School-wide Lesson Study

In school-wide Lesson Study, teams at a school focus on a long-term vision for student learning, using Lesson Study to test and refine ideas to bring that vision to life.

An elementary-age male student points while his female teacher stands beside him and observes

I’ve worked in education for 15 years and school-wide Lesson Study is the only thing I’ve ever seen that provided a school-wide structure for continuing professional development and continuing thoughtfulness about teaching practice.
—Andrew Friesema, Instructional Coach, Chicago

What is School-Wide Lesson Study?

School-wide Lesson Study flows back and forth across three types of activity:
  • Working as a whole staff, educators choose an element of the school vision to work on, study what is known, and choose improvement ideas to test
  • Working in Lesson Study teams, educators bring the improvement ideas to life in research lessons, so colleagues can see, discuss, and refine these ideas
  • Working daily in classrooms, educators enact and refine what they have learned from school-wide work and Lesson Study teams
The graphic below shows the interplay of these three types of activity.
Dr. Jorge Prieto Math and Science Academy, a Chicago public school, has used School-wide Lesson Study since 2012 to build students’ mathematical problem-solving, as they describe in the videos below.

What Are the Benefits of School-wide Lesson Study?

School-wide Lesson Study builds common purpose. Educators work together to bring to life their shared vision of student learning, and they benefit from each other’s work.

Teachers build shared…

Knowledge of academic content–for example, how understanding of place value builds over grade levels

Practices—such as accountable talk—that support the school’s vision

Commitment to colleagues’ learning and to the learning of our students (not just my students)

Students experience…

Coherent instruction aligned with the school’s long-term vision—so that the knowledge and habits students build in the early grades are valued and strengthened each year of schooling

See how the school’s vision for student learning is faring in classrooms, and can identify what is needed to support continued improvement
Have a powerful tool, public research lessons, to support teacher-led instructional change and dissemination across sites

Lisa Cowles, a San Francisco teacher, noted that Lesson Study is more than a set of practices:

Lesson study is just as much a state of mind as it is a practice. It’s a desire to learn from others and those more experienced, a desire to continue growing in your practice, a sense of responsibility within the community to support and encourage one another’s growth.

An Overview of Our Resources

Envision explores examples of how schools have put their research themes into action.

Plan focuses on strategies to build school-wide Lesson Study, often starting from one or two “pioneer” Lesson Study teams. It considers scheduling strategies and how to carry knowledge across different settings (school-wide meetings, team meetings, classrooms).

Start supports the initial work of building your research theme, theory of action, and indicators of progress.

Manage describes the tasks that need to be managed for school-wide Lesson Study to succeed, and explores using a Steering Committee as one way to do this.

Go Public explores how a school-wide Lesson Study can support change within a district, region, or even more broadly.