Research corner

15th May 2015 at 01:00
Each week, we highlight education research conducted by teachers. Here, David Hall, a senior teacher at Samuel Whitbread Academy in Bedfordshire, explains how he used a 140-year-old Japanese teaching methodology called jugyokenkyu (meaning "lesson study") to develop teachers as active researchers

What?

Lesson study is a process of bridging the gap between research and practice. Teachers conduct their own research in small teams called "triads". In these groups, they plan a "study lesson" where one aspect of teaching - or a new intervention or approach - is placed under the microscope. The teachers then share and analyse their reflections.

Why?

David Hall, pictured, wanted to set up a school-wide lesson study programme at Samuel Whitbread Academy. His aim was to prompt staff to engage in their own research and to provide an opportunity for colleagues to experiment with and explore aspects of their work in a supportive group setting.

How?

First, David created a leadership team to manage the lesson study process. Triad teams were then created in every department. Each group was assigned a designated leader, although all members provided input into the lesson study process. Triad leaders reported to their heads of department during the process and at the end of the year all the participants came together to discuss their triad's overall findings.

Over a period of four months, each triad group planned a "study lesson" with a research question as its focus. They then identified three target students in the class, on whose progress the study lesson would be critiqued. One teacher taught the study lesson as the others observed the pedagogy and the target students. After the study lesson, all members of the group critiqued it. Based on this analysis, a second study lesson was conducted. After three cycles of this process, a final critique was made and the group produced a report of their study lesson and what it had taught them.

The results

Heads of department praised the measure as a safe and supportive environment for teachers to learn in. One commented that it was "great working together, sharing ideas in our teams", and another said that lesson study had "led to better planning and more sharing of ideas".

Teachers found that the lesson study flourished and grew beyond the triads. Research-gathering gained a more social aspect a culture of sharing developed across departments.

The impact

Dave Goode, an assistant principal at Samuel Whitbread, said lesson study had definitely contributed to the school's evolution from a model of top-down performance management to an individual-led, enquiry-based system of professional development.

Teachers were inspired by colleagues' research, and many are now considering the next steps in their own practice. David has since created a sharing event, where teachers can show off their research and produce posters to help other triad groups to understand their methodologies and research.

He is also creating a research platform where teachers can share, organise and distil their research across departments.

To share your research findings, email william.martin@tesglobal.com

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