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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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.

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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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How can you measure the impact of CPD?

Posted by Kate Herbert-Smith on 10 September, 2018

If you've invested time, money and effort into a CPD programme, you’ll naturally want to know that it’s having a positive impact on your school’s teaching and learning.

Taking the time to evaluate your CPD is important. It helps you to better understand which CPD activities are beneficial and actually lead to improved teacher practice and which ones don’t, ensuring you feel confident in the opportunities you offer your staff.

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5 quick and easy ways to use IRIS Connect this term

Posted by Alexandra Spalding on 5 September, 2018

We know the adoption of new strategies and technologies can sometimes be difficult and time-consuming. Whether you're already using IRIS Connect, or you're considering investing in video-based professional development in your school, here are 5 quick and easy ways that you can use the IRIS Connect system this term.


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6 tips for better wellbeing this year

Posted by Angus Lashwood on 3 September, 2018

We hear, day in, day out, from teachers who can’t wait to have a little extra time on their hands to focus on their practice, development or basic wellbeing, and the headlines paint a similar picture.

According to the Education Support Partnership (ESP), between 2017 and 2018 the number of teachers seeking mental health support rose by 35%, citing heightening accountability, an increasingly intense testing culture and relentless workload as the key drivers.

These pressures don’t ease off as teachers climb the ladder either; helpline calls to the ESP from SLT members rose 24% and represented some of the most extreme cases they had heard. And with last year’s DfE workload survey revealing average weekly working hours of 54 and 60 respectively for teachers and SLT members, systemic pressures are clearly playing a role.

teacher wellbeing

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