From 3 – 6 September 2019 the World Association of Lesson Studies (WALS) International Conference will take place in the Netherlands. VU Amsterdam, University of Groningen and Utrecht University, three leading universities for teacher education, are hosting this international and important event in the capital of the Netherlands: Amsterdam. We are proud and pleased to invite teachers, practitioners and researchers from all over the world to take part in this international conference on the European continent to learn from each other on Lesson Study and share experiences.
Conference theme: Crafting Sustainable Pedagogies for Teaching and Learning
The theme reflects three lenses to look at Lesson Study: the craftsmanship it demands, its sustainable effects on learning and professional development, and the beauty of its focus on what is and will always be at the heart of all education: the pedagogies which make us learn. The three looking glasses each deserve their merits, but should also be viewed as strongly interrelated and reinforcing each other. The three lenses reflect the subthemes attached to each of the three conference days: Crafting, Sustainable and Pedagogies.
Crafting means ‘making or constructing something with skill and careful attention to detail’. This process happens both within the Lesson Study cycle by teachers as outside in the wider community of researchers and educators when Lesson Study is adopted, implemented and sustained in schools. Within Lesson Study, crafting refers to teachers collaboratively designing a research lesson which requires a variety of skills such as design skills, the skills to collaborate and communicate, a research stance and pedagogical content knowledge. Crafting Lesson Study in schools involves embedding the practice into the wider educational context. This requires being sensitive to the educational and organisational context. Moreover, crafting Lesson Study also raises important questions about its theoretical underpinnings and practical issues (related to professional development and support).
Sustainable refers to ensuring that Lesson Study is not an isolated activity. Lesson Study needs to be integrated in the school structure and culture in such a way that it provides a strong basis for teachers’ continuous professional development. A prerequisite for sustainable Lesson Study as an organisational routine is that teachers develop a research stance towards teaching practice. This requires a supportive school environment in which the craft of Lesson Study is recognized and facilitated. One way to establish this is by already starting with Lesson Study in initial teacher education and continuing through all phases of teachers’ career.
Pedagogies refer to the theory and practice of teaching and the impact on student learning. Lesson Study focuses on the improvement and innovation of pedagogical practices such as innovative use of structures, the application of effective differentiated instruction or teaching through problem solving. Topics include good examples of Lesson Study practices, theoretical underpinnings, views, school-wide strategies of pedagogical improvement. WALS 2019 aims to provide an international and cross-cultural platform for teachers and researchers from different parts of the world to share their knowledge and experiences of Lesson Study. As in many non-Asian countries, Lesson Study in the Netherlands is a relatively recent practice. The Netherlands is an example of a country where it has yet to integrate in the professional life of teachers and in the organisational routines of schools. And this is an exciting challenge! The theme reflects how the organising universities joined in the consortium of Lesson Study NL, approach Lesson Study activities as crafts to ensure high-quality implementation of pedagogies in its ecological context organised in a sustainable way. It considers Lesson Study as a leverage for continuous school improvement that enables teachers (in training) to collaborate with each other, with teacher educators and educational researchers. We are very pleased to be hosting the WALS2019 in Amsterdam and hope that participants from all over the world will come and share their best practices and research findings from their own societal and cultural contexts to enrich our collective understanding of Lesson Study as a craft for sustainable pedagogies for teaching and learning.