I love lesson study. I recently finished another cycle and I was thinking back to when I first learned about it. I remember talking with Sadie about my frustration of doing workshops and having some teachers say, “That sounds great and all, but I can’t do that with my kids.” Sadie pushed me to use lesson study as a way to help teachers see what their kids CAN do.
Adapting lesson study for the urban school I work with took some work. I spoke about the structures and systems we used at NCTM with an assistant principal, and dear friend, who has been a key player in making lesson study part of the school’s culture. Over the past two years, we’ve made modifications to lesson study that helped make it a sustainable initiative for the school.
Here’s the main reason I love lesson study: It is a vehicle for studying problems of practice. Many questions teachers and administrators have about teaching and learning can be explored in lesson study. Curious about how to adapt a new curriculum for your students? Let’s do lesson study. Want to explore how to do more problem-based lessons with your students? Let’s do lesson study. Want to explore how to help struggling students? Lesson study. It’s become such a part of the culture that that teachers will say, “I want to try out this idea I heard out, can we do a lesson study on it?”
I also love it because it’s collaborative. Too often, teachers are left on their own to solve problems of teaching and learning. Sure, they are helped accountable and given “feedback” during observations, but schools rarely provide them with the tools and support to examine the problems they are most interested in studying. Lesson study creates a risk free way to experiment with new ideas.
The same goes for administrators. Having assistant principals and principals involved in lesson study has been so helpful, even if they never taught math. They offer a different perspective to the group and they learn more about teaching and learning math.
It’s similar to what I love about research so it’s not a huge surprise that it’s the work I am so drawn to it. It’s also been the most successful PD I’ve been involved in. Given that I believe we learn by doing, it makes sense to me that we learn more when we are engaged in doing the work of teaching and learning together.
Want to read more about lesson study?
Check out the lessons study group at Mills College.
Check out the lesson study group at Teachers College: