Newport teachers filmed and mic'd up for lessons
5:52am Wednesday 21st May 2014 in News
Duffryn High School introducing technology to aid teaching. Associate Headteacher Jennifer Howlett at the computer to aid the teaching process. (6285770)
UNTIL recently it was only television presenters who had live feedback in their ear - now teachers at a Newport school are "mic'd up" and can be watched live by their senior managers.
Duffryn High School spent £13,000 on head sets and web-based software called Iris Connect to film one teacher at a time, who walks around the class wearing a microphone and headphone while being filmed.
The non-public broadcast appears on a laptop being watched by the head teacher or assistant head teacher, who can give instant feedback to the classroom.
Teachers can also film their own lessons and watch them back afterwards to see how they could improve or do things differently, explained head teacher Jon Wilson.
The school was praised in its recent Estyn inspection report for having one of the highest percentages the inspectorate had seen of good or excellent lessons, with none deemed "unsatisfactory".
"It is live coaching and is purely linked to staff development," said Mr Wilson of the school's new technology, which is internal, password protected and used by each teacher once per half-term, starting with the newest teachers.
"We get teachers to watch each other and positively criticise their lessons. We found that it was reviewing lessons and feeding back to staff that led to really good judgements on teaching [from Estyn]."
High-performing teachers are filmed for 15 minutes and their lessons edited into segments, such as the start of the lesson, questioning phase, use of resources and "plenaries" where teachers explain how progress is made. The lessons are then uploaded to the school website for colleagues to watch.
Pupils have also filmed their own short "lessons", solving equations or literacy problems, for their peers to watch online.
"If we have a brand new teacher come into school they can look at the website," said Mr Wilson. "We have follow-up staff sessions as well, asking what is effective questioning and how you can avoid telling pupils the answer. The technology takes some of the time out of it and avoids changing the dynamic in the classroom by having someone sit in. You can also put a microphone on a table and see how students are interacting."
The money to pay for the technology was prioritised out of the school budget, said Mr Wilson, adding: "It was something we needed to invest in.
"You see the fruits of the labour straight away because teachers can make changes immediately," he said. "It builds upon years of work we've done here. Everybody can improve all the time."
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