Why Lesson Study?
One of the things that I really love about [Lesson Study] is that it puts a professional part back in teaching that we have to battle for all the time.… Being able to say “This is like a science, and we can figure these things out and get better at them.”
Jacqueline Hurd, Elementary Teacher
The most brilliant educational visions are just splotches of ink on paper until a teacher somewhere brings them to life in a classroom. Lesson study recognizes the central importance and difficulty of teaching—of actually bringing to life standards, frameworks, and “best practices” in the classroom. Lesson study is classroom research. Teachers build and refine ideas about “best practice” through careful, collaborative study of actual instruction. As teachers work together, they build a habit of learning from each other. A Florida middle school teacher said of Lesson Study “It’s changed how we approach our daily lives. We’re more confident sharing–previously I wouldn’t have admitted that I did a lesson that was a flop. There used to be barrier or feeling like you’re stealing if you share lessons. That barrier is gone now.”
Lynn Liptak and her colleagues at Paterson School #2 in New Jersey summed up the differences:
|Traditional Professional Development||Lesson Study|
|Begins with answer||Begins with question|
|Content driven by outside trainer||Content driven by participant inquiry|
|Relationships are hierarchical||Relationships are reciprocal|
|Research informs practice||Practice is research|
One-size-fits-all professional development rarely meets the needs of all teachers within a school or district. Lesson Study differs from more traditional teacher professional development in three main ways:
- A Learning Stance. Lesson Study differs from mentoring or coaching in its emphasis on inquiry conducted by equals. Even experts are expected to pose genuine questions about student learning.
- Shared Ownership and Responsibility. When a Lesson Study group works together, group members come to feel that lessons are “our” lessons, not “your” or “my” lessons. Members see the contributions of all team members, and become invested in colleagues’ professional growth.
- Emphasis on Students, Not the Teacher. Lesson Study focuses on student learning and development. It provides a rare and valuable chance for teachers to be in a classroom solely to investigate student learning, unencumbered by the need to manage students or provide instruction.
Lesson Study allows a school to build coherent instruction, bringing to life its vision of student learning across grade levels. It allows teachers to enjoy the satisfactions of classroom research and to influence education broadly through their research lessons, while keeping their feet firmly planted in the realities of classroom life.
What Educators Say About Lesson
Share Lesson Study with Your Colleagues
The resources below provide ways to deepen your own Lesson Study knowledge or to share Lesson Study with your colleagues. Watch a slide show overview of Lesson Study, watch a video of Lesson Study in action, or read an article together.
Share Lesson Study with Your Colleagues (Slideshow)
Lesson Study Comes of Age in North America