Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

Collaborative, Reflective, and Iterative Japanese Lesson Study in an Initial Teacher Education Program: Benefits and Challenges

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

Collaborative, Reflective, and Iterative Japanese Lesson Study in an Initial Teacher Education Program: Benefits and Challenges

Article excerpt

To investigate benefits and challenges to engage teacher candidates in Japanese lesson study, defined as a collaborative, reflective, and iterative teacher development process, we analyzed reflective papers submitted by 60 teacher candidates studying at an Ontario faculty of education, engaged 20 practicum associate teachers in a group discussion, and considered the reflective notes of the course instructor (first author). Findings suggest that Japanese lesson study provides opportunities for teacher candidates to build professional learning communities, to deepen understanding of curriculum and pedagogy, and to develop habits of critical observation, analysis, and reflection. Although benefits of lesson study are numerous and significant, our research identified implementation challenges related to time, practicum placements, and the professional development of associate teachers.

Key Words: professional learning communities, reflective practice, teacher collaboration

En vue d'analyser les avantages et les defis relies h l'etude de lemon japonaise, une methode de formation a l'enseignement axee sur la collaboration, la reflexion et l'iteration, les auteurs ont (1) analyse les reflexions ecrites de 60 candidats l'enseignement etudiant dans une Faculte d'education en Ontario, (2) reuni 20 enseignants associes pour une discussion en groupe et (3) analyse les notes de l'instructeur du cours. Les observations ainsi colligees donnent a penser que l'etude de lecons japonaises permet aux futurs enseignants de creer des communautes d'apprentissage professionnelles, de mieux comprendre le curriculum et la pedagogie et de developper des habitudes d'observation, d'analyse et de reflexion critiques. Bien que les avantages de l'etude de lecon soient nombreux et importants, cette recherche met en lumiere les difficultes que pose sa mise en oeuvre, notamment le temps requis, les endroits h trouver pour les stages et le perfectionnement professionnel des enseignants associes.

Mots cles : communautes d'apprentissage professionnelles, pratique reflexive, collaboration du personnel enseignant.

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"The Japanese say that lesson study develops the eyes to see children." (Richardson, 2000)

To prepare teachers for the twenty-first century is to prepare them to be leaders, role models, and active participants in a rapidly changing world, influenced by what scholars have characterized as a learning age (Lee, 1997; Matheson & Matheson, 2000; Methven & Hansen, 1997). Scientific advancements that are changing every aspect of human activity require individuals to develop habits of inquiry and lifelong learning in their professional and personal lives. Like their colleagues before them, teachers in the twenty-first century will be required to engage in continuous professional learning and to consider their interactions with students as dynamic and dialogical instances of mutual learning (Pan, 1997). Because learning is a fundamentally social phenomenon occurring through intentional and active engagement in communities of practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Wenger, 1998), teachers, as adult learners, require opportunities to form professional learning communities to provide occasions to validate, share, and extend prior experience and knowledge (Seng & Hwee, 1997). The challenge for teacher educators is to provide opportunities for teacher candidates to develop habits of continuous professional learning and to foster and generate change in educational cultures that have been historically resistant to change despite rapid changes in the world.

Lesson study is a school-based, collaborative, professional development process by which Japanese teachers seek to improve the teaching and learning that occurs in their classrooms (Stigler & Hiebert, 1999). It is credited with the marked changes and ongoing teacher development that have occurred in Japanese classrooms over the past five decades (Lewis & Tsuchida, 1997), a situation that contrasts with the apparent lack of change in many Western classrooms (Stigler & Hiebert, 1999). …

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