Lesson study reminds us that lesson observation has a long history – the idea was developed in Japan at least 140 years ago (1)! A good, simple description of the approach is given by the Teacher Development Trust – ‘model of teacher-led research in which three teachers work together to target an identified area for development in their students’ learning’ (2).

Lesson study can be seen as a ‘breath of fresh air’ for teachers who are used to ‘tick box’ or graded observations.

The teachers come up with an ‘enquiry question’, plan lessons together, observe each other teaching (with a focus on specific identified students) and reflect on how the lesson addressed the specific development area.

Three advantages of lesson study over lesson observation are:

  • A more constructive approach. Rather than the success criteria for an observation being imposed on classroom teachers, they are able to choose issues that affect them directly.
  • The chance to work together with colleagues. Having more time set aside to discuss teaching and learning in an autonomous way is a great way of what is lesson studymotivating and re-energising teachers (3).
  • Findings that can be applied immediately. Because lesson study happens in individual schools, teachers can be confident that new ideas that work for one teachers have a high chance of working for another one – and they can also go back to their lesson study triad for further support as they implement the ideas.

The main disadvantage of lesson observation is:

The time needed for the process – having two members of staff watch another lesson is often complicated to organise and requires significant cover. ONVU Learning’s Lessonvu video system offers an elegant solution to this – by recording lessons and sharing them with other teachers at a time of their convenience the need for cover is reduced.

The evidence for the effectiveness of lesson study is generally positive – as seen in these two articles.

· David Godfrey, Sarah Seleznyov, Jake Anders, Nicholas Wollaston & Fabián Barrera-Pedemonte (2019) A developmental evaluation approach to lesson study: exploring the impact of lesson study in London schools, Professional Development in Education, 45:2, 325-340 (4)

· Wai Ming Cheung, Wing Yee Wong, (2014) “Does Lesson Study work?: A systematic review on the effects of Lesson Study and Learning Study on teachers and students”, International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies, Vol. 3 Issue: 2, pp.137-149 (5)

A further study by the Education Endowment Foundation found that Lesson Study made no impact – the findings of this research are discussed here by David Weston of the Teacher Development Trust (6).

We’ll be launching “The Lesson Observation Guide” soon.

If you’d like to explore how lesson observation can drive real change in schools including embedding reflective research, subscribe to our newsletter to get a copy of the guide.

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