"Lesson Study" Professional Development through Viewing and
I'm a seasoned staff developer with over twenty years of
One thing I have learned outside the classroom that I apply
in-house is when I want to learn a skill, I find a great model!
I learned golf recently, and I have the beginnings of a good
game because I chose a great model to learn from...and this
theory lives in the client engagements that make up my
consulting practice with schools.
To accomplish this, I use a modified approach to the Japanese
framework for teaching math, called, "Lesson Study". The model
consists of three parts: Planning a Lesson, Conducting a Lesson,
Debriefing the Lesson. If you are a staff developer, it is a
tool that you can easily incorporate into your repertoire for
results. Viewing and Listening to an accomplished teacher is a
powerful way for professionals to take on a new initiative. But
simply modeling is not enough. The Planning and Reflecting that
is part of the Lesson Study, makes for lasting change.
Whenever I use Lesson Study, and I have used it in HS classrooms
in Houston and Kindergarten Classrooms in New Jersey, two very
different places...it is always successful! Teachers like the
active nature of planning a lesson, then watching me demo, then
watching the kids try the skill being taught, and the debriefing
for next steps.
The following Framework may be useful to create a "soft version'
of this Japanese PD approach:
Conducting Lesson Study
1. Choose a Skill to Teach ---With the teaching community who
will be viewing the lesson, choose a very narrow skill to
present! It's important that teachers have ownership here...Yet,
you want to guide and facilitate so that the topic isn't too
big...That results in YOU falling flat on your face in front of
the group, so--shape the teachers' view. You will be on stage
and you want the lesson tight!
2.Prepare the Group--Spend at least twenty minutes prior to the
lesson talking about the skill, how it has been taught ,and the
difference in the lesson for the study. Ask the teachers
questions about the kids so you can connect to the learners in
3. Prepare a Handout --- Focus the feedback with something like
What is the Topic of the Study? What do you Hope to see from
the Lesson? What did you Observe the Students Doing? What does
the Data( the work completed) Suggest? What are your next
4. Conduct the Lesson with High Energy--These are not your
students, so get them comfortable quickly! Use humor and some
strategies to connect you and help you manage the room of new
learners...Have kids wear name tags! Ask for eye contact and
quiet as you work. Try to have the kids focus on you, and not on
the adults in the room.When students work on the skill you have
demonstrated, teachers can mingle in the room and even talk to
students. Teachers can collecting thinking data to see how the
kids are processing the task!
5. Debrief--Review the lesson after the classroom time. Use the
framework to facilitate and spend at least about 30 minutes with
your group. Spend time talking about what the children did.( I
have plenty of funny stories about what I did teaching a roomful
of strangers, but save that for later!) Look at the student work
as your precious data you are mining. It is just that!
6. Next Steps--Close with the discussion of how each teacher
might tweak the lesson in his or her room. If the group can meet
again, have teachers bring data from their own lesson, thus
creating a real Lesson Study community: Teachers learning from