Archive | Teacher PD

Strengthening lesson observation & feedback through video CPD



Lesson observations can be an effective part of teachers’ CPD, but they’re not without their challenges. This was a lesson that Deputy Headteacher, Kristi Mumm and the teachers at Tartu Forselius School in Estonia met head-on using IRIS Connect’s video and feedback tools. It resulted in teachers being able to:

  • analyse lessons more deeply to understand for themselves where they can improve
  • see each other teach more frequently
  • give and receive more effective feedback
  • feel more confident in their skills and capabilities
  • build a stronger community of trust and support.


Like some schools in Estonia, teachers at Tartu Forselius were observing each other’s lessons just twice a year, meaning the consistency and depth of feedback they gave and received didn’t effectively support their teachers’ growth.  

As a result, some teachers felt that their professional development had reached a dead end, and for an innovative and award-winning school focused on providing the very best teaching and learning, this was a big issue. 

Deputy Headteacher, Kristi Mumm, knew something had to change but had no idea that inspiration would come from a trip to London.

“During a visit to Ainslie Wood Primary School, I was introduced to the idea of filming lessons for lesson observation and feedback,” she explains. “When I returned to my school, it was still on my mind so I started researching how to do this, to learn more about it. I was immediately drawn to IRIS Connect because it’s easy to use and solves the problems we were having around capturing lesson observations. 

We were facing challenges such as: 

  • providing guidance and tools to help teachers analyse lessons more constructively; 
  • showing teachers the parts of the lesson that feedback relates to rather than relying on memory;
  • and helping those staff who didn’t have time to visit their colleague’s classrooms and observe their lessons to see lessons via video instead.”


How IRIS Connect helped

The research Kristi did soon led to the school adopting IRIS Connect and just a year in, the 10 teachers using the kit, are seeing really positive results. 

In Estonia lesson observations typically happen twice a year. Through the use of IRIS Connect, the teachers of Tartu Forselius School are now observing each other on a monthly basis increasing the scope and potential for teacher CPD, significantly. 

They’ve also created a series of Forms that they use to help analyse lessons effectively, which they hope to share with other Estonian schools using IRIS Connect. 

Kristi says: “In the beginning we just tried to get used to sharing our lessons but recently we’ve started using the forms feature. I actually used some of the ready made-forms and in the future we’ll be creating our own as a team.”


Art teacher, Elts Kuhhi says: “We have a small team with whom we share clips of lessons each month. We set a focus based on our personal needs and ask colleagues to comment. For example, I recently asked a team member to look at the overall working mood in my class, and whether they noticed anybody who needed my attention. The feedback I received was great and really improved my confidence.”

Teacher of 24 years, Inga Lokko says: “I was interested in using IRIS Connect because I felt that my professional development had reached a standstill and that getting some objective feedback (through video) would help me to see where and how I could improve. So, it’s been great to see myself from a different perspective and to find new ways to develop. It’s also allowed me more opportunities to see my colleagues’ lessons which I didn’t have before because I have no free lessons. It really has taught me to analyse my lessons more deeply, to explore differentiation, and to search for different ways to persuade students to be more active in the lesson.”

Pille Arro, English and Maths teacher says: “Although teachers in our school collaborated a lot before using IRIS Connect, I feel like the teachers who are using the system are somehow more connected to each other and working together even more than ever-before. This brings us closer together as we support and encourage each other.”

Ingrit Tera has been teaching for 21 years: “The benefits of IRIS Connect are priceless. I would certainly recommend it to anyone as a good opportunity to grow professionally.”


Results and future plans

Moving forwards the school plans to continue working with IRIS Connect to improve the lesson observation and feedback process, and to extend its use from just 10 teachers to 20 in the coming year. 

“I really like that, as a school, we are talking more about teaching and learning with each other,” says Kristi. “Teachers are analysing their lessons more deeply, their understanding of themselves as teachers has grown, and they are more open to feedback. I want that for all of our teaching staff, not just some. I think IRIS Connect is a very efficient tool in helping to support teachers’ professional development. I really do recommend it and think it’s great value for money.”




