Schools turn to live in-ear coaching for teachers in the classroom

Secondary schools are starting to adopt new technology that provides teachers with a live commentary on their classroom practice using an earpiece and a video link, TES has learned

Teachers are connected to a remote “coach” who provides instant feedback on their classroom performance. Such approaches are well established in sports, particularly in the US, where American football players are continually given orders and tips by their head coach using headsets.

There was a backlash when similar technology using earpieces and walkie-talkies was first introduced to school classrooms in the States, with some teachers claiming it turned them into “robots”.

‘Surveillance’ risk

But the technology has proved far more popular among teaching staff in the UK, where around 100 schools now use it. This comes despite initial concerns from classroom unions that it could be used as a “surveillance system” or for performance management.

The NASUWT teaching union said that lesson observations and the use of cameras in schools were both “sensitive issues”, but that it had worked with suppliers of the technology and the Association of School and College Leaders to develop a code of practice.

Graham Newell, education director of one supplier, Iris Connect, said that his company’s approach was different to situations in America where technology had been used to “instruct teachers on how to behave in the classroom”.

“Our technology isn’t used like that – it is totally controlled by the teacher, as a professional development tool,” he said.

This is an edited version of an article in the 26 February edition of TES. Subscribers can view the full article here. This week’s TES magazine is available in all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here.

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