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

 ‘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.

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TeacherTales: 5 key staff development strategies during a pandemic

Posted by Guest blogger - Chris Harrison on 28 January, 2021

Since Covid struck in 2020, so many things have been put on hold as we collectively navigate our way through unusual and challenging circumstances. Outside, gatherings have ceased and socialising has taken a significant hit.  We now see this taking place in schools, too: cross-over of staff is rare or non-existent as we strive to keep teams safe. Even when schools were full of pupils many teachers were like passing ships as they drifted around in their own bubbles.  Many of us have tried to tackle these issues digitally with get-togethers, quizzes and virtual meet-ups and these can have a really positive impact: just seeing others and interacting with them can be such a boost. 

One area in our school that we had struggled to maintain was staff development: courses have ceased or gone digital; TeachMeets and BrewEDs are digital or postponed; learning walks have had to be rethought; school visits are a no go and cross-pollination of good pedagogy is significantly damaged. Within this blog I hope to unpick some ways of combating this digitally – and more specifically through the use of IRIS Connect.

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