations, it is tempting to say that teaching and learning has been compromised. Do we solely focus on teaching the increased content driven curriculum, or focus on the best methods and vehicles in which to deliver this content?

We believe IRIS Connect will help us as a team to hold true to our convictions and focus on the best methods to deliver this new curriculum. With a balance of video-based activities in the IRIS Connect platform and peer coaching groups, we’re hoping to improve how we teach, encourage and motivate one another to focus on what really matters; the impact our actions have on children’s learning.

Getting started with video professional learning

We are a medium-sized expanding Cornish school that serves the biggest conurbation in Cornwall – Camborne, Pool and Redruth district. After initially seeing the IRIS Connect platform at a local cluster school’s ‘learning-group’ training day in 2015, our deputy-head teacher was keen to investigate further.

Soon enough, we invested in the system and put forward two teachers (myself and the year 6 teacher) to be in charge of getting used to the equipment, ensuring that it was embedded into our practice and a consistent part of our professional development.

We began using IRIS Connect in January 2016. Rather than just being seen as another ‘bolt-on’ or ‘gimmick’ for the new curriculum by our fellow colleagues, we knew it would be important to ensure that IRIS Connect was properly embedded into our school practice.

Working with our deputy-headteacher, we planned a ‘3 half-termly phased’ approach to help us structure the way teachers got used to the equipment; becoming familiar and competent at recording themselves.

We also had a liaison with Richard from Impact Matters, a leadership consultancy that act as regional partner for IRIS Connect, working with schools and colleges in Wales and the South West of England. Richard helped us to think about coaching methodology, and how to encourage peer-to-peer support amongst the teachers to help motivate and encourage this new approach in our school.

Building the confidence to share with others

Teacher using IRIS ConnectInitially, however, we had to get used to the equipment and filming our lessons. They say with IRIS Connect, you need to get 4 recordings done ‘on-the-bounce’ to get over that initial awareness that you’re being filmed throughout your lesson; and we both found this to be true! Equally, after 4 recordings, we found that we became less concerned with our ‘looks’ and how we sounded on camera, and more focused on the impact the lesson had on the children. We began recording lessons just to see if a new idea would work, or how a group would react to a certain task etc.

Once you’ve recorded a lesson, you have the ability to share it internally from your account to that of a colleague. At first, we both found it slightly nerve-racking to share our lessons; it’s a lesson observation all over again! Will he think I went on too long during the input? Were the children engaged? Was there enough challenge? All these questions flooded our minds before we hit the share button.

However, to the contrary, the comments (which can be tagged within minute and second intervals of the video – like a Facebook feed!) were very encouraging and up-lifting. As we were both ‘in the same boat’, we both enjoyed having the opportunity to be the ‘fly-on-the-wall’ in each other’s lessons. More importantly still, we could silence the harshest critics (ourselves) and focus on the positives; a skill that is arguably forgotten in the current teaching climate.

Setting up coaching triads

Once we had set up coaching triads, our colleagues enthusiastically took to video coaching, recording both long and short lessons in order to get over the ‘4 recording hurdle.’

On a staff-meeting feedback session, we found that the feeling of anxiety before sharing a video was common. However, we knew that we didn’t have to share our video and that if the lesson was an absolute car-crash, we could always choose not to and try again the next day.

Currently, we are still in the process of recording lessons with set focuses to help us get used to the coaching process, improving our professional development and overall teaching and learning.

Looking to the future
treleigh community primary school

Although it is still early-days for us, we are hoping that we can build a ‘bank’ of good practice videos that will help not only the staff at Treleigh, but maybe even the schools in our cluster and learning group as well.

We are already seeing how our PGCE students are benefiting from the impact of seeing themselves teach and saving time arranging demonstrations and observations of other teachers, rather than just logging on to watch best practice of a particular focus they need.

We’re in the business of educating, and this life-long education culture needs to be alive and modelled by the teachers to the children they teach.

IRIS Connect is certainly an educational journey for us, one we are only beginning, but are excited to be on.

What is IRIS Connect?

IRIS Connect platformIRIS Connect is a secure, personalised place for teachers to record, analyse and reflect on their practice.

Teachers can take control and arrange their own professional learning experiences and resources. As well as share easily with each other to make collaboration simple, organised and effective.

Find out more

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