Exploring what matters

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.

If you have a topic you'd like us to cover or if you're interested in covering one yourself in a guest post, please contact us.

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TeacherTales: From NQT to SLT with Video CPD

Posted by Tom Trower on 2 June, 2021

Guest blog written by Tom Trower @Mr_Trower, Assistant Head, Co-op Academy Woodlands

First of all, let me introduce myself! I’m Tom Trower, Assistant Headteacher at Co-op Academy Woodlands in Leeds and I know it sounds cliché, but I have always wanted to be a teacher… no really, always! For one of my birthdays growing up, I was gifted a school bell and blackboard and so I feel very lucky to be one of the few people who is doing what they have always wanted to do. I have to thank my fantastic Scout Leader who, if it wasn’t for her, I would not be the person I am today. Growing up in Scouting taught me to help others, see the best in people, be honest and caring and to ask for help when I need it.  

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TeacherTales: Video CPD - our silver lining

Guest blog by Lynette Clapham - Interim Executive Head at Grove House Primary & Crossley Hall Primary.

In some respects, IRIS Connect has become something of a lifeline to us this year. Being honest, it was something that our school had already invested in but there was a great deal of nervousness around its use, which really prevented it from being fully embraced. Fears around not liking the sound of our own voices, seeing ourselves on screen, or even those who were a little nervous of the technology were an initial barrier for us. 

As an organisation, we pride ourselves on our consistently good outcomes for all pupils through high levels of inclusion and a culture of coaching and development. I am a firm believer in getting the climate for learning right not only for our pupils but for our professionals too – this is our commitment to supporting everyone we work with to become the best that they can be.


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TeacherTales: Improve literacy by bringing meaning to words

Guest blog by IRIS Connect user, Israr Shah - Science teacher and Assistant Head with responsibility for Literacy at Co-op Academy Grange, inner city Bradford.

One of the greatest challenges we face as educators is closing the literacy gap. A gap which has worryingly widened over lockdown. At my current school over 60% of students started secondary education below their chronological reading age which means they are unable to access the KS3 curriculum. 

If children leave school unable to read, write and communicate effectively they will face future challenges in learning, earning and effectively supporting their children’s education if they become parents. One analysis of UN data has claimed that over 50% of all children who turn 10 this year will be unable to read a simple sentence.

It is my hope that this blog will share ideas and experiences so that we can learn from each other and more importantly develop ideas that work for our students so that they become word rich and confident in recognising and using words in all contexts.

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TeacherTales: Building educational resilience in pupils

Posted by Guest blogger Dr Maria Jagiello on 16 April, 2021

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again...

I have been interested in understanding and building resilience in educational aspects of teaching/learning for a long time, however nowadays it seems like a very current and almost trendy topic. Especially in the light of recent changes caused by the pandemic; resilience has become a necessity. 

When I reflect on my own educational history and adult life experiences I have always been determined to prove my abilities. As far as I remember, whenever I faced any obstacles, challenges or someone doubted or dared me, I felt the fire and ignition to prove them wrong, thinking ‘you better watch me now’. A big part of this attitude was shaped by my upbringing, educators and idols to ‘seize the moment’ and always try to do my best, to carry on and not give up. This manifested in my personality and became a valuable life skill. Not only does it help me in achieving goals but it sets a good example for my students too.  

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Cutting-edge video learning tools that support trainee teachers

Posted by Katie Eldridge on 5 March, 2021

We’re delighted to share the news of our collaboration with Teach First as part of their ongoing drive to deliver world-leading Initial Teacher Training (ITT). This work is part of a broader, ambitious project to align a range of cutting-edge technologies to enhance the quality, efficiency and accessibility across all Teach First Programmes. 

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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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