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International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies

Emerald Article: How Japanese schools build a professional learning community by lesson study Toshiya Chichibu, Toshiyuki Kihara

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To cite this document: Toshiya Chichibu, Toshiyuki Kihara, (2013),"How Japanese schools build a professional learning community by lesson study", International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies, Vol. 2 Iss: 1 pp. 12 - 25 Permanent link to this document: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/20468251311290105 Downloaded on: 16-01-2013 References: This document contains references to 18 other documents To copy this document: permissions@emeraldinsight.com

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IJLLS 2,1

How Japanese schools build a professional learning community by lesson study


Toshiya Chichibu
Educational Resources Research Center, National Institute for Educational Policy Research of Japan, Tokyo, Japan, and

12

Toshiyuki Kihara
Practical School Education, Osaka Kyoiku University, Tennoji City, Japan
Abstract
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to clarify the lesson study (LS) processes and evaluate their effectiveness in Japanese elementary and secondary (middle and high) schools, through a school survey by the National Institute for Educational Policy Research of Japan (NIER). Design/methodology/approach The authors randomly selected 1,000 elementary schools and 1,000 middle schools and 500 high schools in Japan. Survey items are methods of LS, and indicators of building professional learning communities (PLC) through LSs, close communication between teachers, high quality instruction by teachers, and test scores of students of the school. Findings Based on the school survey in elementary and middle schools, almost all schools set up a school-wide committee, a research theme, and a schedule for LS, and LSs were implemented as part of a school-wide lesson study from which an action research report is produced. On the other hand, in high schools, almost all the schools implemented LSs, but each LS is independent and implemented specifically for the professional development of the individual teacher who undertakes the research lesson. The authors consider LS as a way to facilitate a PLC in the school. There are correlations between the methods of LS and the indicators of a PLC in elementary and middle schools. However, the effectiveness of LS differs between elementary and middle schools. With respect to the research theme and the organization and discussion of lesson plans, LS methods in middle schools are developed into LS methods in elementary schools. The LS methods may be developed gradually both in elementary and middle schools. Originality/value Statistical data of LS in Japanese elementary and secondary schools are presented for the first time, demonstrating the effectiveness of LS. Keywords Japan, Primary schools, Secondary schools, Lesson study, Professional learning community, Action research, In-service training Paper type Research paper

Introduction This paper aims to clarify the lesson study (LS) processes and evaluate their effectiveness in Japanese elementary and secondary (middle and high) schools through a school survey by the National Institute for Educational Policy Research of Japan (NIER). Processes of LS Stigler and Hiebert (1999) show the effectiveness of Japanese mathematics lessons in The Teaching Gap. They analyze the processes of LS from various viewpoints, such as defining the problem, planning the lesson, teaching the lesson, evaluating the lesson and reflecting on its effect, revising the lesson, teaching the revised lesson, evaluating and reflecting again, and sharing the results.

International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies Vol. 2 No. 1, 2013 pp. 12-25 r Emerald Group Publishing Limited 2046-8253 DOI 10.1108/20468251311290105

