Jugyoukenkuu (or ‘Lesson Study’ as it is more widely known) is the Japanese art of teacher professional development. It involves the identification of an area of teaching that needs to be developed, by a group of teachers. The group then plans a lesson together (the research lesson) to address that area of need (with a particular focus on specific students to monitor their progress). One teacher then delivers the research lesson, whilst the other members of the group observe the lesson. They then interview the target students to gauge their progress and engagement during the lesson. The lesson is then reviewed by the group, with strengths and further areas for development identified. The process is then repeated (with somebody else teaching the research lesson) based on this review – with a view to refining the teaching strategy being looked at.
At DHS, three teachers in the science department (@JodyEChan, @PilkingtonBrown and @angiepangie1959 ) are trying out this new collaborative form of CPD. A summary of how we have approached lesson study follows:
1. Identify area of focus (a) teaching strategy (b) students
Once the ‘lesson study group’ is identified, they need to have the process of lesson study explained to them (the handbook on the lesson study UK website, which is linked at the end of this article, is a good resource to use for this). They then need to decide the foci of the research lesson:
(a) What is your research question – what is the teaching strategy they want to develop?
e.g. How can we develop questioning skills to promote deep thinking?; How can we ensure that we are engaging the disengaged?.
(b) identify 3 students who the observers will focus during the research lesson and then interview afterwards.
This is a key part of the process, as the progress of these students will be monitored during the research lesson. It’s a good idea to pick three students with a different profile, as this will give you valuable feedback about the success of the lesson.
e.g. High ability, middle ability and low ability; Currently achieving above, on or below their target level/grade; different ‘typical’ levels of behaviour/ engagement.
At this point it is also worth discussing and planning the questions that will be asked of these students after the lesson. For example:
- What did you learn during the lesson? How do you know?
- Do you know what you need to do, in order to further improve your learning?
- Which aspects of the teaching worked well for you and why?
- How do you think the lesson could be improved? Why?
Clearly the questions will need to be shaped by your initial research question. It’s also worth considering at this point how you would expect the students to respond
2. Group planning of research lesson
The group then sit down and plan the lesson in detail, with a particular focus on addressing the research question and the learning needs of the 3 focus students.
Once the lesson has been planned, discus and agree the following:
- Which of the observers will concentrate on each of the focus students, during the lesson observation.
- What you want each of the focus students to be able to do by the end of the lesson.
- What will be the success criteria, if the research question is successfully addressed.
3. Delivery and observation of research lesson
The lesson is then delivered by the agreed member of the group and then observed by the other two members of the group – with particular attention given to the focus students.
Detailed notes should be taken during the lesson that relate specifically to the research question and the progress of the focus students.
4. Student interview
As soon as is possible after the lesson, the focus students should be interviewed – using the questions agreed during stage 1 of the process.
5. Review of research lesson
The group then meets to discuss and review the research lesson. Key questions should be:
- To what extent was the research question addressed? How do we know?
- Did the focus students achieve in line with what we had expected, or better, or worse? Why?
- What was their (focus students) perception of the lesson? Is this a surprise?
- Overall, what were the successes of the lesson? Why?
- What areas need to be developed further?
6. Next cycle
Having reviewed the initial research lesson and identified areas of teaching that need to be developed further, the next cycle of research lessons is planned. This time it will be delivered by a different member of the group, and the research question will be reshaped, based on the development areas from this initial research lesson.
Steps 1 – 6 will then be repeated, until all members of the group have delivered a research lesson.
Why Lesson Study
Although it is early days for lesson study at DHS, it appears to be highly effective CPD model because:
- It encourages teacher collaboration and reflection.
- It allows teachers to take ownership of their own CPD – as they choose the research question that they wish to address.
- It is evidence based – as teachers evaluate the teaching methods they are trying to develop.
- It uses student voice to develop the quality of teaching.
For further information and resources, look at the ‘Lesson Study UK’ website.