Lesson Study in Initial Teacher Education: Principles and Practices

Cover of Lesson Study in Initial Teacher Education: Principles and Practices

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(17 chapters)

Prelims

Pages i-xii
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Abstract

Recent decades have seen a growing consensus that as the demands on teachers becomes increasingly complex, improving the effectiveness of both initial teacher education (ITE) and career-long professional development is key to school improvement. ITE in particular has been for too long polarised at policy level, between ‘theory-led’ and ‘practice-led’ approaches. This chapter discusses how this polarisation is simplistic and unhelpful and highlights the benefits of the more constructive orientation towards a synergistic relationship between theory and practice that can occur, particularly when schools and universities collaborate closely in bringing new teachers into the profession. This chapter sets the scene for subsequent chapters in this book by signalling the potential for the collaborative inquiry-based lesson study model into ITE to enhance partnerships between schools and universities and contribute to a smooth transition from ITE into lifelong professional learning.

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This chapter aims to give a general overview of the history and philosophy of lesson study together with a general outline of a typical lesson study cycle. It also aims to address the use of lesson study as a useful tool in the professional development of both pre- and in-service teachers. Finally, it will look at possibilities of using lesson study as the basis of a new partnership agreement between higher education institutions and schools which will benefit all parties.

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Lesson study has become a popular approach for supporting the development of student-teachers within initial teacher education (ITE) programmes. In a short space of time, the original model of lesson study, originating in Japan, has been adapted to fit into the work contexts of different national systems and ITE provider structures. This chapter classifies the different emerging models of lesson study into three main groups, university and hybrid approaches, practicum approaches and heterodox approaches. Learning study is also considered, due to its developing popularity, as a practice development approach. Having outlined the different models of lesson study used in ITE, the authors go on to outline some of the main challenges and advantages of participating in lesson study which have been identified in the literature.

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This chapter discusses the focus of learning in lesson study research in initial teacher education. Whose learning should be considered in lesson study cycles? The learning of the student-teachers, the learning of the pupils or both? Relevance theory implies that meaningful interaction develops as a consequence of the heuristic interplay between the communicative and the cognitive principles of relevance, that is, the dynamics of any given interaction create meaning as the interactional process unfolds and relevance is maximised. The participants in the interaction at hand will thus create the best solution in any given set of circumstances. They will subconsciously strive towards the most relevant outcome of their interaction, which equals maximisation of relevance irrespective of the quality of the outcome. This approach will be used to discuss the role of the student-teachers and the pupils in learning processes and lesson study cycles. The student-teachers influence the interactional process from the point of view of the communicative principle of relevance, and the pupils influence the interactional process from the point of view of the cognitive principle of relevance. These dynamics will also have a bearing on the unfolding of the lesson study cycle, and consequently imply that lesson study research should take into account the learning of both the student-teachers and the pupils from the point of view of collaborative learning and reflective practices.

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This chapter explores the benefits of joint lesson planning for student-teachers in two higher educational settings, one in Norway and the other in the UK. Lesson study is used as a vehicle for collaborative planning and teacher professional learning during field-practice in both contexts, but the models of lesson study implemented differ slightly to fit the respective initial teacher education (ITE) programmes. In both settings, however, student-teachers, mentor teachers and university tutors work in pairs or small groups to plan, teach and evaluate a research lesson together. The case studies reported in this chapter show the challenges which student-teachers face, but, at the same time, also reveal the potential of lesson study to open a dialogic space where they can share ideas with more experienced colleagues, gain greater awareness of the teaching and learning process and so become more effectively inducted into this community of practice. The chapter also explores the role of the ‘knowledgeable other(s)’, the issue of asymmetrical relationships in lesson study groups within the context of ITE and how this might impact on the learning of the different group members. Collaborative planning in lesson study groups in ITE is found to bridge the gap between what student-teachers learn during teacher training courses and what actually takes place in schools in the respective socio-cultural contexts discussed here.

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This chapter focusses on the complexity of observation, considering its role in lesson study, following a broader discussion of how observation is generally understood in teaching contexts. The authors argue that lesson study observation is formative and should not be performative in focus. In lesson study cycles, observation is a process conducted among peers ideally in a spirit of mutual support and collaborative inquiry, seeking to find answers to pedagogic challenges rather than measuring the effectiveness of individual teachers.

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This chapter explores the use of three different approaches to capturing other perspectives in lesson study: lesson artefacts, pupil voice and pupil participatory approaches. Lesson artefacts and pupil voice appear to be the more common, whereas pupil participatory approaches are more recent initiatives in a lesson study context. Observation of pupils provides one perspective, but is limited because, among other things, it does not include the pupils’ perspectives. These approaches, especially when used together in triangulation, can provide a broader and potentially deeper understanding of pupil learning.