Researchers in the US analyze LS by focusing on the process of the research lesson, such as making a lesson plan, opening classroom instruction as a research lesson, and discussions after the research lesson (Lewis, 2002; Lewis et al., 2004; Fernandez and Chokshi, 2002). However, these researchers, who describe one cycle of LS, tend to underemphasize the fact that Japanese LSs are part of a year-long school-wide LS that leads to an action research report. In Japan, the teachers in one school set a research theme for LS at the start of the fiscal year, and they set a schedule of implementation for the LS in the school. Besides the LSs in schools, Japanese teachers join LSs outside the school, implemented by various subject area research associations. They are voluntary and nongovernment organizations largely supported by the City or Prefecture Boards of Education. Such associations are organized for each subject area, and teachers of the same subject area from various schools gather at one of their schools after school hours to discuss their curriculum and instruction. Yoshida (2003) explains two types of LSs as practiced in Japanese schools: one in school-based professional development and the other across schools. In Japan, voluntary teacher groups or subject research associations are organized at the school district level. The ordinary LS is conducted in a school. According to Yoshida, the process of LS in schools includes planning a LS schedule; choosing a research theme; preparing, writing, teaching, and discussing a research lesson; writing a LS report; and hosting an open house. Murata and Takahashi (2002) focus on district-level mathematics LSs. In their description, the school district gathers teachers from different schools, and the discussion can focus more on particular aspects of teaching mathematics or content issues than that of in-school LS. The district-level LSs play an important role in improving curricula, textbooks, and teaching and learning materials in Japan. In sum, these researchers describe the aspects of LS in Japan but are based on limited cases or data in a limited area. So, we have to clarify the LS processes with statistical data. Effectiveness of LS Japanese researchers have shown the effectiveness of LS through an investigation conducted among Japanese teachers. In 1980, Tadahiko Inagaki et al. (1988) surveyed teachers who graduated from a normal school in Nagano prefecture; most of the teachers identified factors necessary to become a competent teacher, such as research activities in school, meeting exceptional senior teachers or leaders, on-the-job experience, being posted to a significant school, or meeting exceptional people outside the school. Between 1984 and 1994, Junji Yamazaki (2002) conducted a survey on graduates of Shizuoka University, and most of the teachers identified crucial factors to become a competent teacher, such as on-the-job experience and meeting exceptional senior teachers or leaders. Most teachers also mentioned training at their school, the atmosphere and relationships between colleagues at their workplace, and their own motivation and effort as the most significant factors in raising the quality of their practice in education. Akita Prefecture Educational Center (2008) surveyed 300 teachers in elementary, lower secondary, and upper secondary schools in Akita Prefecture in 2007. The teachers were asked, What do you think is important for enriching your LS experience? Their answers included Discussion among teachers of the grade or the

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subject as observing lessons of each (84.7 percent), Training with invited pedagogical supervisors or lectures (65.1 percent), and Advice from the school principal or deputy head master (53.5 percent). The teachers were also asked to assess the relative importance of Evaluation which is effective to improve lesson evaluations or their own teaching skills. Their responses were Evaluation from peer teachers (81.7 percent), Evaluation from students (66.8 percent), Evaluation from pedagogical supervisors (57.1 percent), and Evaluation from administrators (53.2 percent). The Akita Prefecture survey results show that teachers attach importance to the collaboration between teachers and the reaction from children. Yokohama City Educational Center (2006) surveyed 1,600 teachers of elementary, lower secondary, and upper secondary schools in the city. When the teachers were asked about what were the most effective off-campus activities for improving teaching kills?, their answers were: to join lesson studies open to other school teachers (55.2 percent), to join subject research associations (50.3 percent), to join training courses in a Teacher Training Center (50.0 percent), to join private training seminars (24.9 percent), to join a small research group (23.0 percent), and to join seminars in universities (14.2 percent). The results of the Yokohama City survey thus indicate that teachers attach importance to LSs organized outside the school in addition to LSs undertaken inside the school. In sum, these researches reach the conclusion that Japanese LSs may have supportive and shared leadership or conditions in schools and that there may be collective creativity, shared values and vision, or shared personal practice between schools that implement LSs. But their findings are limited in terms of the sample size, often drawing its data from one prefecture, one city or the alumni of one university or one normal school. Statistical data on LS in Japanese schools Hiebert and Stigler (2000) cited the interview by Catherine Lewis and Ineko Tsuchida, You wont find a school without research lessons. The US National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the twenty-first century (US Department of Education, 2000, p. 20) also reported that 99 percent of all Japanese elementary teachers and 50 percent of all middle school teachers participate in LS groups that meet for two to five hours per week. While these papers refer to the nationwide situation of LS in Japan, they do not provide statistical data. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in Japan started a nationwide achievement survey of elementary and middle schools in 2007. Until 2009, the survey targeted all elementary and middle schools; after 2010, samples of elementary and middle schools were targeted. The survey includes the question, How many times per year do you conduct LS in the school?. The results of the 2010 survey show that 99.5 percent of elementary schools and 98.3 percent of middle schools implemented LS once or more; 82.9 and 54.1 percent, respectively, five times or more; and 20.7 and 9.2 percent, respectively, 15 times or more. From the survey, we can see that almost all elementary and middle schools implement LS, but very few schools do so 15 times or more. While the survey showed no correlation between the frequency of LS and the mean achievement score of the school, many researches advocate the effectiveness of LS. This leads us to believe that a closer analysis is necessary in order to identify factors, other than the frequency of the LS implementation in schools that might correlate to schools test scores.

