Tag Archives: educators PLN

The Lesson Study Cycle

Following our first year of lesson study, we have changed the format in school for this academic year.   As a staff we spent time at the end of the summer term discussing the impact of LS to date and deciding on the best way forward.   We were all convinced that this was the right way to develop teaching and learning but felt it worth tweaking our approach to get more out of it.

As a three from entry primary we are well suited for the model we’ve developed.  Each term a different class in each year group becomes the research class.   The ‘host’ teacher works with their two year group colleagues to plan the lesson study and the three teachers (along with any support staff involved) write up their research.   This research is then shared by the host teacher at a lesson study staff meeting the following term.  Over the year each class in each year group will be the research class once, all teachers will take on the role of researcher/research teacher, and each will present research findings to staff.   All staff will have taken part in at least three lesson studies.   As in the past, we are restricted to two ‘formal’ research lessons during the cycle, due to timetabling and class cover required however, the impact of the research goes beyond the formal process and is instrumental in driving developments in teaching and learning. .

The cycle below outlines our current approach to lesson study

Planning Meeting 1
Agree and sign Lesson Study protocol
Agree on lesson to be taught, who is to teach it and area of focus from AfL work
Plan lesson in detail together as a research team with area of AfL focus in mind, considering any resources necessary and any pre lesson preparation.
Research lesson teacher to identify three pupils, broadly representative of the differing learning groups in the class. Teacher to identify how they think the pupils will respond at different points in the lesson, researchers complete proforma (planning, observation and discussion sheet)
Research Lesson 1
Camera set up prior to lesson to enable inconspicuous filming for class teacher’s reference. Researchers complete proforma whilst observing identified pupils (emphasis is on the learner response)
Researchers also record thoughts regarding AfL focus for feedback in post lesson discussion.
Post Lesson Pupil Interviews
Each researcher interviews identified pupil following the lesson using profroma (suggested questions for post lesson interview) encouraging pupils to answer fully and share any thoughts on the lesson and the learning
Post Lesson Discussion
Following the first research lesson (RL1) and pupil interviews, research team come back together. Session follows format below:
a) Teacher shares thoughts on the lesson/learning
b) Researchers take turn to share findings (notes) on pupil’s response to learning (how teacher thought they would respond/how they were observed to respond)
c) Researchers take turns to share post lesson pupil interview findings
d) Film footage shared (if necessary) to support findings. Footage then provided for teacher to view later
e) AfL focus discussed in general terms and researchers share any notes made during research lesson.
f) Next lesson discussed in light of findings from RL1, changes/amendments made as appropriate, children for observation agreed.
Research Lesson 2
Cycle begins again

Research is then written up by year group team and saved on the school server.   The host teacher then uses the research notes to inform presentation to staff.


Peer Observations

Something we’ve tried a couple of times at school is peer observations. The idea is really to build on the sharing of good practice combined with a supportive approach to lesson observations. We wanted to make the process a supportive, rather than a judgmental one, to take the fear and worry out of the equation and make it something staff would value and be able to build on and progress from. The process is refined a little more each time we do it but the feedback is positive and staff see this as something that is about building on existing strengths rather than criticising weaknesses.

When we first had a go at peer observations we left the focus down to staff to agree. This time around we have chosen an area that fits in more closely with our school development plan. The most important aspect is that this way of conducting observations gets staff out of their own class and into colleagues rooms to talk, share ideas, offer advice and agree one or two action points to take forward. The process asks staff to think carefully about a colleagues’ approach to support their professional development – this in turn asks staff to consider their own practice. It makes them think about what is working well for them, why and how it might be shared to benefit others.

We have also seen staff developing projects and collaborative approaches following peer observations which is really exciting. Y5 and Y1 children had a great time working together following last year’s round of peer observations, others too, have chosen to link up to create exciting learning opportunities for their classes following initial peer observations and discussions.

We are now considering how this approach might work across our network, enabling staff to build on this with colleagues in other schools. This is already happening with one or two classes in an informal way and the children are benefiting from the opportunity to work with their peers in other settings as much as the staff.

Does this process need formalising any further? I’m not sure. Would this ‘kill it’ for staff making it too much like regular observations? We ask for minimal paperwork – just enough to monitor and support the process. It will be interesting to see how this next round of peer observation develops, the process has changed each time following review and discussions. Staff see this way of operating as far more beneficial to their professional development and it has certainly supported professional dialogue, both formally and informally – not a bad thing at all.


The teacher and the surgeon

Here’s an often told story that puts educational change in perspective. I can’t remember where I first heard it but I’ve told it many times since to illustrate how slowly education is changing to meet the needs of today.

A teacher and a surgeon from 100 years ago were magically transported from their places of work to an operating theatre and classroom today.

The surgeon commented first.

“What’s this?” He cried. “What are all these machines for? These lights, these controls on the wall, the screen here that moves over the bed, are these cameras, what do these controls do? Does this go over your ears? What is all this? It is nothing like my operating theatre I would not know where to start or what to do. The world of the surgeon has completely and utterly changed.”

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