If you’ve ever filmed yourself teaching, you’ll know that it can be an incredibly formative, if daunting, experience. Unlike the observer who drops in for 20 minutes and spends half of the time looking at their observation record, the camera misses nothing. When I first used IRIS, I felt myself becoming unexpectedly nervous: strangely, I found the presence of a camera more daunting than a human observer. However, having been through the process a few times now, I’m now committed to making filming a regular tool for reflecting on my practice.
I’ve heard of IRIS, but what is it?
IRIS is a system comprising of a website and a set of high-tech video cameras. The cameras, which take only a few minutes to set up, track your movement and pick up sound from multiple locations using microphones which you can move about the room.
Once recorded, the video is uploaded to the website with a single click where you can share it or keep it for personal reflection.
What if I don’t want to share my video?
All videos are entirely secure to the teacher who filmed them. Only that teacher may share the video and choose who it is shared with. You can also edit the video and share your ‘best bits’. If only we could do this with regular lesson observations?!
This makes IRIS a really positive way to work collaboratively with other teachers. The company who developed the package have worked hard to make sure that it is non-threatening and encourages sharing. This isn’t about making judgements or performance management.
How can I use IRIS?
There are lots of ways to make use of IRIS, the main one being reflecting on your practice individually or collaboratively. IRIS have also produced this useful blog detailing 10 ways to use IRIS – definitely worth a look: http://blog.irisconnect.co.uk/community/blog/10-uses-for-iris-connect-you-might-not-have-thought-of/
After half-term a group of us will be sharing lessons around a key theme or idea. Similarly, you might choose to use the equipment to develop something specific within your department area. If you would like to do this, your department could book out the cameras for a number of consecutive days or a whole week. You could use a department meeting to edit your recordings and share them with each other.
Finally, we have a second camera system which allows for live (in-ear) coaching. Why not try using this to support another member of staff with an area they want to develop in their teaching, or as a tool for collaborative lesson study?
How do I get started?
You need a login to use IRIS. We have a limited number to distribute so get in touch with me and I will assign you an account. Then you just need to book the equipment out on Frog. The first couple of times that you use it, the IT team can help you set it up so that it’s ready at the beginning of your lesson. Once it’s in the classroom, it’s a matter of logging in and pressing a few buttons, then you’re ready to go.
Technology like IRIS has the potential to make some teachers feel anxious, but this is something which we must overcome. Developing a culture of openness around our classrooms allows up to develop and refine our practice in a way that is impossible behind a closed door.