As we have reviewed previous researches, there is no quantitative research that describes processes and show effectiveness of LS in Japanese schools. The NIER conducted an in-depth survey of LS in 2010. The survey was led by the authors of this article. The survey investigated every aspect of LS, targeting elementary, middle, and high schools (NIER, 2010). Drawing on the findings of this survey, this paper aims, first, to clarify the processes of LS and, second, to investigate the correlations between the processes and the effectiveness of LS. Methods Theoretical framework We consider LS as a way to facilitate a professional learning community (PLC) in schools. The idea of a PLC was proposed in different contexts by Shulman and Hord. Shulman (1986) discusses teacher knowledge using the idea of pedagogical content knowledge. He distinguishes teacher knowledge as pedagogical knowledge and content knowledge. He then defines content knowledge as subject matter content knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge, and curricular knowledge. Pedagogical content knowledge is the key to his framework, mediating subject matter content knowledge and curricular knowledge. Shulman (1987) discusses the process of pedagogical reasoning and action, which encourages teachers to acquire pedagogical content knowledge. Shulman and Shulman (2004) explain how teachers obtain pedagogical content knowledge through participation in a PLC. Hord (1997) criticizes the literature on successful school change, and proclaimed the importance of the principal, and many schools were poorly prepared for change, therefore school improvement may be ineffective in superficial way. He concluded by stating the importance of PLC as a school culture that supports educational change and improvement. Hord defined the attributes of PLC as supportive and shared leadership, collective creativity, shared values and vision, supportive conditions, and shared personal practice. In Japan, when teachers in one school participate in LSs, they construct a PLC in the school. When teachers participate in LSs, they tend to organize a committee in charge of LSs. The members of a committee of LSs are delegates of each grade team or subject team in the school. Each committee member discusses the research theme or the LS schedule and asks other teachers to contribute to the LS schedule determined by the committee. When teachers join LSs, they focus on issues such as communication between teachers, the collective creativity of teachers, and how to improve the quality of their instruction. When teachers construct a PLC in the school, the test scores of their students must be excellent compared to those in other schools with similar conditions. We assumed the relation between LS and PLC in the school, as Figure 1.

How Japanese schools build a PLC 15

PLC in school Methods of LS Communication between teachers Collective creativity of teachers Quality of their instruction Student test score

Figure 1. The relation between processes of LS and PLC in the school

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Survey items Survey items are divided into two categories: first, methods of LS (organization, research theme, schedule, frequency of the research lesson, discussion of the lesson plan, observation of the research lesson, discussion following the research lesson, external advisors, organization of a conference to share findings from LSs, reporting); and second, effectiveness of LS which show building a PLC in the school (close communication between teachers, high-quality instruction by teachers, test scores of the students of the school). Organization. To advance LS, a typical Japanese school organizes a LS committee which consists of teachers of a given subject area or a grade level. Ideally, the school sets up a committee devoted to LS, but some schools form another committee, such as a curriculum committee in charge of organizing LSs. Research theme. After the organization of a LS committee, the school sets a unified research theme. Usually, the school purposely keeps the research theme generic and ambiguous so that any teachers can relate to it. In other case, teachers of the same grade share a unified research theme, or each teacher comes up with his/her own research theme. Schedule and frequency of the research lesson. In a typical LS, a teacher volunteer is in charge of a research lesson, which the teachers in the entire school, or teachers of the same grade level or subject area, observe. After the research lesson, the instructor and observers hold a discussion. The considerable time and human resource required for the LS process makes it difficult to conduct LSs frequently. A LS schedule, detailing setting out when research lessons will be held, is created at the end of the previous fiscal year or at the start of a new fiscal year. In some schools, all teachers have a duty to implement research lessons for LS, while other schools have a guideline that requires the representatives of teachers of the same grade level or subject area to undertake research lessons. Discussion of the lesson plan. In a LS, one teacher volunteers to take charge of the research lesson, including writing a lesson plan about one month prior to the scheduled research lesson. Then he/she puts forward his/her lesson plan in a meeting in which teachers of the same grade level or subject area are present. The teacher then rewrites the lesson plan based on the discussions with other teachers. Observation of the research lesson. The teachers in the entire school, or teachers of the same grade level or subject area, observe the research lesson. When all the teachers observe the research lesson, the students go home early. Some teachers designate their class as self-study time to release themselves from regular classroom duties; otherwise, only those teachers who are not in charge of any lesson at that time observe the research lesson. Discussion following the research lesson. In the discussion following the research lesson, the teachers either debate in groups or all together. External advisors. External advisors are asked to join the discussion following the research lesson. They are sometimes supervisors of the school board or university professors. Reporting and organizing a conference to share findings from LSs. After completing cycles of LSs over one or two years, the school produces a report or organizes a conference where teachers from other schools can join, observe the research lessons of the school, and learn about the findings from LSs. For the school survey, we randomly selected 1,000 elementary schools, 1,000 middle schools, 336 public high schools, and 164 private high schools from 21,974 elementary

