Innovations in professional development: real-time in-ear coaching

Posted by Graham Newell on January 25, 2017

Executive summary of research by MirandaNet and De Montfort University

Results from a research study indicate that regular use of a web-based video CPD system had a profound impact upon confidence, collaboration, risk taking and professional learning for teachers. 

The first phase of the research, undertaken by the MirandaNet Fellowship, involved a survey of 100 teachers who had been actively using the IRIS Connect system for professional learning. These findings prompted a second phase of the research from MirandaNet and De Montfort University, focusing on respondents who were using a feature of the system that enabled real-time, in-ear coaching and identified it as particularly powerful. The objective was to find out what makes this method of coaching effective and to drill down into aspects of its use. 

What is real-time, in-ear coaching?

Real time coaching enables live two-way dialogue between a teacher in the classroom and a coach elsewhere. The coach, with permission from the teacher, can observe the classroom via a live video link. They are able to remotely control the camera and make suggestions and feedback to the teacher, who is wearing an earpiece, in real time. The pupils cannot hear the suggestions although they will have been told this process is taking place.  Both video and audio are recorded and securely uploaded to the IRIS Connect cloud-based platform where it can be annotated with time-stamped comments and reviewed in follow-up feedback sessions. 


A literature review was undertaken on effective professional learning, coaching and previous studies in this field.  The research team undertook in-depth interviews with a small group of key practitioners using open-ended questions to explore their experience of coaching in more detail and to highlight critical incidents.  The interviews were analysed using grounded theory techniques.

 Key findings:

  • Deep learning, which is replicable and sustainable over time, can be achieved through providing immediate and contextualised feedback that the teacher can instantly put into practice
  • Using the platform ensures that the deep learning is replicable and sustainable across and between schools
  • Generally pupils are cooperative and not disruptive when this approach is used
  • The focus on classroom practice in real-time strengthens not just the confidence and capability of early career teachers but of any teacher keen to actively support their performance
  • This innovation may be resisted if not managed by senior managers with sensitivity
  • Sustainability can be of concern if those who set up the programme leave without training others to make use of the investment
  • Further research is recommendedlarger study that would be able to develop and consolidate what has been learnt here about the potential to transform teaching and learning.

“I was in a bad place. The in-ear coaching saved my teaching career, but even further, had a big impact on my life. I am now so much more confident”. - Participant

“I have come across research that talks about the immediacy of the feedback – the relationship between how long after the session the feedback is given and its impact. “….Without video we draw on the different individual memories – both the observer and the teacher: with video it’s a shared memory.” - Participant

Download the full report HERE


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