Prepare | Step 1:

Form a Team

This step addresses team size, composition, and how to involve outside specialists in your Lesson Study work.

  • Learn about optimal team size and composition
  • Learn about role of outside content specialists
  • Make Decisions About Your Team

    Spending time up front on your team’s makeup will help ensure your Lesson Study’s success.

    Team Size

    Optimal size for a lesson study team is three to six teachers.

    If your whole department or whole school plans to engage in Lesson Study, we recommend that you break into teams of about three to six, and plan for periodic meetings as a whole department or school.

    Team Composition

    At elementary schools, it is typical for teachers from one or two adjacent grades to form a lesson study team, since they share closely related curriculum challenges. However, a cross-grade team working  on a shared content strand (e.g., number sense) or problem of practice (e.g., reflective journals) can also be powerful.

    Single-Subject Versus Cross-Subject Teams

    Teams typically bring together teachers who teach the same subject (e.g., mathematics, English Language Arts) so that they can deepen their knowledge of the standards, curriculum, recent scholarship, and teaching strategies specific to that subject.

    Cross-subject teams can also be effective if team members have a genuine shared question that is important across disciplines. For example, teachers from several subject areas might collaborate to ask how they can improve students’ nonfiction comprehension strategies or their presentation and critique of ideas.

    Involving Others at Your School and Outside Specialists

    Coaches and outside specialists can make important contributions to a Lesson Study team, even if they are not regular members. Within the steps of the Cycle, we suggest you consult them to:

    • Identify good resources on your topic (e.g., content frameworks, research on student thinking) (during the Study phase)
    • Provide feedback on your draft lesson plan (during the Plan phase)
    • Attend the research lesson and provide final commentary (during the Teach phase)

    At the outset of your Lesson Study cycle, it is a good idea to think about who might provide good input to your work at each stage, and to schedule their time.

    A school-wide research theme (described in Study Step 2) gives additional power to a team’s Lesson Study work. Consider having your whole school develop the Research Theme, even if your school has just one Lesson Study team.