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


Resources for Lesson Observation

Get your free practical guide for improving lesson observation

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The benefits of video on classroom practice

By Ryan Zeedyk

In 2016, Douglas ESD decided to invest in the IRIS Connect platform because our county in Oregon is pretty rural. We have a lot of teachers that are the only one in their grade level, or the entire science department and it gave us a platform to be able to capture and share our classroom practice over distance. 

Most teachers long to collaborate with like-minded educators, and learn quickly by watching others in action,  so video seemed like a good option. We purchased 2 kits as an ESD (Education Service District) to support our county.

Gaining staff buy in

To begin with, getting this program in motion was all about comfortability. Most teachers do not want to video themselves, unless they are already very confident in their practice. Since a lot of the teachers we wanted to develop were not so confident putting a camera in their classroom would only brings tension. The coaches at the ESD and surrounding districts knew that if we wanted it to be successful,  we would have to lead by example and model it first, if we wanted any of our teachers to use it successfully. 

Our first year was just using the tools as coaches; setting it up and recording ourselves whenever we were providing PD, or modeling lessons. This made it easy for us the following year when we asked teachers to start doing the same. 

Capturing and sharing practice

Our second year was much more teacher-focused. Coaches and mentors would record teachers and use the platform to provide time-stamped feedback from the lessons. We also started capturing clips of exemplary teachers to show during our regional workgroups. If we were discussing trauma-informed practices, then we’d record a teacher building her students’ working memory. If we were discussing call and response cues, then we’d capture that, and so on. It made it far easier to capture and share practice with all the teachers in our District. 

Our third year saw some innovative and interesting uses that teachers and admins created on their own.We had some professional learning communities (PLCs) created and teachers were recording each other practicing strategies and giving each other feedback. Not only were people beginning to feel comfortable with using it, but they were definitely seeing the benefits in the practice, as well as their confidence. 

One of the  principals even used it to capture behavior triggers between students and staff to spark conversations. Another staff member, a curriculum specialist, started recording themselves during training sessions in case any of their staff couldn’t attend and missed it.

Award winning video-based PD

In May 2019, we won an award for innovation from the OAESCD for our work in expanding PD tools throughout the county. 

The purpose of the OAESD New Ideas in Education Awards is to both recognize innovative ideas, projects or programs initiated by member ESDs as well as to stimulate a culture of innovation and creativity within each Oregon ESD. 

“Douglas ESD purchased this system to serve our component school districts” said Analicia Nicholson, Douglas ESD assistant superintendent. “Ryan was instrumental in not only supporting teachers as they tested out the program but in ensuring teachers truly embraced the program’s capabilities for professional development.”

To date, the system has been used by all 13 component districts. Douglas ESD has seen:

  • Teachers recording themselves to share best practices in regional workgroups.
  • A trauma-informed coordinator recording professional development sessions to meet the needs of all staff.
  • Instructional coaches recording their clients and providing time-stamped feedback digitally.
  • An elementary school principal recording behavior triggers between staff and students to target specific management strategies.
  • Mentor teachers recording themselves and mentees for objective reflections of lessons.
  • Professional Learning Communities modeling specific strategies and recording themselves to refine their teaching.


We are now in our fourth year and hope to continue see these ideas grow and deepen to connect teachers within our schools and collaborate within our county. While the measured impact so far has been solely qualitative, it can certainly be felt. Teachers are definitely more comfortable recording themselves and the school communities that have been using Iris Connect are overall more open to reflection and growing within their practice.


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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


resources to support teacher development

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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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Enriched Professional Learning Culture


Sharing valuable knowledge and learning outcomes


After adopting IRIS Connect, Horizon College in The Netherlands have successfully developed an open door culture by giving teachers access to more effective reflection and peer review.


Mano Fluiter, Professional Development Coordinator at Horizon College in The Netherlands, noticed that a lot of valuable knowledge and learning outcomes were not shared amongst their 120 teachers, and ongoing constructive dialogue between teachers didn’t exist. They wanted to open classroom doors and create a more accessible learning culture by facilitating reflection and peer review amongst teachers.

Mano visited an IRIS Connect customer workshop and was immediately enthusiastic about the potential it could offer their teachers and organisation in terms of professional development.

