Regardless of the proliferation of models of professional development (PD) available for teachers, many students in New Zealand continue to profile as underachieving. This heightens awareness of the complexities associated with providing quality teaching and learning across the breadth of school contexts. This study explored the potential of Lesson Study (LS) as a model of PD, to enhance teachers’ professional learning (PL) about the effectiveness of their practice and its impact on student learning. The study took place in two schools in Northland, New Zealand. Specifically, it examined the experiences of teachers in an LS approach, adopted as a PL activity to support enhanced teaching practices for teachers located in a socially disadvantaged region.
Findings from the study suggest that there are elements particular to the efficacious implementation of LS, within such regions, which appear to be influential in strengthening both teacher and student perceptions of their learning. These elements include collaborative teaching practice and student voice, increased confidence and willingness to adopt new teaching approaches into their practice, achieving a deeper level of reflexivity and reflection on their professional learning and on their students’ learning, and dialogic reflection with their peers which enabled them to better understand the needs of their students.
The study provides new insight into teachers’ work with students in socially disadvantaged locations and into the potential utility of LS in such regions as a model of PD that can benefit both teachers and students in their schools.
One of the Research Lessons in one of the case study sites evolved from the lead teacher utilising student voice. His students had indicated that they wanted to design, and organise to have built, an outdoor teaching and learning space. After many months of arduous work, their wishes were realised.
Department of Education, New Zealand
Deakin University, Australia