schools, 10,044 middle schools and 3,813 high schools. In Japan, most elementary and middle schools are administered by cities or prefectures. Two-thirds of high schools are administrated by prefectures and one-third by private organizations. We received 705 usable surveys from elementary schools (70.5 percent response rate), 665 usable surveys from middle schools (66.5 percent response rate), 254 usable surveys from public high schools (75.6 percent response rate), and 77 usable surveys from private high schools (47.0 percent response rate). Findings Diversity among schools The school survey highlights the differences of LS methods as practiced in elementary and middle and high school. In almost all the items set to determine the LS methods of schools, such as having a school-wide committee, a school-wide theme, a rule that all teachers have a duty to implement research lessons, meetings with same-subject teachers, or meetings with all school teachers, the mean enforcement rate of elementary schools was the best; that of middle schools was good, and that of high schools was the worst. Regarding the organization of LS, in 90.5 percent of elementary schools, 79.1 percent of middle schools, 26.8 percent of public high schools, and 16.9 percent of private high schools, there is a school-wide committee for LS. Only 5.5 percent of elementary schools and 15.2 percent of middle schools have a curriculum committee that occasionally conducts LS. Therefore, only 4 percent of elementary schools and 5.7 percent of middle schools do not have a committee for LS. In 55.6 percent of elementary schools, 45.1 percent of middle schools, 8.3 percent of public high schools, and 6.5 percent of private high schools, there are sub-committees for LS according to the research theme. With respect to the research theme of LS, in 98.7 percent of elementary schools, 90.7 percent of middle schools, 35.0 percent of public high schools, and 20.8 percent of private high schools, there is a unified school-wide research theme for LS. In 9.5 percent of elementary schools, 23.9 percent of middle schools, 26.8 percent of public high schools, and 22.1 percent of private high schools, teachers of the same grade level share a unified research theme. None of the elementary schools, only 3 percent of middle schools, 26.4 percent of public high schools, and 41.6 percent of private high schools do not have any research theme for LS. With respect to the schedule and frequency of LSs, in 99.8 percent of elementary schools, 96.0 percent of middle schools, 69.3 percent of public high schools, and 36.4 percent of private high schools, a LS schedule is set either at the end of the last fiscal year or at the start of a new fiscal year. In 72.1 percent of elementary schools, 44.9 percent of middle schools, 24.2 percent of public high schools, and 25.0 percent of private high schools, all teachers have a duty to implement research lessons for LS. In 98.7 percent of elementary schools, 97.9 percent of middle schools, 97.6 percent of public high schools, and 87.5 percent of private high schools, LS is implemented once or more times per year. With respect to the discussion of lesson plans, in 70.4 percent of elementary schools, 65.6 percent of middle schools, 26.6 percent of public high schools, and 23.2 percent of private high schools, meetings among teachers of the same grade level or subject area are conducted to discuss the lesson plan for a research lesson. In 51.6 percent of elementary schools, 19.1 percent of middle schools, 5.3 percent of public high schools, and 10.7 percent of private high schools, school-wide meetings are conducted after

