Lesson Study was first developed in Japan in the late 19th century, and has been practised in the West for around the last 20 years.
What is lesson study?
The process is based around a small group of teachers, normally a triad, investigating their chosen area of enquiry through repeated collaborative planning and observation.
The observation focuses on the learning of pupils rather than the actions of the teacher. The process is then refined by evaluating the impact on pupil learning.
The following 6 tips are used by the National Teacher Enquiry Network to support the implementation of Lesson Study in schools:
1. Expert input
After a few cycles of intervention lessons, where lessons have been planned and observed collaboratively, it is useful to bring in some expert input. The mentor, or some other external partner, can recommend some research or similar to extend and augment the enquiry project for the next few cycles of lessons.
It is extremely easy for anyone to put a lot of effort into an idea and to find superficial ways that suggest it works. However, to be as useful as possible, the evaluation processes used in Lesson Study should be as objective and methodologically sound as possible. In addition to qualitative methods, such as interviewing the case pupils, objective measures such as counting the number of times a certain event occurs or a standardised test should be used. Where appropriate, a comparison or control group is an excellent way of measuring impact.
3. Mentor role
It is advisable to support any triads of Lesson Study in your school with a mentor. This person can help guide groups in choosing a learner-focused enquiry question, direct participants towards relevant research, and provide assistance during the evaluation and the dissemination processes.
It is important that Lesson Study is integrated into the school’s timetable so that participants have enough time not only to observe each other, but also to reflect together on their observations and then collaboratively plan the next lesson. Ideally, regular time slots are introduced into the timetable to allow for this, although use of video can of course assist this.
To ensure that a group’s project is as effective as possible, triads should choose an enquiry project that is underpinned by research. Reviewing research should be part of the process in choosing an enquiry question.
It is essential to find ways for others to learn from your Lesson Study. Strategies should be designed for enquiry groups to share their findings amongst colleagues and peers in their own school, and elsewhere. Video is an ideal medium for sharing across a wide audience.
Lesson Study has the potential to transform both professional and pupil learning in a collaborative and teacher driven way. You can find out more about the National Teacher Enquiry Network and how it supports Lesson Study here.
Bridget Clay is the National Teacher Enquiry Network Support Officer at the Teacher Development Trust. She is a former Maths teacher and education consultant.
Do you have any tips for implementing lesson study?