Using video to support trainees to achieve Qualified Teacher Status
In 2020, The Hampshire SCITT Partnership needed to find ways to ensure they could effectively and efficiently support their trainee teachers to reach Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) by the summer of 2021. They decided to leverage the video technology being used by their Thornden School colleagues, with whom they share a site.
With 39 trainees spread across 18 schools and limitations around in-person observations, Juliet Pearce, Director of The Hampshire SCITT, needed to make alternative provisions to their current observation, feedback, and coaching models with trainees.
“Now that we have used IRIS Connect for over two terms, it is clear to us that it has been invaluable in enabling our trainees to make progress.” Juliet Pearce, Director of The Hampshire SCITT.
A SCITT Director’s perspective
We interviewed Juliet to explore why she believed video technology was the best solution to help overcome their challenges as a SCITT, and whether IRIS Connect had met her expectations.
What challenges and objectives led you to look for a solution like IRIS Connect?
Sims (2019) defines instructional coaching as an expert teacher working with a novice in an individualised, classroom-based, observation-feedback-practice cycle. If we use this definition, it is clear that all aspects of The Hampshire SCITT Partnership’s training programme are designed to promote, facilitate and support instructional coaching.
It was clear from the use of IRIS Connect at Thornden School that it could be a very powerful tool for instructional coaching because it enables trainees to:
- Watch and discuss their practice with their mentor (the expert teacher)
- Watch their own practice and then reflect on and refine their teaching
The lesson observation feedback that we currently had in place was based on the principles of instructional coaching, but this typically involved the mentor and trainee discussing the lesson after the event and the trainee having to remember aspects of the lesson. Discussion about classroom presence, for example, is quite difficult when the trainee can’t see themselves in action. Two minutes of a video clip illustrates perfectly the areas in which a trainee may need to work on voice, stance, or position in the classroom.
What was key to your successful implementation/adoption of IRIS Connect?
This was twofold. Firstly, we bought and placed an IRIS Connect Starter Kit in each of our 18 placement schools. Secondly, we made the inclusion of IRIS Connect clips compulsory for some of the evidence bundles in the trainees’ portfolio of evidence:
Making the use of IRIS Connect compulsory was crucial to the success of its use. Previously, we had given trainees the option to film their lessons and most of them opted not to do so for various reasons, mainly because they disliked the thought of watching themselves and through fears of the technology not working.
“It helped enormously that the SCITT’s Lead Subject Tutors were not able to visit school sites this year because of COVID, so the trainees had to film and share their lessons with their tutors for feedback. It quickly became the norm.” – Lead Subject Tutor
How has the use of video helped your trainees work towards achieving their QTS?
We always promote, encourage and support reflective practice and there is no doubt that the use of video has helped the trainees to reflect on their development as teachers. The most ambitious trainees have embraced the opportunity to observe their practice, reflect on areas they could strengthen, and then film their lesson again to see evidence of improvement. It has given them some autonomy over their development in the classroom which they have found very satisfying and a real confidence booster.
Have you been able to identify areas where the use of IRIS Connect has already had an impact?
It has been invaluable for helping trainees to develop a strong classroom presence. It is very difficult to talk to a trainee about body language and use of voice without any evidence of what you are describing. Linked to this is the development of the trainees’ behaviour management skills. A skill that comes quite late to trainees is the ability to scan a room, notice and correct small behaviours which disrupt learning and can escalate if not addressed immediately. It is very powerful if the trainee can see a video clip in which they have simply not noticed some poor behaviour that has then developed into significant low-level disruption. This then facilitates some very effective instructional coaching. The third area I would highlight is the trainees’ use of questioning. There is a sharp and sustained focus on assessment throughout our training programme and watching a video clip allows trainees to reflect on the quality of their questions, their wait-time, and the range of students they are including.
What are your plans for using IRIS Connect in the future?
We feel like we have only touched the surface of the capabilities of the system, specifically around mentoring and coaching, but we are already looking forward to 2021-2022 when we are planning to develop this use of the platform further.
By the end of May 2021, each trainee will have shared a video of a whole lesson with me. From those lessons, I will select the most valuable for training purposes and ask the relevant trainees to create another video in which they deconstruct the lesson, explaining the reasons for the key areas of their planning. My intention here is to create a bank of videos that cover the main areas of the ITT Core Content Framework. This will be a comprehensive training resource made even more powerful by the fact that the teaching being demonstrated is the practice we have promoted and supported in our own training, which will be made available to future cohorts as guidance.
