01 SES 09 C, Professional Learning Through Lesson Study
Lesson Study, originally Japanese approach to teachers’ professional learning, keeps on proving a powerful mechanism of enhancing pedagogy and effectiveness of students’ learning around the globe (Lewis & Tsuchida, 1998; Fernandez & Yoshida, 2012; Dudley, 2015; Chichibu, 2016). Numerous studies report on the positive outcomes teachers experience due to their involvement in Lesson Study cycles, including impact on all types of teachers’ knowledge identified by Shulman (1986) (see: Peña Trapero, 2013; Xu & Pedder, 2015; Dudley, 2015; Lamb, 2015; Warwick et al., 2016; Vrikki et al., 2017). However, the research dealing with how teachers learn in Lesson Study is still in its infancy and remains under-theorized (Dudley, 2015, p. 46; Warwick et al., 2016, p. 566); hence “a more intentional and systematic focus on illuminating the black box of teachers’ learning” is required (Goldsmith et al., 2014, p. 21 cited in Widjaja et al., 2017, p.358). Currently, the research attempting to theorize teacher learning in Lesson Study acknowledges and emphasizes the impact of the genuine dialogue (Dudley, 2013, p.222) on teachers learning. To that end, Elliot (2015) proposes a dialogic teaching framework based on Alexander’s (2008) conceptualizations as a theoretical model for lesson and learning study (p.321). However, the majorities of studies underpinned by this framework focus on teachers professional learning as mediated by teacher-teacher interaction, whereas little or no attention is paid to if and how interaction with students and listening to what Ruddock and Flutter (2004) call Student voice, as part of the suggested by Dudley (2014) Lesson Study cycles, affects teachers learning and particularly teachers’ beliefs about teaching. Thus, the purpose of this research is to bring into the focal point and explore the role of Student voice as a trigger event for English as a Foreign Language (further: EFL) teachers’ beliefs about teaching change. Through Mezirow’s (1995, 1997) five initial stages of transformation, and Jarvis’ (2004) concept of disjuncture, the study willargue that the interaction with students and listening to Student voice in Lesson Study results in teachers’ reexamining and challenging their beliefs about EFL teaching due to teachers’ reoccurring experience of disorienting dilemma or disjuncture accompanied by the sense of discomfort when listening to Student voice. The experience of disjuncture when listening to Student voice, in its turn, might trigger change in teachers’ beliefs about teaching EFL and consecutively, their classroom practice. Thus, listening to Student voice in each Lesson Study cycle could be regarded as a valuable learning space stimulating transformation of teachers’ beliefs about their teaching and thus, facilitating changes in their decision-making and classroom practice.
Therefore, the main aim of this research is to conceptualize the stage of eliciting Student voice in Lesson Study as a learning space capable of stimulating teacher’s experience of disorienting dilemma or disjuncture and thus, as a learning space where teachers’ beliefs about teaching could become subject to transformations. The research question guiding the study is: If and How does Student voice in Lesson Study affect EFL teachers’ beliefs about teaching? Overall, the study aims to add to the academic discussion on what cognitive and affective processes underpin teachers’ beliefs about teaching change within the space of Lesson Study. Also, the research reflects on what factors might affect eliciting Student voice in Lesson Study. Thus, the research could become a valuable resource for researchers and educators interested in Lesson Study worldwide, and specifically for educational community in Kazakhstan, the context country of this research, which nowadays strives to transfer the idea of Lesson Study to schools all around the country (NIS conference, 2018).
The research is a case study (Bassey, 1999) initiated by the researcher in April, 2018 (still in its progress, final stage in February, 2019) at one of the schools in Kazakhstan, where the researcher plays a role of a facilitator of Lesson Study approach to EFL teachers’ learning. Thus, the informants of this study are three EFL teachers with 5, 13 and 22 years of experience. The study adopts the qualitative research paradigm (Lodico, Spaulding & Voegtle, 2006) with a series of narrative interviews (Bauer, 1996) as the main method of data collection. The narrative interviews were designed following Bauer’s four phases, such as: initialization, main narration, question phase and small talk phase (p.5). The interview questions were inspired by Jarvis’ concept of disjuncture; Mezirow’s five stages of adult learning, including: disorienting dilemma, self-examination, sense of alienation, relating discontent to others, and explaining options of new behavior; as well as the literature on Student voice, and Dudley’s guidance to interviewing students as part of a Lesson Study cycle. So far, three EFL teachers have carried out two full Lesson Study cycles including 6 research lessons with hours of research lesson planning time and 1, 5 hour post-lesson discussion after each research lesson. In total, teachers carried out 18 interviews with case students. At the same time, after each research lesson, the researcher met each individual teacher and, so far, conducted 18 interviews where teachers were asked to narrate about their experience of Student voice phase of Lesson Study and share if they have learned anything from students; if they consider this interaction valuable for them and why; how they felt and why; and if they think of continuing interviewing students and why. At the stage of data analysis the interviews were transcribed and emerging themes identified by means of first inductive and later deductive coding (Thomas, 2003). Emerged through inductive coding themes were thoroughly documented and teachers’ quotes from their narratives were selected to describe a specific theme (Cohen et al., 2007, p. 368). Later, the inductive themes were compared and contrasted with a theory-based coding protocol worked out for the purpose of this study. Validity and reliability within the research were insured by “the verbatim principle” implying that findings were agreed on with the participants, and audio-recording equipment audacity was applied (Spradley, 1980, p.67). The research was designed in compliance with BERA (2018) ethical guidance for educational research.
The findings show that interaction with students is a still an unexplored terrain to Kazakhstani teachers who are used to more authoritative rather than democratic styles in teaching. However, this new journey that the three EFL teachers agreed to set off along with the researcher resulted in numerous incidents of deep reflections and learning discoveries. Overall, although the research is still in its progress, it could be suggested that the available findings not only support the argument of the study that listening to Student voice in Lesson Study results in teachers’ reexamining and challenging their beliefs about teaching EFL, but also pushes the argument further by illustrating the phases of how teachers transform their existing beliefs about teaching, which ultimately results in transformation of practice. The emerging themes in the process of inductive coding suggest that in the process of beliefs transformation, triggered by the Student voice in Lesson Study cycle, teachers experience the following: Trigger Momentums, Emotional Disjuncture, Reflective Silence, Reflective Dialogue, Beliefs Transformations, and ultimately Practice change. Thus, the findings are consistent with Mezirow’s (1995) conceptualization of the process of adult transformative learning, including the five initial stages: disorienting dilemma, self-examination, sense of alienation, relating discontent to others, and explaining options of new behavior. At the same time, the study points out and explores some necessary conditions to address in the process of activating the power of Student voice for teachers’ beliefs transformation. The methodology of this study, including a coding protocol of teachers’ narratives underpinned by transformative learning framework, and refined in the process of study, could become a source of inspiration for researchers exploring teachers’ beliefs and their transformation.
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