Exploring what matters

Welcome to the IRIS Connect blog space where you can join conversations and discover free resources, tips and summaries. We hope you find something useful for your professional development and learning.

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Mentoring in schools: The key to retaining early career teachers?

Posted by Guest blogger - Haili Hughes on 19 February, 2021

Guest blog by Haili Hughes, English teacher at Saddleworth School in Oldham and Author of 'Mentoring in Schools' @HughesHaili

New teachers most benefit from being offered space to grow, reflect, continue to observe others, and to work collaboratively with colleagues. Mentoring is at its most powerful when it is built on positive personal relationships between novice teachers and those with more experience.”
Professor Rachel Lofthouse in ‘Mentoring in Schools’ by Haili Hughes

We have all seen the headlines screaming at us from newspaper front pages, ‘Teacher recruitment and retention crisis,’ informing us of the frightening statistic that one in five teachers leave school before they have served two years in the classroom (Weale, 2019). There is no doubt that teaching is a difficult job but how many of those practitioners may have stayed in the classroom if they had been given the support of a highly skilled mentor? Somebody who was given the time and training to support and nurture them through what can be one of the toughest times of their career. Now more than ever, in an uncertain educational landscape, where early career teachers are often working in isolation, having supportive mentors and experienced colleagues to support can make a huge difference.

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TeacherTales: How we provide remote, autonomous and truly continuous PD

 ‘In order for students to learn they must do something’. This ideal is the same for all those who teach or support education and training. At times, well intended, top-down approaches to CPD can be too broad and not specific enough to meet the needs of individual teachers. In addition, measuring the impact of generalised CPD on learning and progress is a constant challenge. 

In response to this, we at Middlesbrough College asked ourselves two simple questions: 

  • What CPD should teachers immerse themselves in that will have a direct impact on their students?
  • Who should be responsible for identifying what this is?

The answers seemed strikingly simple: professional teaching focused CPD should be explicitly tailored to a) the teaching practice needs of the teacher and b) the pedagogical needs of their students. 

As a result, the Middlesbrough College Teaching Innovation Group’s (T.I.G’s) were born.

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TeacherTales: 5 key staff development strategies during a pandemic

Posted by Guest blogger - Chris Harrison on 28 January, 2021

Since Covid struck in 2020, so many things have been put on hold as we collectively navigate our way through unusual and challenging circumstances. Outside, gatherings have ceased and socialising has taken a significant hit.  We now see this taking place in schools, too: cross-over of staff is rare or non-existent as we strive to keep teams safe. Even when schools were full of pupils many teachers were like passing ships as they drifted around in their own bubbles.  Many of us have tried to tackle these issues digitally with get-togethers, quizzes and virtual meet-ups and these can have a really positive impact: just seeing others and interacting with them can be such a boost. 

One area in our school that we had struggled to maintain was staff development: courses have ceased or gone digital; TeachMeets and BrewEDs are digital or postponed; learning walks have had to be rethought; school visits are a no go and cross-pollination of good pedagogy is significantly damaged. Within this blog I hope to unpick some ways of combating this digitally – and more specifically through the use of IRIS Connect.

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Sustainable solutions for improved teacher wellbeing (2021)

Posted by Rico Patzer on 27 January, 2021

“The phone rang at 10pm the week before Christmas. It was one of my oldest friends, James, a Headteacher at an Independent School in Melbourne. 

“Something’s wrong,” he said simply.

James went on to describe his symptoms: he couldn’t eat; couldn’t sleep and had terrible pain in his chest and stomach. He’d been to the doctors who diagnosed “stress and anxiety”. Horrified, I asked what they suggested he should do. Unsurprisingly, they offered him a cocktail of drugs and suggested that he see a therapist.

He rejected the drugs and saw the therapist, who was stumped. “You seem perfectly fine to me, I don’t know what to suggest,” he said. Fortunately I was visiting Australia that Christmas and was able to have a conversation with James on a long walk on the beach.

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Refining distance learning with IRIS Connect

Posted by Rico Patzer on 11 January, 2021

A new year, a new lockdown. With the latest government announcement schools have again been largely closed to most learners and are now switching to online learning at least until half term. In contrast to the first wave last year, most schools and teachers are now more experienced with this new approach to teaching and learning and are no longer solely focused on how to deliver online education but instead are considering ways to improve this experience for both their learners and their teachers. 

If your school has been using IRIS Connect to capture and improve classroom practice, take a look below at some ideas of how you could be using our online CPD platform to capture your online teaching, improve your practice and stay connected with colleagues wherever they are.

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How to teach remotely: 10 resources

Posted by Alexandra Spalding on 5 January, 2021

With the news that UK schools will be closing once more due to Coronavirus, we thought we'd share and refresh our list of 10 resources from back in March 2020, that provides great tips on how to teach remotely.

We know there’s no quick fix and one size certainly doesn’t fit all, but these tools to teach online could be a great place to start. Keep up to date with all the resources we're sharing over on our Twitter account @IRIS_Connect

Share any resources you’ve found to be useful in the comments section below so that fellow readers can benefit. 

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