Lesson Observation or Lesson Study?

We have been using lesson study for a while now and although it isn’t new, it is still fairly new to us. I have written previously about the approach we have adopted in school and it is a constantly evolving model.  We have embraced this practitioner based classroom research with enthusiasm and commitment.   We are a school of advocates!  We have developed a model of lesson study based on the work of Dr Pete Dudley (@DrDudley13) and it has transformed our approach to CPD.

Rather than waiting for the next course/training/magic bullet to change our practice, we have developed an ongoing, devlopmental model that everyone buys into.

Many courses have very little impact beyond the delivery.  Changes and development in classroom practice are rare and impact on pupil learning scant at best.  Rather than invest time and money into such tried and tested approaches we adopted lesson study.   We have found that educational research is at it most potent in its native environment and classroom practitioners its most powerful exponents.

Lesson observations are a passive experience – teachers choosing to teach a safe lesson to avoid unwanted judgements does not move practice forward.  The scenario often played out goes something like this – teacher has observation looming, choses to teach something (previously taught) that shows them in a good light, observation sheet is completed by observer, evaluation is shared with teacher, teacher files away observation and process closes.  Until the next round of observations.   This evaluative, judgemental model does little to improve teaching and learning when compared with lesson study.

Because lesson study is research based it encourages staff to take risks, try new strategies and reflect with colleagues on the impact on pupil learning.   Because lessons are co- constructed and focus on learner response, teachers do not feel threatened.  Lesson observations can feel more like a personal judgement of the teacher than a supportive developmental process.   Lesson study encourages a collaborative approach to classroom practice and a level of (often collective) reflection seldom seen with the traditional lesson observation model.  It promotes a rich professional dialogue around teaching and learning and through carefully planned research lifts the lid on many of the tacit practices lived out in the classroom on a daily basis.  The evidence based approach and powerful pupil voice (learner response and post research lesson interviews) so important to lesson study make it a developmental model of classroom cpd that is proving instrumental in moving practice forward.

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About smichael920

Headteacher of a large primary school in North West England. Helping me to blur the distinction between work and home, I am also father of five, covering most phases of education thus giving me the lowdown from within and without. Education is about enjoying today and preparing for tomorrow. This can't be done using the tools of the past. View all posts by smichael920

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