“What I liked about IRIS Connect was the potential to use integrated technology consisting of a recording system, a personal page to reflect and share videos so you can get feedback easily, and a platform to work on certain educational subjects like classroom management, giving effective feedback, didactics and pedagogy,” explains Mano.


How IRIS Connect helped

They started with implementing it as a new system for recording lessons and sharing videos in order to facilitate peer review more easily across the college. Since then their approach to working with IRIS Connect has shifted. They are now working in groups and creating environments where teachers systematically review themselves and each other based on theory, problems and input from their own classroom experiences.

“Reflecting on and sharing videos has facilitated more professional dialogue to analyse behaviour and effectiveness in the classroom,” says Mano. “Teachers see what impact they have on students and that helps them to change their way of thinking and their approach. Usually teachers find it nice to actually talk about their experiences because often there’s no time or easy way for them to do that.”

He continues: “Before we worked with IRIS Connect teachers rarely saw how others taught and the challenges they faced. Now there’s more professional dialogue and mutual understanding about the way, and how, we teach, which is a very important factor in developing CPD and better student learning outcomes.”

“I think IRIS Connect is very handy. You normally miss a lot during a class. But, the platform gives you the opportunity to really reflect on those moments that you miss and receive feedback. I would recommend it, especially because it allows you to see the reactions of your students which helps you so much with connecting with them and knowing in which ways to teach effectively.” – Helga Degeling, Technical Nursing Skill Instructor


Results, return on investment and future plans

Most of Horizon’s courses are organised in groups of 8-12 teachers, who are evaluated. In specific evaluations where usage of IRIS Connect is more dominant, they specifically asked teachers how working with IRIS Connect helps them with their professional development. All of them said it made a positive impact and graded it 3.75 on a 5-point scale. Also, 60% said that they would consider IRIS Connect for personal review after the course was finished.

It’s also saved time according to Mano: “Teachers can record their own practice and share the fragments that are important or relevant to them. This gives direct focus, helps when giving feedback and increases dialogue. All of which are very effective uses of time and impact learning. It’s also saved time because teachers no longer need to work with usb-sticks (which can get lost) or other ways of sharing their videos. It’s all much easier and more secure.”

As for their future plans, Mano says: “We want to further maximise the impact of learning with IRIS Connect. This means we want to utilise the platform in a way that allows for deep learning via reflection and professional dialogue,” describes Mano. “If I was to recommend IRIS Connect to others, I would say the cost per license isn’t very much, in return you get an integrated recording system which is secure, teachers have privacy and control of their own recordings and it makes sharing and learning from and with each other so much easier. In 2019 we will develop a program for teachers who have just started their teaching career for the whole of Horizon College, which has about 1,000 teachers.

“Also, I would say, make learning with IRIS Connect as visible and personal as you can, but implement it in small steps. Create a positive atmosphere and organise a support system for teachers who are not as sure about working with it and what it can do for them. Basically, create a positive learning climate where being challenged and failure is a powerful way of learning.”


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

Free CPD resources

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Improved Teaching Standards


Increasing the percentage of Good and Outstanding teaching 


As a result of staff’s commitment to utilising IRIS Connect at Diamond Wood Community Academy, the percentage of children achieving age-related expectations or greater depth understanding has increased in all subjects. They’ve also experienced a significant rise in the percentage of good and outstanding teaching observed across the school, with children receiving 22% Outstanding lessons and 95% Good. In addition, Becki Price, Year 1 Curriculum & Achievement Leader, successfully completed her National Professional Qualification for Middle Leadership (NPQML) based on her use of IRIS Connect and was awarded the Examiner Inspirational Teacher of the Year award 2018.


At Diamond Wood Community Academy, they have always understood the importance of ensuring that CPD is genuinely effective, and the vital role that sharing practice plays in this. “Our passionate and dedicated teachers do their utmost to ensure that our pupils have the best possible start to their school life, and this starts with CPD,” explains Becki Price.

But despite being able to offer several development opportunities for their staff each year, budget constraints had made it extremely difficult to cover lessons so that teachers could observe each others’ outstanding practice in person. It was clear that Diamond Wood needed to make peer-to-peer observations more efficient, and in September 2017 they turned to IRIS Connect to help them achieve this.