Even when our lead subject tutors are able to observe lessons in person again, we will still require trainees to film and share their lessons with tutors. This will strengthen our QA processes i.e. tutors will be able to observe two lessons, instead of one, each term.
We want to extend the use by trainees of the commentary facility so when they share a reflection with their mentor or tutor, they will be required to add a commentary. This will help significantly with the trainees’ development as reflective practitioners.
Has IRIS Connect helped to save you time and/or money?
IRIS Connect has certainly saved us plenty of time and also money (in terms of travel expenses) but, even more importantly this year, it has enabled us to assess trainees and maintain our stringent quality assurance processes. Assessors in schools and employed by the SCITT, as well as the SCITT’s external examiner have used or will use the trainees’ videos to assess their progress against the Teachers’ Standards. Not only has it ensured quality, but it has also given us peace of mind.
“Equipping our trainees with the video technology that enables them to watch and evaluate their own performance has been really valuable. As a lead subject tutor, being able to access video footage has definitely enhanced the quality of feedback we’ve been able to give” – Lead Subject Tutor
A trainee teacher’s perspective
With the use of video technology being felt so positively from the perspectives of the SCITT leadership team and the impact that it’s had on saving time and overcoming the challenges of distance; we decided to interview the trainees themselves, and find out what their experience of using video technology has been:
What were your initial thoughts about using video technology to support you in achieving QTS?
In the first instance, the concept of using video technology to reflect on my own practice was incredibly daunting. The thought of having to watch yourself back and listen to the sound of your voice is always a difficult and uncomfortable aspect. But knowing its availability and accessibility was for the purpose and support of my personal development outweighed my initial thoughts. Additionally, I was reluctant to try video technology in my classes as I did not want this to be a cause of distraction for the students. However, whenever I have used video technology, I have been positively surprised at how little it affected the classroom dynamics. I am very technologically aware and have confidence in using technology on a daily basis; I recognise the power and positive influence it can have. So, the aspect of using and working my way around devices wasn’t an issue or a hindrance.
How has using IRIS Connect made a difference to your experience as a trainee?
IRIS Connect has enabled me to recognise areas of improvement, the success or lack of success of strategies, and acknowledge the reasons behind my weekly targets. It has positively impacted my training and has aided in collating strong evidence for my portfolio.
“Videos created using IRIS Connect from previous trainees were used during our training days. These were incredibly helpful to demonstrate good and positive practice, whilst providing constructive and helpful tips on establishing routines, running a classroom, and structuring a strong lesson. These videos increased my confidence in my own practice and provided me with realistic and authentic experiences and scenarios from newly qualified teachers. In a way, it made me realise my own potential and know that, with hard work, my end goal was achievable.” – Trainee
Is there a particular feature in the IRIS Connect platform that you rely on most?
Particular features I rely on most are being able to edit the video into individual segments and having the control to share my video with who I like. Having the edit feature has made it far easier to assess particular strategies more swiftly without having to watch the entire video to find it. This has been particularly helpful during some of my mentor meetings, as we have been able to use our time productively to effectively focus on specific parts and moments of my lesson. Also, having control of who views my videos is an encouraging aspect and is why I have used IRIS Connect a lot this past year. This feature makes me feel less exposed and vulnerable. It is comforting to know that only I can view it unless I share it with other people. Even then, the people with whom I share it are those who will provide me with invaluable feedback.
How different do you feel your trainee year would have been without the SCITT having access to IRIS Connect?
As previously mentioned, it has provided me with confidence in my own practice and development. It has been a great resource to witness and learn from other teachers and for my own reflective purposes. When my mentor assigns a target every week, I am able to use IRIS Connect to understand and acknowledge why I have been given these specific targets, it is a great opportunity to cross-reference what they see and outline my improvements more thoroughly. Additionally, I used it a lot in my first term at school. When the second COVID lockdown was issued, it was a relief to know that I had given myself time to use the software/resource efficiently for both my evidence folder and for self-assessment opportunities.
My mentor, other supportive colleagues, and I have been able to witness my growth through my videos and it is great to use this video technology to see (and remember!) how far I have come in my professional practice.
“Without IRIS Connect, I do not think I would be able to effectively develop into the teacher I am continuously progressing to be.” – Trainee
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