Add action research to your next PLC or professional development meeting with Lesson Study!

Professional Learning Communities, or PLCs, are becoming more and more common in our schools. While the idea behind them is fantastic, they are not always the most productive part of your day. On a good day time is spent planning units and analyzing assessment data, but I’m sure we all have had a meeting get off track causing you to leave the meeting wondering what, exactly, was accomplished in that hour. Lesson Study may be answer you are looking for!

What is Lesson Study?

lesson studyLesson Study is a Japanese model of collaborative professional development through action research. In this model, a small group of teachers work together to plan a unit of instruction to meeting specific student learning goals. Sound familiar? The action research part is what makes this unique and extremely valuable. Once the lesson is designed, one teacher implements the lesson in their class while the other members of the group observe. Finally, the group comes together to reflect on the lesson and how it could be revised for the other members or how it could be applied to subsequent lessons in the unit.

Lesson Study has been shown to improve student progress towards learning goals due to the link between teacher learning and student learning. This is an ideal form of professional development since you as the teacher get immediate feedback while also collaborating with your peers.

How to Implement Lesson Study

If you would like to bring Lesson Study into your PLC or school, the Teacher Development Trust Network suggests three steps to make it happen. As you will see, it becomes a cycle over an entire unit.

1. Plan

The first step is to plan a lesson or set of lessons together as a group. This includes identifying learning goals and sharing resources. To set up your action research, hypothesize or predict how the students will respond to the lesson. What will they get from it? Lastly, select a few students to focus on during the lesson observation. This will make data collection more attainable and goals more specific.

lesson study2. Observe

Once the planning is done, it is time to observe! Select one teacher to present the lesson while the other members of the group observe it in action. Observers should focus on the learning goals discussed and the reactions and interactions of the identified students. The observers may collect additional data during this time, including informal interviews with the students or analysis of assessments.

3. Reflect

Once the lesson has been taught and observed, bring the group back together to reflect. Did the lesson meet the learning goals? Were your predictions correct? Try to focus on not only how this lesson could be revised, but also how this may impact future lessons in the unit. You can continue this step with self-reflection using these tips.


Then the process starts again! Another teacher implements the revisions and is observed by the group. The challenge of Lesson Study is to make effective observations that are beyond the surface level. This is why selecting students to focus on assists in formulating an in-depth analysis. While observing, ask yourself how the lesson is impacting these students, how much they are learning, and if the lesson goals were met.

Consider adding Lesson Study to your next PLC or professional development meeting in order to gain some valuable information about your classroom. This will not only help you become a better teacher, but also improve the understanding of your students!

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