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Learning to learn from teaching: a first-hand account of lesson study in Japan

Bradley A. Ermeling (Pearson Research and Innovation Network, Tustin, California, USA)
Genevieve Graff-Ermeling (Orange Lutheran High School, Orange, California, USA)

International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies

ISSN: 2046-8253

Article publication date: 27 May 2014




Over the last 15 years, Japanese lesson study has attracted growing interest as an alternative to conventional teacher professional development. Despite its popularity and results, the descriptive knowledge base of authentic lesson study in Japan is still limited to a few cases from elementary math and science teachers. The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the expansion of the lesson study descriptive knowledge base by offering a first-hand account of two American educators’ experience with lesson study at the secondary level while working as licensed teachers in a Japanese school.


Using an autoethnographic case study methodology, the authors document their personal experience working through a complete lesson study cycle with a ninth grade English course in Japan, systematically reconstructed from field texts and deliberate co-construction techniques.


The paper describes significant cognitive and socio-cultural adjustments that were required to participate in the process, and highlights essential skills and mindsets for lesson study: fashioning a coherent lesson storyline, articulating and testing working hypotheses, relying on evidence to guide planning and reflection, embracing collective ownership of improvement, and persisting with problems over time.


This first-hand account provides a distinctive inside look at lesson study from an American perspective and offers a rare description of Japan-based lesson study at the secondary level. The detailed records and insights contribute to researchers and practitioners emerging understanding of prerequisite skills for lesson study.



© 2014, Brad & Genevieve Ermeling


A. Ermeling, B. and Graff-Ermeling, G. (2014), "Learning to learn from teaching: a first-hand account of lesson study in Japan", International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies, Vol. 3 No. 2, pp. 170-191.



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Copyright © 2014, Authors

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