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a small group meeting. In high schools, teachers rarely meet to discuss the lesson plan. In 49.8 percent of public high schools and 57.1 percent of private high schools, the teacher who implements the research lesson presents the lesson plan to the observers without first discussing it with other teachers. In 51.7 percent of elementary schools, 50.6 percent of middle schools, 43.5 percent of public high schools, and 14.3 percent of private high schools, the teachers ask their principal for advice when discussing a lesson plan. In 34.6 percent of elementary schools, 32.8 percent of middle schools, 29.5 percent of public high schools, and 1.8 percent of private high schools, the teachers ask supervisors of the Board of Education for advice. The supervisors of the Board of Education are in charge only of public schools so few of them give advice to private high schools. When a research lesson is held, in 21.3 percent of elementary schools, 33.8 percent of middle schools, 5.3 percent of public high schools, and 10.7 percent of private high schools, all teachers observe the research lesson so the students are sent home early. In 82.4 percent of elementary schools, 68.2 percent of middle schools, 37.7 percent of public high schools, and 32.1 percent of private high schools, those teachers who are not in charge of any lesson at that time or who designate their class as a self-study period observe the research lesson. In high schools, not all the teachers observe the research lesson. In 56.5 percent of public high schools and 53.6 percent of private high schools, teachers of the same grade level or subject area observe the research lesson. After the research lesson, in 67.3 percent of elementary schools, 44.2 percent of middle schools, 21.7 percent of public high schools, and 23.2 percent of private high schools, a school-wide meeting is conducted to follow the research lesson. In 7.1 percent of elementary schools, 21.1 percent of middle schools, 41.5 percent of public high schools, and 48.2 percent of private high schools, only group meetings are held. In 23.6 percent of elementary schools and 28.1 percent of middle schools, both types of meetings are conducted. When a research lesson and a post-lesson discussion are held, external advisors are invited to the research lesson and the discussion in 78.6 percent of elementary schools, 65.8 percent of middle schools, 30.9 percent of public high schools, and 14.3 percent of private high schools. Among elementary schools, 35.0 percent invite specific advisors, and 42.7 percent invite various advisors depending on the subject or theme of the lesson. Among middle schools, 21.2 percent invite specific advisors, and 42.6 percent invite various advisors based on the subject or theme of the lesson. In 77.5 percent of elementary schools, 79.7 percent of middle schools, and 72.6 percent of public high schools, the invited external advisors come from the Board of Education. In 77.8 percent of private high schools, the external advisors are affiliated with universities. When a school has finished LSs in the scheduled year, a conference has been organized for the past five years in 72.4 percent of elementary schools, 71.3 percent of middle schools, 61.0 percent of public high schools, and 26.0 percent of private high schools. In 15.7 percent of elementary schools, 21.8 percent of middle schools, 28.3 percent of public high schools, and 9.1 percent of private high schools, a conference is held every year. In 95.4 percent of elementary schools, 86.0 percent of middle schools, 65.0 percent of public high schools, and 27.3 percent of private high schools, a report has been produced for the previous five years. In total, 82.8 percent of elementary schools, 57.1 percent of middle schools, 27.6 percent of public high schools, and 14.3 percent of private high schools produce an annual report on their LS activities. To sum up the findings of our survey, the following four characteristics can be identified with regard to the state of LS practices in Japanese schools. First, how LS is

implemented considerably differ in elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools. Second, almost all elementary and middle schools set up a school-wide committee and a research theme and schedule for LS, and they implement LSs as part of a school-wide LS that leads to an action research report. On the other hand, almost all high schools implement LS, but each LS is independent and implemented specifically for the purpose of professional development of the individual teacher who undertake the research lesson. Third, almost all elementary, middle, and high schools implement LS, and there are very few schools that do not. Fourth, in elementary, middle and high schools, except private high schools, supervisors of the school board conduct visits to facilitate LS. In private high schools, university professors are invited to give advice on LS. Building a PLC through LS As indicators of building a PLC through LSs, we developed survey items on close communication between teachers, high-quality instruction by teachers and the test scores of students of the school. These items were answered by principals in five steps. Then we checked for correlations between the processes of LS and the indicators of PLC. There was no correlation between LS methods and indicators of PLC in high schools. However, we found many correlations between LS methods and indicators of PLC in elementary and middle schools. With regard to close communication between teachers in elementary schools, items such as teachers have their own research theme in addition to a school-wide theme for LS, the principal coaches teachers when they prepare lesson plans for LS were associated with close communication between teachers. In middle schools, items such as having a school-wide committee for LS, all teachers have a duty to implement research lessons for LS, having meetings with same-subject teachers to discuss lesson plans for LS, and having meetings with all school teachers to discuss lesson plans for LS were associated with close communication between teachers (see Table I). With regard to high-quality instruction, in elementary and middle schools, items such as inviting university professors as advisors to facilitate LS or to comment on research lessons for LS and organizing conferences in which teachers share findings from LS were associated with high-quality instruction. In elementary schools, items such as having sub-committees besides a school-wide committee for LS, the principal coaches teachers when they prepare lesson plans for LS and the school produces reports on LS every year were associated with high-quality instruction. In middle schools, items such as having a school-wide theme for LS and having meetings with same-subject teachers to discuss lesson plans for LS were associated with high-quality instruction (see Table II). With regard to the mean test score of students in elementary schools, items such as teachers have their own research theme in addition to a school-wide theme for LS, the school sets the schedule for LS in the previous school year, all teachers have a duty to implement research lessons for LS, the principal coaches teachers when they prepare lesson plans for LS and supervisors coach teachers when they prepare lesson plans for LS were associated with the mean test score of students. In middle schools, there is no correlation between the mean test score of students and LS methods (see Table III). Both in elementary and middle schools, close communication between teachers and high-quality instruction and the mean test score of students were

