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

Posted by Guest blogger - Stephen Donnison - Last updated on March 7, 2023

 ‘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.

Innovate - Middlesbrough College

Grasping the concept

At the start, visions of returning to the days of ‘Brew Your Own’ and ‘Teaching Squares’ CPD and lack of engagement by teachers were concerning. However, the CPD tool IRIS Connect provided a more attractive solution and opportunity.

The primary aim of T.I.G’s is to place teachers in a leading position to innovative ‘teaching and learning practice’ across all aspects of curriculum delivery, level and subject area within the college by: 

  • Identifying areas for innovation
  • Exploring this topic with like-minded colleagues 
  • Implementing the innovation into their practice 
  • Recording it for analysis
  • Reflecting on what they did individually
  • Sharing examples within the group to reflect collaboratively 

Record, Reflect, Share and Improve Cycle

Graphic: How IRIS Connect works

No aspect of teaching practice was off the table - be it changes to curriculum, specification, a new initiative, resource, equipment or digital concept. Teachers used their knowledge of their course and their students’ needs to choose and take ownership for their development topic. Then, after working remotely in collaboration with other like-minded teachers, they transferred what they’d learnt into the classroom or online lesson to test it.


How did this work in practice?

IRIS Connect enabled our teachers to record their online and classroom-based teaching and learning and automatically save those recordings in the teacher’s personal, secure account on a cloud-based platform. Our teachers could then share these recordings with each other, collaborate over distance and create topic focused groups to identify aspects of their teaching and assessment practice that they feel they would like to explore, experiment and develop further in order to improve the impact on the outcomes for their students.

To date at Middlesbrough College, 69 T.I.G. groups comprising over 270 educators from across all departments and levels including SEN, HE, Apprenticeships, FE and ESOL provision have set out on this test and reflect CPD journey.


IRIS Connect Teaching Innovation Group

Graphic: An example teaching innovation group


Next steps

Each member of the T.I.G. will share their experience of the development topic in practice via IRIS Connect using descriptive narrative and video reflections to curate the story of their T.I.G.’s innovation journey. This sharing of practice will be done online using the integrated Screen Capture feature. 

At the end of this academic year we will track the innovations and reflect on the progress made by each T.I.G. in improving teaching practice and outcomes for students. In addition, we plan to share the teaching practice successes and to learn from the not so successful. 

When we look to the future, we certainly hope that our teachers will carry on rising to the challenge and our students’ learning experience and progress continue to improve.


Written by Stephen Donnison @S_Donnison, Teaching and Learning Manager, Middlesbrough College.

Login and create your own Teaching Innovation Group or find out more about how IRIS Connect can support your organisations professional development goals by submitting the form to the right.


New Call-to-action

Leave a comment:

Get blog notifications

Keep up to date with our latest professional learning blogs.