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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getting teachers talking about teaching

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Kate Herbert-Smith

Kate's background in publishing has left her with a great love of thoughtful descriptions and inspiring stories. When she's not writing compelling blogs and case studies for us, she can be found devouring the latest best-seller or watching all manner of TED Talks. She has a growing appetite for video editing/storytelling, not to mention an unhealthy passion for all things Harry Potter and the uncanny ability to recite almost every single episode of the sitcom Friends.
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Recent Posts

Can you afford NOT to invest in your teachers?

Posted by Kate Herbert-Smith on 8 November, 2018

CPD doesn’t come cheap and in the current financial climate, it can feel like the most obvious thing to cut. But, if improving teaching quality opens the door to raising student achievement, then surely CPD is the key and should, therefore, be a priority on every school leaders list?

invest in teachers

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15 of the best educators and #EdTech accounts to follow on Twitter in 2018

Posted by Kate Herbert-Smith on 26 October, 2018

Following educators on Twitter will help you to keep up-to-date on the latest advice and research in education, as well as find and share resources, and be part of a passionate, international community of professionals.

If you’re not sure where to get started, here’s 15 educators and #edtech accounts we recommend following this year and beyond (list in no particular order):

which educators to follow on twitter

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What is instructional coaching? Is it the best-proven form of CPD?

Posted by Kate Herbert-Smith on 26 September, 2018

At the recent ResearchEd 18 event in London we learned all about instructional coaching, which is, according to researcher Sam Sims, “probably the best-evidenced form of CPD currently known to mankind”.

The evidence he presented was both convincing and compelling. Looking at randomised-controlled trials of teaching interventions in English (from the US-based Investing in Innovation programme) only seven out of 31 had a statistically significant positive effect, with even worse results for maths (three out of 23).

Of the 15 RCTs Sims found on instructional coaching, however, ten had a statistically significant positive effect.

So what is instructional coaching, how does it work and how can your teachers benefit from it?

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How to build an instructional coaching programme

Posted by Kate Herbert-Smith on 26 September, 2018

As coaching trainer Peter DeWitt said in his blog 3 Reasons Instructional Coaching May Not Be Working, and as the Measures of Effective Teaching Project showed, badly done coaching can actually harm teachers’ performance.

Despite educators’ best efforts, the majority of initiatives in schools today fail. Some estimates show failure rates as high as 70%. The main reason for this is poor implementation. Unfortunately, good intentions are not enough when it comes to driving and sustaining growth.

Unposed group of creative business people in an open concept office brainstorming their next project.-2

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How to make lesson observations most effective

Posted by Kate Herbert-Smith on 24 September, 2018

Numerous studies over recent years have shown that high-level and consistent performance from teachers in the classroom is central to improving outcomes for learners. So, naturally the education world has begun to examine teacher effectiveness more closely and how it can be improved.

One of the main ways that teachers get feedback on their practice, in order to develop and grow, is through mandatory lesson observations, whereby a headteacher or a member of SLT sits in on a lesson to observe the teacher. However, despite their widespread use in schools, there is a great deal of data that highlights how ineffective traditional lesson observations can be. 

One of the strongest datasets being the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project, which confirms that teaching and learning do not improve unless teachers get high-quality feedback from impartial and authentic observations by consistent evaluators. 

But, according to a SmartBrief poll nearly 70% of teachers said that traditional observation processes do not give them the meaningful and actionable feedback they need to grow. And 62% of school leaders acknowledged that the evaluation systems in place at their schools are not effective in supporting their teachers development. 

So, what can be done to improve the effectiveness of lesson observations?

Improve lesson observations, improve your school

 

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Latest recipients of Strategic School Improvement Fund released

Posted by Kate Herbert-Smith on 27 August, 2018

We’re proud to announce that we will be working with Aspire Multi-Academy Trust, who are among the few to receive a slice of the Strategic School Improvement Fund (SSIF). Their project aims to do many things, including:

  • Establish evidence-based best practice of maths Mastery in each school in every classroom.
  • Improve the progress of maths at the end of KS2 to a positive score, for all pupils.
  • Establish a sustainable link between each school in the trust and the Cornwall and Devon Maths Hub.
  • Increase teacher engagement and confidence in CPD, to maximise their impact and improve teacher retention.

Teacher explaining something to her pupil in a classroom-1

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