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This chapter focusses on the role of reflective practices within initial teacher education courses and the context of the practicum and the role that school-based mentors have in helping student-teachers to learn the skills of ‘reading’ the classroom. It will also discuss how lesson study can support student-teachers and their school-based mentors in their collaborative planning, execution and discussions so that their reflections can be used to further their professional development. Finally, suggestions will be made to support the reflective development of student-teachers.

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This chapter examines how lesson study is reported with pre-service teachers in initial teacher education programmes. Different voices are included talking about the ways in which lesson study has been reported in various settings so far. The chapter concludes with a qualitative study of student-teachers’ reflections drawn from their reports, written after finalising the lesson study cycle at the Universidad Católica de Valencia. The analysis provides support for the premise that lesson study significantly promotes research in ITE and develops a more critical approach to literature about pedagogy and good practice in teaching.

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Learning to teach effectively is a complex enterprise, and many efforts have been made in order to conceptualise the challenging work of teaching by identifying fundamental teaching practices. Findings reported from structured literature reviews on lesson study have revealed that incorporating a lesson study approach in Initial Teacher Education is challenging. This chapter considers how lesson study might adapt fundamental teaching practices and make use of new tools to enhance lesson study as an approach for improving student-teachers’ teaching practice. The four tools discussed here are lesson study with given activities, practicing talk moves in lesson study, rehearsing research lessons and research lessons with time-outs. The authors argue that these activities are tools which can help student-teachers enhance their learning of the complex work of teaching when involved in lesson study cycles. To illustrate these approaches, we use examples from the teaching of mathematics.

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This chapter considers ways in which lesson study may be introduced and sustained within the school–university partnerships that already exist within an initial teacher education (ITE) course. In particular, the authors describe the challenges and opportunities associated with ITE lesson study partnerships and ways in which lesson study can deepen and even transform the nature of the school–university partnership. The authors draw on third-generation Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (Engeström, 2001) to highlight pre-service teachers’ roles as ‘boundary crossers’ between the activity system of the university ITE course and the activity system of the school department in which they are placed. The authors argue that pre-service teachers, despite their inexperience as teachers, have an important opportunity to introduce the practices of lesson study that they are learning about into the schools in which they are placed. They are also able to promote approaches to lesson planning and observation that support the values of the course and thus, through mentor development, strengthen the school–university partnership more widely than the specific lesson studies carried out. The authors outline three models for productive ITE lesson study partnerships, and argue that even a relatively small number of lesson study events throughout the school year can establish the beginnings of a transformation in the school culture away from a performative focus on evaluating the teacher and towards a more productive focus on school students’ learning. This, in turn, deepens the partnership between university and school by aligning both parties more closely around a shared focus on studying learning.

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In initial teacher education (ITE) there is interest in developing the use of lesson study as it is seen as a positive tool for aiding student-teachers in developing their pedagogic understanding and practice. However, there are often concerns about the potential sustainability of lesson study in teacher preparation programmes which are already very intensive, requiring a great deal of work from school-based mentors and university tutors as well as student-teachers. This intensity leads to a number of competing priorities and a belief that the time taken to complete lesson study projects is not sustainable in the long term. In this chapter the author discusses how a consideration of the complex nature of time can help reframe the issues of sustainability of lesson study projects in ITE contexts. A number of studies from the literature are used to exemplify how a consideration of how the amount of time needed to complete a project and the rhythms of the school year, can lead to the use of different approaches to lesson study which are sensitive to the timescapes of any given context.

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Much of the lesson study research in initial teacher education (ITE) is focussed on single cases and pilot projects. As a result, there is very little consideration of the wider cultural and organisational issues which need to be considered if lesson study is to become embedded within ITE partnerships in the longer term. The move from novelty to sustainability is not an easy one but is rarely considered within the LS literature. Here, the authors argue that Normalisation Process Theory, a framework first developed in the medical, health and social care sphere can be used to offer a wider, organisation-level perspective on successfully embedding lesson study in ITE partnerships.

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This chapter seeks to explain how lesson study can contribute to the growth of teacher expertise, enabling the participants to work together to address the complexity of teaching and grow what we call ‘pedagogic literacy’, a holistic but incomplete glimpse of what it means to be a teacher. The model proposed is not complete and cannot be complete given the endless complexity of the classroom. Lesson study, we conclude, is a vehicle for enabling teachers to grow their understanding of teaching and learning, while drawing on a complex web of underpinning interconnected dimensions that teachers develop throughout the varied stages of their careers.

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Lesson study in initial teacher education (ITE) has started to gain in popularity across many jurisdictions. However, much of the research literature suggests that the uptake is small-scale and experimental in nature. This chapter reflects on some of the ways in which lesson study might become a more systems-led approach, and an embedded part of the work of ITE. It uses a spatio-temporal approach to consider how the use of lesson study might develop at different scales and over different time periods.

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Index

Pages 215-220
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Cover of Lesson Study in Initial Teacher Education: Principles and Practices
DOI
10.1108/9781787567979
Publication date
2019-11-29
Editors
ISBN
978-1-78756-797-9