What is Lesson Study?

Why Lesson Study?

Lesson study is a powerful form of teacher-driven professional development. Lesson study is especially relevant to teachers because it is rooted in the classroom and grounded in the needs of your particular students. The process recognizes teachers as professionals, who act as both practitioners and researchers. During lesson study, teachers utilize the shared expertise within their group and bring to life ideas about how to improve instruction for the students they serve.

What is Lesson Study?

Lesson study involves the following major activities:

  1. Setting goals for student development and learning.
  2. Identifying a research lesson and modifying it to support the particular needs of students.
  3. Teaching the research lesson to a classroom of students and observing the students’ responses to the lesson in real time.
  4. Reflecting on the observation and examining student work to identify areas for improvement.
  5. Revising the research lesson to better support student development and learning.
  6. Repeating the observation and reflection of the research lesson.

What Aspects of Lesson Study Make it Desirable?

Lewis and Hurd (2011, p. 7) describe five features of lesson study that support continuous professional development for teachers:

  1. Lesson study values teachers, teaching, and the professional learning community and cultivates all of these to sustain instructional improvement.
  2. Lesson study provides an important new learning structure- the research lesson- where teachers gather data to inform instructional improvement. The research lesson brings together the ideas of teachers, research-based evidence, and state and national standards.
  3. Lesson study values the long-term learning and development of students. It helps teachers build both students’ academic learning and their development of important qualities, such as curiosity and persistence that will continue to improve student learning over time.
  4. Lesson study fosters teachers’ intrinsic motivation to continue improving their own teaching in collaborating with colleagues.
  5. Lesson study builds a shared knowledge base for teaching that can be tested in the classroom and refined among a collaborative group of teachers.

Lesson Study Misconceptions

  1. Lesson Study is lesson planning
  2. Lesson Study means writing lessons from scratch
  3. Lesson Study means writing a rigid "script"
  4. Lesson Study is writing the "perfect" lesson to be spread to others
  5. The research lesson is a demonstration lesson or expert lesson
  6. Lesson Study is basic research

-Catherine Lewis, Senior Research Scientist, Mills College