Understanding the Lesson Study approach to collaborative improvement
What is it?
Lesson Study consists of a detailed study or examination of the practice of teaching. The process was developed in Japan and is built on the premise that the best way to improve education is to ‘get teachers together to study the processes of teaching and learning in classrooms, and then devise ways to improve them. Teachers who engage in Lesson Study undertake a cycle of activity together intended to investigate and improve a specific aspect of classroom technique so that pupils’ learning and progress improves because pedagogy is better designed and delivered.
How does it work?
Teachers in the Lesson Study group work together over a period of time and in the following phases.
1. Group agreement as to the intended focus of the Lesson Study
What is the aspect of classroom technique they want to investigate and improve? The study lesson provides a valuable opportunity for a department to identify a challenging aspect of teaching and learning that would gain from a detailed investigation by a supportive, collaborative group with the help of the leading teacher.
Examples might include how to:
*demonstrate skills and processes effectively to the whole class;
*focus on the needs of a small guided group while ensuring the rest of the class learn productively
through independent activity;
*model explaining and justifying in mathematics or how to teach text coherence and cohesion
*purposefully engage a ‘traditionally’ underperforming group in the class.
2. Plan together
The group considers the learning needs of the class to be taught and collaboratively designs an innovative lesson or sequence of lessons that uses the techniques to be focused upon. The planning is detailed and specifies resources, teaching approaches, intended pupil activity, anticipated pupil responses and outcomes.
3. Teach the lesson and observe the learning
One teacher agrees to teach the lesson and the rest of the group observes closely the way pupils react, how effectively they learn and make progress and how well the design of the lesson meets pupils’ needs and engages them in learning.
4. Review the lesson and its impact on the pupils
Following the lesson, the group meets to review its effectiveness and share their observations about its impact on pupils’ learning. They consider what worked and what needs to be adjusted, and what has been learned about the pedagogical approaches being focused on.
5. Revise and adjust the lesson
As a result of the review, teachers in the group agree how to refine and adjust the lesson or lesson sequence and what they hope to achieve by doing so. They re-plan with a different class or group in mind. The Lesson Study is then repeated with a different member of the group teaching and with a different class or group of pupils. This second lesson is again reviewed for its effectiveness and what has been noticed about its impact on pupils’ learning.
6. Extrapolate and share findings.
Finally, the Lesson Study group considers what has been learned and understood from the process and agrees ways to share these findings more widely within and beyond the department.