How Japanese schools build a PLC 19

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w2

Degree of freedom

Efficient case

p-value

20

Table I. Associations between LS methods and close communication between teachers

Having a school-wide committee for LS Elementary Middle 18.74 9 664 Teachers have their own research theme in addition to a school-wide theme for LS Elementary 12.42 4 705 Middle All teachers have a duty to implement research lessons for LS Elementary Middle 8.79 3 621 Having meetings with same-subject teachers to discuss lesson plans for LS Elementary Middle 17.88 3 621 Having meetings with all school teachers to discuss lesson plans for LS Elementary Middle 15.54 3 621 The principal coaches teachers when they prepare lesson plans for LS Elementary 12.16 4 700 Middle

0.03 0.02

0.03 0.00 0.00 0.02

w2

Degree of freedom

Efficient case

p-value

Having sub-committees besides a committee for LS Elementary 11.69 4 699 0.02 Middle Having a school-wide theme for LS Elementary Middle 10.93 4 663 0.03 Having meetings with same-subject teachers to discuss lesson plans for LS Elementary Middle 13.68 4 620 0.01 The principal coaches teachers when they prepare lesson plans for LS Elementary 16.17 4 694 0.00 Middle Inviting university professors as advisors to facilitate LS or to comment on research lessons for LS Elementary 13.26 4 546 0.01 Middle 9.78 4 407 0.04 Open classrooms when supervisors visit the school Elementary 12.19 4 694 0.02 Middle The school produces reports on LS every year Elementary 10.81 4 699 0.03 Middle Table II. Associations between LS Organizing conferences in which teachers share findings from LS Elementary 19.10 8 696 0.01 methods and high-quality Middle 18.69 8 661 0.02 instruction

associated with each other (see Table IV). This suggests that the items that we developed for assessing the establishment of a PLC were adequate and that the extent to which LS is practiced in schools can influence the development of a PLC in schools.

w2

Degree of freedom

Efficient case

p-value

Teachers have their own research theme in addition to a school-wide theme for LS Elementary 15.53 4 704 Middle The school sets the schedule for LS in the previous school year Elementary 19.95 8 703 Middle All teachers have a duty to implement research lessons for LS Elementary 9.74 4 699 Middle The principal coaches teachers when they prepare lesson plans for LS Elementary 17.96 4 699 Middle Supervisors coach teachers when they prepare lesson plans for LS Elementary 9.62 4 699 Middle Inviting advisors to facilitate LS or to comment on research lessons for LS Elementary 22.82 12 698 Middle

0.00 0.01 0.05 0.00 0.05 0.03

How Japanese schools build a PLC 21

Table III. Associations between LS methods and the mean test scores of students in local schools

w2

Degree of freedom

Efficient case

p-value

Communication of teachers and high-quality instruction Elementary 231.17 16 Middle 138.38 12 Communication of teachers and mean test scores of students Elementary 68.83 16 Middle 19.04 12 High-quality instruction and mean test scores of students in local Elementary 217.84 16 Middle 245.80 16

