How Can Lesson Study Improve Teacher Professional Vision?

  • Pairing the power of video with the method of lesson study can drive the conversation around the professional vision of a school community.

  • School leaders strive to center their school community around a professional vision. Video artifacts help confirm whether every educator interpreting the vision the same way.

  • The shift to distance learning offers new opportunities for discussion and alignment of values to create a sense of unity among educators.

Video learning expert Laura Baecher is a professor at Hunter College in New York City. Her journey through her career in education has brought the art of video analysis to promote teacher learning to the forefront of her work. 

In Laura’s recently published book Video in Teacher Learning: Through Their Own Eyes, she highlights the power of video to encourage reflective practices to cultivate a growth mindset for teachers. 

Laura was interviewed for the teacher professional development blog PLtogether. You can watch the interview segment above, and we’ve shared some of the highlights below.

Sharing best practices within school communities

Naturally, by observing different classrooms, you will see unique instruction and various teaching styles implemented throughout the campus. As a school leader, you want everyone to embrace certain practices to align the school community, but what is the best way to do that? 

Laura believes that by adopting a professional vision,  a school leader can set a precedent for best practices within the school community. One example of a professional vision that she mentioned is a shared understanding of instruction. 

“Let’s say there’s a new literacy program that’s being introduced into the building, and I really want to have certain practices enacted across the curriculum,” said Laura.  

Another example of a professional vision that Laura offers is a set of shared values across learning environments within a school community, such as inclusivity in online learning. 

“If we want to make sure that we have inclusivity, what does inclusivity look like in the online classroom? What happens when a lot of students don’t turn their cameras on? Does that mean they’re self excluding?” Laura added.

Videos help teachers incorporate their school’s professional vision into their classroom

How the professional vision is introduced to the school community is key to successfully transferring it into classrooms. Undoubtedly, discussion remains an essential element to promote understanding, but how can we further ensure that the vision resonates with teachers? 

“If I just talk about inclusive practices in a classroom, I can read about it, I can give my teachers articles about it, but what does it really look like? I want to see it,” said Laura. 

“Video is a very powerful tool for supporting and creating that shared idea about practice,” Laura stated. 

By sharing recorded lessons that highlight key practices demonstrating the vision, Laura believes it allows teachers to see the ideas through the same terminology and the same understandings as their colleagues. Teachers need to see what that shared vision looks like to successfully incorporate it into their classroom. 

The use of a lesson study to support professional visions

The lesson study is a common practice used among teams of teachers to evaluate a lesson. To do this, teachers co-plan a lesson, teach the lesson to their separate classes, and reconvene to discuss how the lesson went. 

Together, teachers may decide if they want to keep the lessons for next year, improve it, or cut the lesson completely based on how beneficial it was to students. Laura believes that a lesson study is a very powerful tool in lesson planning and reflection. She also suggests that the use of video could be a useful element to incorporate into lesson studies. 

“So with video, we could both record it, and then we could come together and look at some of the aspects of the lesson, and we’re generally amazed at how different they are,” Laura said. 

When a group of teachers reviews each others recorded lessons. they are able to collaborate about the differences in their teaching styles. By engaging in this type of co-planning and collaboration, the educators can come to a better understanding of each other’s personal visions and values. 

In terms of a shared vision within a school, the same lesson study methods can be applied. Allowing teachers the opportunity to evaluate and discuss their lessons in a group dynamic can cultivate similar values and practices among classrooms. 

“Create a situation where they can come together and begin to see more similarly to each other,” said Laura.  

Driving teacher to teacher collaboration in a virtual environment

The age of virtual learning allows video to remain a vital tool in facilitating teacher to teacher collaboration. Through distance teaching, teachers have the power to record and share lessons effortlessly. 

With a variety of video tools, teachers can choose to share all of the lesson or small parts of their lesson with peers. This type of exchange can be used to support the lesson study model in a virtual environment and drive collaboration during distance teaching.

“[Lesson studies are a] very tangible teacher to teacher, teacher-driven type of activity where you could easily bring that into distance learning, and obviously the video adds a lot of richness to it,” said Laura. 

Collaboration and reflection are also imperative to maintaining the professional vision within the school community. By encouraging teacher-led discussion, discovery, and analysis around a shared vision, it can help school leaders determine how well the vision is being applied across learning environments. 

As school leaders, instructional coaches, and teachers navigate the online learning environment, professional visions provide an opportunity to create a sense of unity among educators. With the implementation of lesson studies and the use of video, a successful structure to create a shared vision across your school community is possible.   

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