How IRIS Connect helped

“Our very first experiences of the platform were fantastic,” describes Becki. “The initial training opportunities IRIS Connect offered fitted perfectly around our schedule and made sure that our teachers got to grips with using the recording equipment and online platform in no time. I had initially planned to take the lead on this, purely as a project for my NPQML but, IRIS Connect has been so immediately effective that it is now an integral part of our school development plan and I am continuing to push the project forward.”

To begin with, the teachers worked in year groups to conduct ‘lesson study’ observations and build libraries of shared practice. Some staff had concerns at first about recording and sharing their lessons, but together with the community team at IRIS Connect, Becki and the other members of SLT assured them that this was strictly for their development and not for monitoring or performance management. “I knew that making sure staff felt at ease with the system would be crucial to its successful implementation across the school, so I sent them all some outtakes of my very first lesson recordings to help break the ice a little!”


Results, return on investment and future plans

“So far, we’ve found IRIS Connect to be just as, if not more, impactful on teaching and learning than we had hoped. Teachers have become more reflective practitioners and are making great use of the platform to share practice with colleagues and initiate discussions around teaching techniques and strategies.”

The editing tool is also saving them a huge amount of time, allowing teachers to trim their recordings down to short clips that are relevant to their specific focuses, which colleagues can quickly look over and feedback on.

As a result of everyone’s commitment to utilising IRIS Connect, the percentage of children achieving age-related expectations or greater depth of understanding has increased in all subjects. There has also been a significant rise in the percentage of good and outstanding teaching observed across the school, with children receiving 22% ‘outstanding’ lessons and 95% ‘good’.

In addition, Becki successfully completed her National Professional Qualification for Middle Leadership (NPQML) based on her use of IRIS Connect and was awarded the Examiner Inspirational Teacher of the Year award 2018.

Moving forward, Becki’s hoping to expand their use of IRIS Connect to support subject leaders using the ‘Groups’ function. “This will allow, for instance, all of our maths teachers to use a shared space on the online platform to discuss practice and disseminate subject-specific expertise, so that teaching from one year group to another is consistent and complementary. Our next step is to connect with other schools using IRIS Connect, which should open up a whole world of collaborative and practice-sharing opportunities.”

On top of all this, because IRIS Connect is helping our staff identify their strengths and weaknesses through self-reflection, they now use it to create a personalised action plan for each academic year. “This gives us, as subject and school leaders, a better understanding of their individual aims for CPD and helps us establish how best to support them in achieving these. Given that IRIS Connect has enabled us to affect all of these positive changes in this one year alone, needless to say, we are incredibly optimistic and excited about the CPD and school improvement opportunities it will afford us in the years to come.”


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:



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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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Delivering personalised, relevant and time-efficient CPD in an independent school

Latymer Upper School

Here at IRIS Connect we value the uniqueness of independent schools. But what challenges do they face around CPD? And how might they overcome them? To find out, we sat down with Will Goldsmith, Head of English at Latymer Upper School and chatted about how independent schools can benefit from being able to deliver more personalised, relevant and time-efficient CPD to staff.

IRIS Connect: What kind of challenges were you facing around CPD?

Will Goldsmith: “There’s just never enough time (although Laytmer is very good at giving us time for engaging in professional development), whether you work in the maintained sector or independent sector and I worked for 8 years in the former and have done 5 in the latter so far. The other real challenge is relevancy – there are a lot of subject-specific courses that I look at as a Head of Department at an independent school and think that’s not going to be useful because we have a different kind of cohort on some levels. So, it’s challenging to find external people who understand our particular environment. It’s also very hard to find filmed lessons which are available in the public arena and feature a school or classrooms similar to ours. We know that the more we can tailor CPD to the environment we’re in, the more relevant it is for the people concerned and that just makes it a lot easier for people to feel like it’s useful for them.

IC: How have you overcome these challenges?

WG:  “Through IRIS Connect we’ve been able to revolutionise access to observations because we haven’t needed to organise cover or even watch entire lessons. It’s allowed us to essentially do a 10 min drop-in (something that quite a lot of senior management do now) without actually being there and focus in on what we want or need to see. So, it’s really helped to free up time.

