How Can We Strengthen Each Element of the Lesson Study Cycle?
Each phase of the lesson study cycle–Study, Plan, Teach, Reflect–has enormous potential to improve teaching and learning. How can we make the most of each phase? This presentation will examine the practices of effective lesson study groups, through video and artifacts of their work. For example, we will look at the power of a school-wide research theme and theory of action, of a mock-up lesson (before the research lesson) in which team members play the role of students, of high-quality content resources to support the Study phase, and of different protocols to support post-lesson discussions. Examples will be drawn from U.S. elementary schools that, through practice of school-wide lesson study and Teaching Through Problem-solving, have substantially improved the mathematics learning of historically low-achieving groups, including students of color, second language learners, students from low-income backgrounds, and students without secure housing. On-line resources will be introduced, designed to allow lesson study practitioners around the world to see and discuss lesson study practice.
Catherine Lewis PhD is a research scientist at Mills College (Oakland, California). She has directed 7 major federally-funded grants focused on building practical, scalable strategies to support improvement of teaching and learning. Her recent research (conducted with Rebecca Perry) demonstrates that teams of teachers engaged in lesson study, supported by mathematical resources, can significantly improve students’ mathematics learning (Lewis & Perry, Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 2017, 48:3). Lewis speaks and reads Japanese and published the earliest English-language accounts of Japanese lesson study, along with widely used handbooks (including Lesson Study Step by Step, with Jacqueline Hurd, Heinemann 2011). Online materials produced with her colleagues at Mills College have introduced lesson study to many educators around the world (www.lessonresearch.net ). Educated at Harvard University (BA) and Stanford University (Ph.D. in Development Psychology), she comes from 3 generations of public school teachers.
Lesson study: much ado about nothing?
Except apparently for Japan, to organise Lesson study in a sustainable way seems to be quite an issue for the rest of the world. This problem of sustainability is not exclusive for Lesson study but applies to teacher professional development in general. Derived from organisational literature, the concept of organisational routines is helpful to discuss this issue. In short, organisational routines in the light of teaching refer to aspects of the work of teaching that are perceived as self-evident and functional. In the case of Lesson study, it can only be sustainable if it is perceived as a self-evident and functional part of the work of teaching. To be a self-evident and functional part, it should relate to the core of teaching. As we know from recent research on Lesson study, teachers differ in what they perceive as Lesson study and therefore how this relates to the core of teaching. This perception of what Lesson study contains, also impacts the way Lesson study is organised in schools and its sustainability. Related to teachers’ perceptions of Lesson study is also their perception of the problem Lesson study is a solution for, which also impacts its sustainability.
In sum, In this keynote I will discuss these issues in order to understand the possible added value of lesson study for teachers and also whether we can learn from Japan in this respect. In short: Lesson study, much ado about nothing?
Klaas van Veen is a professor in Educational Studies at the University of Groningen and director of the teacher education program. Currently he is serving as vice dean of the Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences, where he is responsible for the quality of education. Actually, all his professional life his focus is on education and especially on how to organise and support students’ and teachers’ learning. If this was an easy thing to do, he would not be giving a keynote at the WALS. What fascinates him is that despite the many insights we have in learning and teaching, it is still a challenge to organise the learning and teaching in a successful way. Derived from Lora Bartlett, his adagium is that you get the learning and teaching you organise for. Lesson study in this respect is a fascinating way of working and learning.
Teacher expectations: Can secondary school teachers predict how well their pupils will do?
Many powerful pedagogies are based on the idea that teachers adapt their lessons to their students’ current needs. However, can teachers actually assess those needs, and see how much students have learned in class? Intuitively, yes, but if lesson study shows one thing, it is how much there is to learn if teachers truly focus on individual students and their learning. Research tells us the same story: that while teachers can assess and predict learning of their students to some extent, there is also room for improvement.
Here, we will focus on studies that look at how teachers in secondary schools get to know a new class of students. I will show what information they use to form expectations about their students, and how their insight into their students improves over time. I will also discuss individual differences between teachers, and the role that the quality of assessment plays in getting to know your students.
Martijn Meeter is a professor of education sciences at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands. Since 2015 he has served as director of the LEARN research institute and of the teacher training program at Vrije Universiteit. His research focuses on learning, using traditional methods of education research as well as techniques drawn from cognitive neuroscience, such as computational modelling and EEG. He has also studied clinical populations and conducted surveys in several African countries.
Islands in the stream: Encouraging teacher collaboration in an otherwise solitary profession
In many education systems the classroom remains a teacher’s personal domain, their individual island that is not open to visitors or tourists, the solitary realm of the educator and their learners. In order to encourage new pedagogies and enact educational reforms, research demonstrates that the classroom should be available as a space within which teachers can observe and learn from, as well as teach in. In this presentation we will track the integration of lesson study in the Irish education system, where teachers have traditionally maintained the classroom as their individual and exclusive province. We consider how collaborative teacher education can be encouraged on a national scale through a combination of policies, research and reform agendas and with support from initial teacher education programmes.
Aligning with our conference theme of the day, Pedagogies for Teaching & Learning, the presentation will also explore the mediation of structured problem-solving approaches in the mathematics classroom through teachers’ participation in lesson study. This talk aims to provide insight into the introduction of lesson study on the island of Ireland where teachers, once islands in the stream, can now rely on each other for mutual learning.
Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin is an Assistant Professor at the UCD School of Mathematics and Statistics, where she is also Director of the BSc. Mathematics, Science and Education concurrent Initial Teacher Education pathways. Before commencing her PhD in Mathematics Education at Trinity College Dublin, she taught mathematics, physics and applied mathematics at post-primary level. Her research focuses on teacher education, specifically on the development of mathematical knowledge for teaching. She is a member of the Department of Education & Skills STEM Education Policy Group and is a recipient of Science Foundation Ireland’s Outstanding Contribution to STEM Communication Award.