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Luck of the Iris 

Not to be confused with a song by the Goo Goo Dolls or a terrorist organisation, Iris is the platform my school has bought into to help improve teaching and learning. Essentially it’s a tool to allow reflection through enabling teachers to record themselves delivering lessons which can be viewed later on. It’s not just a camcorder however, there are a couple of nifty tricks up its sleeves that make it rather clever…

Most obviously is the lanyard you wear that enables the camera to track you around the room, clever stuff, although slightly Orwellian. It comes with two units, (both iPads), that mean you can film yourself and the whole room at the same time. You could focus one camera on a student or even get them to wear the lanyard to focus on the impact your teaching has on a specific student. Useful for tracking the way you cater for PP or SEN students perhaps?

However, it’s not for the feint-hearted. I’ve been running and cycling a lot since November and despite my trimmer figure even I couldn’t bare to watch myself wobble around the room. If you’re a self-conscious sort, you might want to brace yourself. However, if you can get over the initial shock you will rapidly spot things you never even realised you were doing; not all of them good. 

We’ve all observed others and probably given feedback; even when observing a shocker you may just focus to feedback on the main areas for improvement. But with Iris you get the uncensored, unadulterated version that up until that point you may never before have realised was a problem. In my recent experiment with it, I noticed how often I talk from the front, shouting instructions like a puritanical preacher. I need to move around more!

I’d recommend that if you do use Iris, try to focus on a small section of the lesson. Limit your first reflection to 10 minutes and you might find it less overwhelming. As I use it more I will try to share my experiences. 

It holds a lot of potential for the future, imagine creating a portfolio of outstanding lessons you could share with employers? Imagine being in charge of your own appraisal observations, the possibilities are impressive.

For the time being though, it will be used to allow teachers to see what the students see every day: Sir’s balding head and rotund rear. 

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Author:

I am a teacher of English at a rural secondary school in the West of England; in my third year of teaching I became an NQT Induction coordinator and last year I was placed in charge of coordinating literacy across the school. I am now approaching my 6th year as a teacher and I feel as though I am still only just scraping the surface of what this job entails. Every year there is a new challenge to overcome and as any teacher will attest, sometimes we choose the challenges, other times they are thrust upon us. Sometimes the challenges seem worthwhile and alas sometimes they feel less so. I have made this blog to share some of the challenges that are beginning to arise as we strive to improve and to also share some of the ways in which we've done this - hopefully some may find it useful, hopefully I will too! Mr P.

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