For example, I’ve got someone in my department doing an on-the-job PGCE through the University of Buckingham at the moment. My colleague is mentoring him and all of his internal observations are being done using IRIS Connect. This has freed up a lot of time and allowed the mentor to observe any lesson and not miss out on anything crucial, rather than just the lessons when he is free. Arranging cover to observe is obviously a big imposition and we try and avoid it.”

IC: That’s great. What about the challenge of relevancy?

WG: “By recording lessons we’re able to use our own classrooms as the context and stimulus for people reflecting on their own practice or each others, so it’s a hundred times more relevant and useful. A teacher in my department did all his PGCE training with me, using video to observe and reflect on his lessons. He’s still quite new to the profession and still needs to develop further, but he was observed by Deputy Head Academic and the lesson was outstanding. I believe that filming himself was a factor in helping him to develop so rapidly and effectively.”

IC: Why did Latymer choose IC?

WG: It was part of a bigger focus on CPD. As well as purchasing IRIS Connect, the school invested in extra teachers last year to be able to give all teachers a slot on their timetable dedicated to professional development that they log in a learning journal. The school values this activity enormously and has invested heavily in it in order to facilitate the professional development of its staff. Although I wasn’t part of the decision-making group to get IRIS Connect at Latymer, I was in my previous school and we ended up choosing one of your big rivals. Having used their system and now IRIS Connect, I wish that we had chosen IRIS because it’s so much better and easier.

IC: You joined Latymer at the end of the last academic year, was your department already using IC then?

WG: It was using it a little but, soon after starting, I asked everyone to have a go and almost everyone did. The last year was very light touch and I really just said: “use it, film yourselves and see how that goes. If you’d like to share it with me please do so, but if not don’t worry.” Thankfully most of them did and actually this year everyone is much more comfortable with it, so they’re using it a lot more.

IC: How is it being used on a whole school level?

WG: “We’ve been asked to do more observations in trios. Initially, it was just in departments but now we’re increasingly looking to share things with people from other departments. So again, just in terms of logistics and timetable, it’s been incredibly useful.

We also run twilight sessions specifically for staff new and record those, so if someone misses one they can still have access. We’d like to do this with more training sessions too. We know that’s it really difficult to deliver good CPD sessions whether it’s internally or someone from the outside coming in, and there’s a lot of work that goes into making those sessions really good. By filming those sessions and sharing them through the platform we not only have a permanent record but are also able to give teachers a sense of ownership over their own development.

IC: Has working with IC impacted on the culture of the school?

WG: We’re certainly working much more collaboratively and transparently. The fact that we film our lessons and then share them is a collaborative act, with collaborative intent behind it.

IC: How has IC affected you and your role?

WG: “It’s made me so much more aware of what I’m actually like. It keeps me on my toes. As an experienced teacher, I think it’s very easy to get complacent, particularly in an independent school because we have students who are quite often a lot more well behaved and are therefore much more forgiving than pupils in classrooms where one needs to be tighter on behaviour management. I use IRIS Connect not because it’s my core responsibility but because it suits my needs as being head of a big department. I’ve filmed myself teaching, delivering departmental and training sessions, all of which have allowed me to become better at those things. It’s also allowed the people I’m responsible for to be much better teachers as well. For me, that’s really fundamental.”

IC: Do you have any plans for other ways you might use IC in the future?

WG: Yes. We have quite a few students who apply for Oxford and Cambridge every year, so we give them mock interviews to help them prepare. Quite often we partner up with other schools to conduct the interviews and make them more authentic by giving pupils a sense of being in a different place or with people they don’t know. I might film some of those to share with the newer members of the department who haven’t done them yet themselves.

IC: So, you would recommend IRIS Connect to other independent schools?

WG: I absolutely would. We’re lucky here at Latymer because we have a big focus on professional development and we are allowed significant time to do it. But I know that’s not the case for all independent schools. For me, the biggest thing that improves teacher performance in the classroom is being able to see yourself on camera. There’s nothing more powerful than that. So, in that way, I think having IRIS Connect could be seen to give us an advantage over other independent schools that don’t use it.

