Applied universally in Japanese elementary schools, the lesson study model involves groups of teachers who are collaboratively planning, observing and analyzing students’ work, and next introducing changes to their teaching methods. Since 2013, some elements of the Japanese lesson study model have been introduced to selected Polish schools which participate in the “LES” Program.
Dr Nagakura, who conducts research on effective learning and teaching in New York, started her visit to Poland with observing a math lesson at Stefan Starzyński Elementary School No 143 in Warsaw. On the following days, Dr Nagakura conducted training workshops for a group of 32 teachers who came from all over Poland. The workshops were held in Wilga, under the “Educational Practice Labs” project. She also attended a seminar for school principals held in Warsaw.
The expert from Columbia University emphasized that good lesson planning is of crucial importance (it is interesting that a cycle of work over one lesson in Japan can last up to a year). Dr Nagakura also gave the audience lots of practical tips. Among other things, she presented examples of how math problems are taught in Japan, the USA and Poland and the seminar participants then analyzed which approach best supports the process of learning. They could also watch a film presenting the lesson conducted according to the Japanese model, where there were more observers than students in the classroom.
Wakasa Nagakura noted that teachers can receive significant assistance from the observers in improving their work and increasing their teaching effectiveness. And this in turn results in better students’ learning. “It is worth trying, even by taking small steps. You can start with applying selected elements of the Japanese lesson study model,” Dr Nagakura urged. Report from the workshops in Wilga by Danuta Sterna, the “LES” Program expert, is available at: www.ceo.org.pl/pl/sus/news/warsztaty-teachers-college-columbia-university
The “Learning Schools” Program is addressed to principals and teachers of all school types. It supports changes which improve the effectiveness of teaching and learning. The Program introduces formative assessment and encourages teachers to work in teams. Since 2000, the “LES” Program has been managed jointly by the Center for Citizenship Education Foundation and the Polish-American Freedom Foundation. Since 2012, the “Educational Practice Labs” project has been implemented in cooperation with the lecturers from the Teachers College at Columbia University. The objective of this project is to prepare selected schools participating in the “LES” Program to share their experiences and present good educational practices to teachers from other educational institutions.