699 663 704 704 698 659

0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 Table IV. Associations between indicators of PLC in the school

Discussion Difference in effective LS method between elementary and middle schools The LS methods that correlate to close communication between teachers, high-quality instruction, and the mean test scores of students differ between elementary and secondary schools. With respect to the research theme of LS, in middle schools, having a school-wide theme for LS is correlated with high-quality instruction; and in elementary schools, teachers have their own research theme in addition to a school-wide theme for LS is correlated with close communication between teachers and the mean test scores of students. Regarding the organization of LS, in middle schools, having a school-wide committee for LS is correlated with close communication between teachers; in elementary schools, having sub-committees besides a committee for LS is correlated with high-quality instruction. With regard to the discussion of lesson plans, in middle schools, having meetings with same-subject teachers to discuss lesson plans for LS is correlated

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with high-quality instruction, while having meetings with same-subject teachers to discuss lesson plans for LS and having meetings with all school teachers to discuss lesson plans for LS are correlated with close communication between teachers. In elementary schools, the principal coaches teachers when they prepare lesson plans for LS is correlated to close communication and the mean test scores of students. Thus, with respect to the research theme and organization and the discussion of lesson plans, LS methods in middle schools are developed into LS methods in elementary schools. Regarding the research theme for LS, most elementary schools (99 percent) have a school-wide theme for LS, and if the teachers have their own research theme in addition to the school-wide theme, the school may activate communication between teachers or may increase the student achievement. Fewer middle schools have a school-wide theme compared to elementary schools; if a middle school has a school-wide theme for LS, the teachers may be able to advance highquality instruction. Regarding the organization of LS, most elementary schools (90 percent) have a school-wide committee for LS; if a school forms sub-committees besides a school-wide committee for LS, the teachers may be able to advance high-quality instruction. Fewer middle schools have a school-wide committee for LS compared to elementary schools; if a middle school forms a school-wide committee for LS, it may be able to activate communication between teachers. With respect to the discussion of lesson plans, many elementary schools (over 50 percent) hold meetings with all teachers to discuss lesson plans for LS, and if the principal of the school coaches the teachers as they prepare lesson plans for LS, the school may be able to activate communication between teachers. Fewer middle schools conduct meetings with all teachers to discuss lesson plans for LS compared to elementary schools; if a school does hold such meetings, it may be able to activate communication between teachers. That is to say, elementary school teachers tend to practice a much more elaborate and rigorous form of LSs than in middle schools (Figure 2).
Elementary school Teachers have their own Research theme research theme in addition to a school-wide theme for LS Having a school-wide committee for LS Middle school Having a school-wide theme for LS

Organization

Having sub-committees besides a committee for LS

The principal coaches Discussion of lesson plans teachers when they prepare lesson plans for LS

Having meetings with same-subject teachers to discuss lesson plans for LS having meetings with all school teachers to discuss lesson plans for LS

Figure 2. Difference in effective LS method between elementary and middle schools

