Lesson Study is a form of professional development based around teachers collaborating to design a research lesson. Lesson Study is recognised internationally as being the most-effective form of professional development in changing classroom practices. Teaching through structured problem solving is widely acknowledged to develop students’ ability to think mathematically and to solve problems.
A full Lesson-Study cycle involves five meetings outside of school time and one inside school time. Usually each meeting lasts between 2 and 2.5 hours. During these meetings the research group identify a topic of mathematics which students struggle with and design a single lesson around this which will improve students’ conceptual understanding. While on the face of it designing a single lesson appears to be a simple task, the Lesson-Study process asks teachers to consider and discuss a number of aspects of teaching and learning pertaining to the lesson. These include:
- How the lesson will meet the School Self Evaluation standards currently being worked on by their school
- How the lesson will meet the expectations of the new Junior Cycle framework (including key skills and statements of learning)
- Why the identified topic is proving so difficult for students
- What approaches are currently used across the school in teaching the topic
- What prior knowledge students have before studying this topic
- Where this topic is needed by students in their future learning of mathematics
- How the lesson fits into a larger unit of work
The depth of this process provides some insight as to why Lesson Study is so effective in changing classroom practice. While teachers work on designing a single lesson, the deep discussion they have with their colleagues around teaching mathematics makes for incredibly rich professional development which focuses on classroom practice.
Mathematics teachers in St. Mary’s have engaged with lesson study over the last three years. Having a PDST Lesson Study Associate within the department has created the opportunity for all teachers in the department to have taken part in at least one cycle of lesson study. In 2018 teachers from the maths department presented a workshop at Maths Count 2018 on their lesson proposal and their experience of the lesson study process. St. Mary’s Lesson Study Lesson Proposals are attached and Lesson Posters are displayed in the school.