Starting a new charter school is exciting. For all the controversy that charter’s school have, one thing that is unmistakeable, is that it does allow the group starting the school to have a new start and the ability to take your past knowledge and experience, and shape things in new ways.
One of the things we are working to implement in our school is using Lesson Study as one of the primary methods of professional development. For those unfamiliar with Lesson Study, it is a method of improving instruction that came from Japan, although its roots come from the PDSA cycle that Deming (an American), brought to Japan, and the PDSA cycle comes from an applied form of the “scientific method”. I also discovered recently, that Lesson Study is very similar to how Teacher Education in Finland occurs, as can be clearly seen in the documentary, The Finland Phenomenon.
So what is Lesson Study? It is basically having a group of teachers work together to decide about what they want to improve in a lesson, plan a lesson for improvement, do the lesson with the team observing, then working together to understand how the lesson could have worked better, and then repeating this cycle as needed. (Click on the diagram to see the full cycle). In other words, it is basically working to have continual improvement, recognizing that we are not perfect, and that we can gain value from our peers.
I hope this year I will be able to post, and our teachers will be able to post, about their successes and challenges with using lesson study as a tool towards improvement.