A structured approach to self-reflection for teachers


The impact of IRIS Connect film club

Unity Academy Blackpool in the UK have provided their teachers with a structured approach to self-reflection, encouraging them to take risks and experiment with new teaching strategies.

Through IRIS Connect film club, teachers were given access to video clips, resources and discussion questions focused on dialogic teaching. They came together to collaborate, reflect and discuss the strategies used, before trying them in their own classrooms. We spoke to Head of Communications, Toni Shaw to find out about her experience and the impact it’s had on her and her colleagues.


Why did you choose to run a film club?
Toni: We chose to run IRIS Connect film club as part of our whole school teaching and learning strategy to encourage people to experiment and take risks. The different episodes of film club provided us with a specific focus for this and encouraged dialogue and ‘corridor talk’ amongst the teaching staff. Sixteen members of staff across our primary and secondary sectors attended the first meeting. This included those who were already using IRIS Connect as well as those that hadn’t.

What do you like about film club?
Toni: The opportunity to try something new and to discuss it with both our primary and secondary colleagues. It also forces me to dedicate time to my personal development that often gets buried under the day to day role of a classroom teacher.

Has film club affected the professional learning culture at all?
Toni: Yes. It’s encouraged people to use IRIS Connect for the first time and allowed teachers who experimented with the strategies, an opportunity to step out of their comfort zone. Self-reflection is an important part of our Academy Improvement Plan so it gave people a very structured way of approaching this.

What exactly was it about film club that made a difference?
Toni: The neutral video clips, collaborative approach and clear focus are all part of the appeal of film club. For instance, the collaborative approach provided opportunities for us to open dialogue with our colleagues about how things had gone. Where we found a particular area of the strategy a challenge, it was useful to coach each other towards possible solutions.

The content in episode 1: the Empire Talks Back is great. Especially because the teacher in the clip used strategies that wouldn’t be traditionally encouraged, such as not giving praise.

Will you be using film club in the future?
Toni: Yes. We are due to run the second episode early January so hopefully, with more experience, I will have a better understanding of how we can use it going forward, and how many people experimented with the strategy after the meeting. My goal is to use the film club approach and apply our own classroom clips that coincide with our teaching and learning improvement plan.

Can you suggest any improvements?
Toni: To aid the development of discussion I would have liked to have watched the pre-screening clip a couple of times within the session with my colleagues. This would have opened up much more professional dialogue. Watching it in advance meant that we had all already drawn our own conclusions and therefore, made our discussions rather brief.


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