This week’s module focused on the implementation of two types of job-embedded professional learning: learning circles and lesson study. Both require teachers to work collaboratively to identify problems and discuss strategies for improving student learning. Both identify a sequence of phases teachers follow to guide them through the learning process. I think both of these types of learning allow teachers to develop trusting relationships with colleagues and work towards solving a common problem as a team. The process also allows opportunities for all teacher voices to be heard and relies on the teacher to drive the professional learning. The teacher is involved in the research, implementation of the lessons, and reflection to improve instructional strategies.
Lesson study reminds me of work we are doing in our PLC. In our PLC, we focus on a specific problem we notice based on what we observe in student work. The protocol we use follows a sequence of steps. First we analyze and set goals: What high-priority content must our students master as a result of our teaching? What specific learning challenges do our students face in terms of learning that content? Next, we examine current teaching practices: What instructional changes do we need to make? Finally, we implement, review, and revise goals: What effect did the instructional changes have (based on the data/student work)? What do we plan to do next? Similarly, lesson study focuses on a specific learning goal. Zepeda (2012) explains, “Questions dealing with the level or depth of understanding desired, the assessments that will be used to determine the degree of understanding, and the strategies that will be most suitable need to be asked and debated” (p. 227). This type of job-embedded learning allows the teachers to be the researchers.
What lesson study offers that I think would improve the work of our PLC team is the opportunity to be the researcher. According to Zepeda (2012), “Conducting the research involves the actual teaching of planned research lessons. These lessons involve a team of teachers observing and collecting data as one teacher teaches the lesson” (p. 227). Rather than just sharing instructional strategies with team members, the team members are observing to help the teacher improve and to see instructional strategies used in action. Rather than solely looking at student work, teachers are also observing the instruction and student responses. Another teacher observing gives the teacher another set of eyes to informally assess student understanding. Zepeda (2012) states, “When teachers analyze and discuss instructional practice and the resulting samples of student work, they experience some of the highest caliber professional development available” (p.233). I think this definitely involves a trusting relationship with team members and a lot of time in order to be able to observe other teachers. However, I think this would be the next step in enhancing our professional learning. Not only could we serve as another set of eyes for other teachers but we also learn new strategies to improve our own instructional practice.
Zepeda, S. (2012). Professional development: What works (2nd ED). Larchmont, NY: Eye On Education