Over the last few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to be part of a Japanese-style Lesson Study cycle centred around Algebraic Thinking. I’ve enjoyed it for a number of reasons:
- Having time to consider big picture questions as opposed to putting out everyday fires
- Delving deep with my colleagues on a topic of interest
- Observing my peers in their classrooms and having structured debriefs afterwards
- Being required to reflect
At our very first group meeting, we read an article that introduced us to the Japanese lesson study model. One sentence stuck with me: “Lesson study can also strengthen the belief that improvement in teaching is possible.” It seems simple at first, but I found the sentence profound, because it also implies that there are specific steps that can be taking to improve your instruction and pedagogy. You may have heard that people overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what they can do in 5. By considering and implementing a targeted, continual improvement plan, we really should be able to see tangible changes in our teaching practice.
That same article also encouraged us to think beyond the curriculum and what we are expected to teach. It opened up the conversation to questions like “What kind of people do we hope our students will become?”, and how do we support that in the way that we teach. It gives us a chance to reframe our limitations and responsibilities to better align ourselves with the goal of education, not just schooling.
As the Lesson Study draws to a close, I find myself pondering how this experience will change my practice. Without a doubt, it has solidified some collegial bridges that I’ve built over the last year, and has given me a new structure within which to consider my professional development. I can only hope for more great things to come in the future.