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Improving professional development for Learning Assistants

After realising that the current CPD planner wasn’t producing effective results for Learning Assistants, Germaine Mckinnon, Assistant Headteacher at Braunstone Frith Primary School, reviewed their training and development process. She decided that it could be facilitated and made more successful with the use of IRIS Connect.

IRIS Connect: What challenges and objectives led you to start using IRIS Connect with your Learning Assistants?

Germaine: A CPD planner had been devised for Learning Assistants based on good and outstanding criteria for learning support – this was to allow Learning Assistants to begin to track their own CPD. However, it was not initially obvious how it would be used to support ongoing professional development.

I was given the brief to look at Learning Assistants training and development and how it could best be facilitated using IRIS Connect. We have very experienced and dedicated Learning Assistants in school who are always keen to receive feedback and to improve although they often think that CPD is only about going on external courses, which, as research suggests, have very limited impact in school.

After seeing significant results when using IRIS Connect to support the development of our NQTs, we considered taking the same approach with our support staff. There had previously been success when the Learning Assistants had in-ear coaching, so we knew there was value in it. Using IRIS Connect, therefore, seemed an obvious way to bring together all of the school’s needs and priorities.

IRIS Connect: How are you using IRIS Connect with them?

Germaine: All 36 of the Learning Assistants in school are involved. There is a full range of personalities -from those who are keen to get started, to those who are more reluctant and in need of support, as well as a small minority who still have not yet made a reflection.

We worked with Mike Fleetham and set aside training sessions specifically for the Learning Assistants, each one with a clear focus. The first session introduced the kit for those who had never seen or used it before and their first task was to record a 15-minute self-reflection. The second session showed them how to reflect on the videos – sharing, editing and making comments. The final session focused on how IRIS Connect could be used by them was linked to the targets on the CPD planner.

IRIS Connect: What impact has the work with IRIS Connect had on the Learning Assistants so far and how do you hope to see them developing in the future?
Germaine: A recent survey of the Learning Assistants has shown that they are confident using IRIS Connect and can see the benefit of using it to improve their professional practice. They have been very positive about the feedback they have received and have used the tips and advice they have been given.

Some of our Learning Assistants use the equipment with minimal prompting and are keen to share their reflections with trusted others. Equally, when a video is shared with them, they offer feedback and are generally very positive.

In the future, it would be fantastic if they could contribute videos to the Teaching Library Group that we have built in IRIS Connect because they feel confident that their practice is exemplary.

IRIS Connect: Has their work with IRIS Connect changed their relationships with other staff? If so, how and do you see this developing further in the future?

Germaine: The Learning Assistants are usually comfortable to share their videos with their class teachers, but are still quite shy about sharing wider than that. Some Learning Assistants do share with other teachers, however, and specifically request feedback on areas of their practice which they have identified as a focus and some others are even prepared to share reflections with the whole school. Relationships have improved within the Learning Assistants group, but there is still some work to do on establishing improved relationships across teachers and the Learning Assistants.

IRIS Connect: What impact has this all had on the learners so far? What impact do you hope to see on the learners in the future?

Germaine: The Learning Assistants can see that using IRIS Connect benefits the children they work with. They are often responsible for teaching in small groups and the most effective use for them has been through the use of questioning and behaviour management.

Being able to watch and reflect on their practice has allowed the Learning Assistants to make simple tweaks to their teaching such as positioning in the classroom, sharing roles with other adults in the room, planning questions and keeping the children on task and engaged more effectively.

IRIS Connect: What are your future plans for IRIS Connect?

Germaine: To continue with the CPD planners for Learning Assistants and identify personalised targets. There has been 1-to-1 coaching using IRIS Connect reflections, with identified Learning Assistants, which will be rolled out to the rest of the support staff in the future.

We are currently creating a Teaching Library Group of in-house exemplar lessons to meet the CPD needs of all staff and we hope that the Learning Assistants will be brave enough to contribute to this as well. The use of IRIS Connect is part of the whole school improvement plan and it is key to the progress and development of the school.

Discover how else schools are using video for CPD

Find out what Learning Assistant Helen Baker thinks of 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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