Ryan Hanley, a year 5 teacher at Treleigh Community Primary School in the UK, 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
Initially, 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
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 is a secure, personalized place for teachers to record, analyze 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, organized and effective.Find out more
Get started – it’s FREE!
✓ Try IRIS Connect Film Club
✓ Record, reflect on & analyze your practice
✓ Use coaching & collaboration tools