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How Japanese school administrators support their teachers in conducting school-based lesson study

Presentation at the 9the Annual Chicago Lesson Study Conference

Akihiko Takahashi

on 16 December 2013

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Transcript of How Japanese school administrators support their teachers in conducting school-based lesson study

Listening to experts during special professional development days does not translate into improved teaching. Effective teacher learning
must be built into teachers’ daily and weekly schedules.
Schools must become the places where teachers, not just students, learn.

Stigler, J. W., & Hiebert, J. (2009). Closing the Teaching Gap. Phi Delta Kappan, 91(03), 32-37.
In order to improve the teaching of math in the United States, we need to engage students in exploring mathematical relationships and wrestling with key mathematical ideas. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to achieve this goal simply by identifying best practices.

Stigler, J. W., & Hiebert, J. (2009). Closing the Teaching Gap. Phi Delta Kappan, 91(03), 32-37.
Phase 1 professional development
Phase 1 professional development focuses on developing the knowledge for teaching mathematics, which includes: content knowledge of mathematics, pedagogical content knowledge for teaching mathematics, curricular knowledge for designing lessons, and pedagogical knowledge
This type of professional development usually provides teachers opportunities to learn through reading books and resources, listening to lectures, and watching visual resources such and video and demonstration lessons.
−How Japanese school administrators support their teachers in conducting school-based lesson study
Young, J. W. A. (1906). Teaching of Mathematics in The Elementary and The Secondary School. New York: Longman, Green, and Co. p.38
Takahashi, A. (2011). The Japanese approach to developing expertise in using the textbook to teach mathematics rather than teaching the textbook. In Y. Li & G. Kaiser (Eds.), Expertise in Mathematics Instruction: An international perspective. New York: Springer.
Two Major Types of Professional Development
Phase 2 professional development
Phase 2 professional development, on the other hand, focuses on developing expertise for teaching mathematics, including: skill for developing lessons for particular students, questioning techniques, designing and implementing formative assessments, anticipating students responses to the questions, and purposeful observation of students during class.
Teachers should plan the lesson carefully, teach the lesson based on the lesson plan, and reflect upon the teaching and learning based on the careful observation. Japanese teachers and educators usually go through this process using Lesson Study.

Begins with answer
Driven by outside “expert”
Communication flow: trainer to teachers
Hierarchical relations between trainer & learners
Research informs practice
Lesson Study

Begins with question
Driven by participants
Communication flow: among teachers
Reciprocal relations among learners
Practice is research
Lewis, C. (2002b). Lesson study: A handbook of teacher-led instructional improvement. Philadelphia: Research for Better Schools.
Purpose of the mathematics classroom is to help students
The student should acquire as much experience of independent work as possible.
But if he is left alone with his problem without any help or with insufficient help, he may make no progress at all.
If teacher helps too much, nothing is left to the student.
The teacher should help, but not too much and not too little, so that student shall have reasonable share of the work.

If student is not able to do much the teacher should leave him at least some illusion of independent work.
The best is, however, to help the student naturally. The teacher should put himself in the student’s place, he should see the student’s case, he should try to understand what is going on in the student’s mind, and ask a question or indicate a step that could have occurred to the student himself.
Polya, G. (1945). How to solve it: A new aspect of mathematical method. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
Knowing the content that is written in the textbooks is the most important foundation to be a teacher, however it is not enough to be an effective teacher.
Three Levels of Teaching

Level 1: Teachers can tell students important basic ideas of mathematics such as facts, concepts, and procedures.

Level 2: Teachers can explain the meanings and reasons of the important basic ideas of mathematics in order for students to understand them.

Level 3: Teachers can provide students opportunities to understand these basic ideas, and support their learning so that the students become independent learners.
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