Strategy for expanding the effective methods of LS depend on type of school In Japan, almost all elementary, middle, and high schools implement LS. However, the effectiveness of LS differs between elementary, middle, and high schools. In high schools. We Chichibu and Kihara have been visiting elementary, middle, and high schools for a decade. Most of the schools that invite us are elementary schools, followed by middle schools and very few high schools. When we observe research lessons in high schools, we tend to see a tedious lesson that relies heavily on the traditional lecture format and a prescribed textbook, thus failing to encourage students higher order thinking. In high schools, the meeting after the research lesson tends to be tedious and less engaging, with little interactions among the participant. On the contrary, in elementary schools, the teachers deliberate on teaching methods and ask the students to think deeply. We tend to observe an intermediate situation in middle schools. The results of the school survey supported our observation. The LSs in high schools are less active than in elementary and middle schools. But LSs in high schools may be effective as a professional development for the individual teacher who undertakes the research lesson. In elementary and middle schools. In the previous section, we discussed that a more elaborate and rigorous form of LSs are practiced in elementary than in middle school. Although almost all schools implement LS, not all teachers are willing to participate in LS processes. LS is a voluntary in-service training that requires teachers to work hard; thus, many teachers tend to avoid involvement in LS. As a result, it is hard for a school to implement LS consistently when a positive LS culture has not been established. That is, even in elementary school, if a school which had not established a schoolwide committee for LS, make a school-wide committee for LS, the school may activate communication between teachers (having a school-wide committee for LS is associated to close communication between teachers in middle schools). After that, teachers in the school change their mind to eager to implement LS more, the school may have sub-committees besides a school-wide committee for LS. If a school which had not set a school-wide theme for LS makes a school-wide theme for LS, at first, teachers in the school may accept the theme reluctantly, but they will change their mind to accept the school-wide theme for LS gradually (having a school-wide theme for LS is associated to high-quality instruction in middle schools). Once teachers get used to implementing LS, they come up with their own theme in addition to a school-wide theme for LS (teachers have their own research theme in addition to a school-wide theme for LS is associated to close communication between teachers and the mean test score of students in elementary schools). They cooperate with each other through the school-wide research theme and simultaneously pursue their own instruction method. When this happens, the teachers become willing to participate voluntarily in afterschool meetings in which lesson plans are discussed or in trial lessons in which teachers act as students. The teachers will not hesitate to ask the principal or supervisor of the Board of Education to coach them on their lesson plan (the principal coaches teachers when they prepare lesson plans for LS is associated to close communication between teachers, highquality instruction, the mean test score of students in elementary schools, and supervisors coach teachers when they prepare lesson plans for LS is associated with the mean test score of students in elementary schools). Therefore, they become willing to open their classrooms to visits and produce a report (the school produces reports on LS every year were associated with high-quality instruction in elementary schools). Our hypothesis of strategy for expanding the effective methods of LS is supported by the school survey. In elementary or middle schools, teachers have their own research theme in addition to a school-wide theme for LS, having meetings to discuss lesson plans

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for LS, principal coaches teachers when they prepare lesson plans for LS, supervisors coach teachers when they prepare lesson plans for LS correlate to indicators of PLC. Through the process in which LS methods are developed, communication between teachers may become active, the quality of instruction for each lesson may increase, and the achievement level of students may improve. Our peer researchers who visit schools frequently to advise their LS say it takes two or three years to change the school culture into one in which teachers can implement high-quality LS. The reason for this is that teachers in Japan tend to liaise with each other and disregard the leadership of the principal. Principals in Japan are careful to speak their policy to teachers of the school, but willing to infiltrate their policy to teachers gradually. Conclusion Summary remarks Drawing on our extensive survey results, we have identified the following features of LS as practiced in the Japanese education system. First, almost all elementary, middle, and high schools in Japan implement LS once or more times per year. Second, over 80 percent of elementary and middle schools set a school-wide committee and a research theme for LS, and they implement LSs as part of a school-wide LS from which an action research report is produced. On the other hand, few high schools do so. Third, strong correlations between LS methods and building a PLC in elementary and middle schools have been identified. Fourth, with respect to the research theme and organization and the discussion of lesson plans, LS methods in middle schools are developed into LS methods in elementary schools. Elementary school teachers tend to practice a much more elaborate and rigorous form of LSs than in middle schools. Fifth, LS methods may be developed gradually both in elementary and middle schools. Implications for practical and further research First, we should further study the processes through which LSs promote the development of a PLC in schools. Case study methods can be used to identify what factors may promote LS methods and what LS method contributes to the establishment of a PLC. Existing literature suggests that such factors as principals leadership, middle leaders facilitation, and teachers consciousness of LSs enhance the effectiveness of LSs in schools. Second, there is a need to develop an administrative mechanism at the local school board level that facilitates LSs in schools. Our survey indicates that school board supervisors conduct school visit to facilitate LS. However, how supervisors from the school board facilitate schools LSs is hardly studied in the existing literature. There is also a need to develop in-service training systems for enhancing the roles of principals or middle leaders responsible for facilitating LSs in schools. Third, we should identify other strategies besides LS that might contribute to the building of a PLC in schools. We are not sure LS is the best strategy to build a PLC in schools. Another strategy using strong school-community relationship and teacher evaluation system should be explored. Furthermore, correlations between LS methods and building a PLC in the school may be different depending on the country. So, international studies are expected which explore strategies suitable to school cultures in different countries. The LS has had a long history in Japanese schools, and each school has developed its own LS method over a long time. We should observe every aspect of LSs in schools, and propose the best strategy to facilitate PLC in schools.

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