ERG SES C 12, Education Practices
Norwegian and international research show that reflection based on concrete observation is the best basis for the development of practice, and that teachers experience that their own daily practice and workplace constitute the most important arena for developing professional competency (Timperley, Wilson, Barrar, & Fung, 2007). Schools that perform well are collective learning organizations where educators are reflective in their practice, innovative in using dialogues, have a basic understanding of developing both individually and collectively, and continually work together to build the school’s future. In a learning organization, the individual experiences themselves as significant and as having influence on the creative processes (Senge, 1992).
Lesson Study is a well-documented method for the professional development of teachers that can be used to enhance their learning and improve teaching practice (Lewis, Perry, & Murata, 2006; Watanabe, 2002). The method, originally developed in Japan, has clear parallels with other practices, including action learning, where teachers work together to develop their own practice (Revans, 1982). In Lesson Study, a team of teachers select a teaching session which they jointly plan and observe in order to discuss and evaluate their teaching, the student learning outcomes, and their own lessons learned . External advisers can participate as partners in the planning phase, as observers and friendly critics, offering helpful information and recommendations in the subsequent reflection phase (Lewis & Hurd, 2011).
In January 2015, we established a 3-year research and development (R&D) cooperation agreement with two elementary schools to examine the question, “How can Lesson Study strengthen teachers planning, management and evaluation of teaching, both individually and collectively?” This R&D project is anchored in a social constructivist perspective where learners are active participants, creating knowledge in a social and cultural context. Expansive learning (Engeström, 2001) questions established practices and basic assumptions, and new understandings and actions are developed. It is based partly on Bateson’s theory of increasing levels of learning (Bateson, 2000), with levels ranging from unreflective actions, to learning processes that lead to pervasive change of learning culture.
Vygotsky (1978) asserted that language is a central tool in the learning process. Discussion and dialogue in professional communities have the potential to contribute to development, without necessarily leading to it (Timperley, 2008). The lack of a common professional language among teachers is an international problem. It can be justified by a preference for private rather than shared or transparent practices and a lack of cooperation or requests for explanations (Hargreaves & Fink, 2006). Different norms for communications, structure in conversations, leadership, and support from external professionals can all affect participants’ learning (Timperley et al., 2007). The quality of the conversation is the key for the participants’ learning outcome (Mercer, 2004).
Bateson, G. (2000). Steps to an Ecology of Mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Engestrom, Y., & Sannino, A. (2010). Studies of Expansive Learning: Foundations, Findings and Future Challenges. Educational Research Review, 5(1), 1-24. doi: 10.1016/j.edurev.2009.12.002 Engeström, Y. (2001). Expansive Learning at Work: toward an activity theoretical reconceptualization. Journal of Education and Work, 14(1). Hargreaves, A., & Fink, D. (2006). Sustainable Leadership. San Fransisco, CA: Josey-Bass. Lewis, C., Perry, R., & Murata, A. (2006). How should research contribute to instructional improvement? The case of Lesson Study. Educational Researcher, 35(3), 3-14. Lewis, C. C., & Hurd, J. (2011). Lesson study step by step : how teacher learning communities improve instruction. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann Educational Books. Mercer, N. (2004). Sociocultural discourse analysis: Analysing classroom talk as a social mode of thinking. Journal of Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice, 1(2), 137-168. Postholm, M. B. (2007). Forsk med!: lærere og forskere i læringsarbeid. [Oslo]: Damm. Postholm, M. B. (2015). Methodologies in Cultural–Historical Activity Theory: The example of school-based development. Educational Research, 57(1), 43-58. doi: 10.1080/00131881.2014.983723 Revans, R. W. (1982). The origins and growth of action learning. Bromley: Chartwell-Bratt. Senge, P. M. (1992). The fifth discipline : the art and practice of the learning organization. London: Century Business. Shulman, L. S. (1986). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational Researcher, 15(2), 4- 31. Stigler, J. W., & Hiebert, J. (1999). The teaching gap: best ideas from the world's teachers for improving education in the classroom. New York: Free Press. Timperley, H. (2008). Teacher professional learning and development. The Educational Practices Series - 18.Ed. Jere Brophy. International Academy og Education & International Bureau of Education:Brussels. Timperley, H., Wilson, A., Barrar, H., & Fung, I. (2007). Teacher Professional Learning and Developement: Best Evidence Synthesis Iteration. Wellington, New Zealand: Ministry of Education. Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in Society. The Development of Higher Psychological Processes. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Watanabe, T. (2002). Learning from Japanese Lesson Study. Educational Leadership, 36-39.
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