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 ( ). Educated at Harvard University (BA) and Stanford University (Ph.D. in Development Psychology), she comes from 3 generations of public school teachers.


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.



Sustaining Lesson Study through Adaptation for System Coherence


Lesson study has spread around the globe as an international model of collaborative teacher learning during the last two decades.  However, little is known about what it takes to sustain lesson study in a new cultural and organizational context.  Considering the potential of lesson study to support a teacher-driven process of instructional improvement, it is important to examine the conditions that support or hinder its sustainability.  Based on a mixed-methods study of lesson study sustainability in Florida, USA, we found that school districts that sustained lesson study (sustaining districts) were more likely than school districts that decreased or stopped lesson study (phasing-out districts) to increase teacher effectiveness over time.  Interview data further revealed that professional development leaders in sustaining districts adapted lesson study to integrate into the district instructional system and supported school and teacher ownership of lesson study process.  Phasing-out districts, on the other hand, developed a district model of lesson study with protocols and involved district facilitators to ensure fidelity of implementation.  These findings support the importance of lesson study adaptation to achieve instructional system coherence in a new cultural and organizational context for sustaining and benefiting from lesson study.


Dr. Motoko Akiba is a Professor and the Department Chair of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Florida State University.  She received her B.A. in Education from the University of Tsukuba, Japan, and a dual-title Ph.D. in Educational Theory & Policy and Comparative & International Education from Pennsylvania State University-University Park. Dr. Akiba’s areas of research expertise are teacher policy and reform, teacher professional development, and comparative education policy. Her publications include International handbook of teacher quality and policy (Routledge/Taylor & Francis, 2018) and Improving teacher quality: The U.S. teaching force in global context (Teachers College Press, 2009).



Lesson study: techniek of ethiek?


Lesson study is in korte tijd opvallend populair geworden. In deze lezing zal ik die populariteit plaatsen in de bredere context van aandacht voor professionalisering van leraren en verbetering van onderwijskwaliteit, en het belang dat daarbij wordt gehecht aan een onderzoeksmatige aanpak.
Vervolgens ga ik in de op de vraag waarom nu juist lesson study zo populair is. Ik geef twee antwoorden. Om te beginnen combineert lesson study een aantal cruciale elementen van verschillende ‘trends’: de school als gemeenschap met een gezamenlijke opdracht, co-constructie van kennis, de lerende leraar. Velen vinden er dus iets van hun gading. Maar pas op: het geheel is meer dan de delen.
In de tweede plaats ga ik in op de veel gehoorde verklaring dat het succes van lesson study ligt in het bruikbare en praktisch toepasbare karakter ervan. Dat benadrukt lesson study als techniek. Ik denk dat de kracht van lesson study is dat het ook meer is dan dat, namelijk een aanpak met beroepsethische consequenties. Aan handreikingen voor een ethische verhouding tot het beroep hebben leraren mijns inziens een minstens even grote behoefte als aan praktische handreikingen. Daarom eindig ik met een pleidooi voor het expliciteren en uitbouwen van dat aspect.


Monique Volman is a professor of Education at the University of Amsterdam, where she leads the Educational Sciences programme at the Research Institute of Child Development and Education (CDE). Main areas in her research are learning environments for meaningful learning and inequality and diversity in education. She is the PI of a number of projects on grants awarded by the Netherlands Initiative for Educational Research of NWO. She supervises several studies on the meaning of inquiry and research for professional development of teachers and school development.