Monday, February 28, 2011

Regional Success

FLICC has just completed 10 regional lesson study implementation workshops. These two-day workshops trained more than 400 lesson study facilitators and distributed more than 300 lesson study support kits. State, district, and building level educators worked hard in every region of Florida, putting the State on the cusp of a statewide implementation of lesson study. We thank them all for their diligent efforts!

Although we would happily go out with this bang of an effort, FLICC is not finished supporting lesson study implementation. Next up is co-facilitation with a select number of districts. This co-facilitation is designed to give districts a push and get them over the planning hump and into actual implementation of their lesson study plans.

We are also visiting colleges around the State where preservice and alternative certification programs are housed. This is so that instructors of Florida's future educators can learn about the essentials of lesson study and what is happening in the schools and districts across the State. If future educators learn about lesson study before they come to work, they will be ready to participate in the ongoing professional learning communities that use lesson study.

FLICC is working with the FLDOE to lay plans for next school year, so stay tuned for announcements of upcoming events and professional development centered on lesson study. In the meantime, please post your ideas for how we can best support Florida's continuing efforts to implement lesson study statewide.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Finding Time for Lesson Study

Below is a summary of the strategies real schools and districts used as reported in Valerie Von Frank's [ed.] book Finding Time For Professional Learning, Oxford, OH: National Staff Development Council, 2008, and other sources).

___ Plan teacher release days according to their affiliations (e.g., department, subject, PLC, etc.) with subs covering their classes.

___ Plan for teachers to cover other classes during teacher release days according to their affiliations (i.e., department, subject, PLC, etc.). So, when the English department is going to meet as a PLC, the other teachers step in to cover their classes (perhaps by combining classes on an interdisciplinary expedition).

___ Hire one or more full‐time subs to cover classes when teachers visit each other's classrooms.

___ A substitute bank of professional learning subs who know they'll be subbing once a week, but for different teachers (whoever is meeting for professional learning that week).

___ Enlist school administrators to teach classes in order to release teachers for professional learning. Consider counselors and support staff, under the supervision of certified staff.

___ Repurpose meeting times as PLC times (and really meaning it!): e.g., faculty, department, grade level meetings.

___ Repurpose some or all district professional development days so that they can be used by schools for professional learning activities; consider making the days flexible – in other words, individual schools can decide on the days they want to use the district time (in large districts, schedule according to feeding patterns).

___ Use the first part of the day for school meetings/gatherings which all students but not all teachers attend. Teachers not attending instead meet in professional learning groups. Other teachers organize the meeting, perhaps working with student leaders on special events.

___ Extend school hours on every day but one in order to have an late start or early dismissal for professional learning each week ("banking" time).

___ Rework schedules so that PLCs have a common prep period which they agree to use every other week as PLC time rather than individual prep time.

___ Provide PLC time during electives time. . . but make sure that electives teacher are part of a PLC too, perhaps their own PLC, during the school day.

___ Consider "roll‐through time" (Maine‐Endwell Central School Dist., NY), a period during which specific groups of staff gather for identified learning and by individualized coaching, with substitutes rolling from one to another classroom.

___ Create PLC time during specials (art, music, PE in many elementary schools) but be sure that specials teachers also have PLC time.

___ Consider recess – perhaps in combination with other time, such as specials, for a longer block of PLC time. Trade recess "duty" in order to meet with your own PLC.

___ Review funding sources (Title I? Other?) to see if it will support PLC time.

___ Regroup for specials – instead of 3 classes of 20, do 2 classes of 30 to allow classroom teachers to be able to collaborate (music and gym + recess).

___ Team teach – and arrange for one person each week to be released for professional learning time for at least a day.

___ Create double planning times or extended time for teacher teams to meet during the week.

___ Combine planning periods with non‐instructional periods such as lunch or before/after school (without duty) once a week.

___ Engage the community in leading service projects or special interest classes (organized by a retired teacher) once every two weeks so teachers can meet.

___ Design activities for students that can be supervised by one teaching and other nonteaching staff.

___ Release teachers from nonteaching duties once a week or more so they can meet.

___ Regularly combine classes and release teachers to engage in professional learning (one school does this every Friday, releasing a different group of teachers all day).

___ Start from scratch (as Audrey Cohen suggested) and design the school day so that about 10 percent of teachers' work time is for learning and working with peers to improve instruction; work with the union on this, helping union people see the benefits to teacher members.

___ Have district administrators teach classes while teachers engage in professional learning once a month.

___ Be willing to trade away something in order to get professional learning time.

___ Extend the contract, but do not clump added days at the beginning or end of the student calendar; spread them out by half‐days throughout the year to achieve continuous learning periods.

___ Capture district professional development days for school use, such as meeting in PLCs.

___ Guard whatever time there is so that it is not pre‐empted by other activities; it is used only for professional learning.

___ Make sure that activities such as these "count" as professional learning: follow‐up to professional development (an outside speaker, for example), problem‐solving, coaching, classroom visits/walk‐throughs, sharing student work, lesson study, assignment analysis, etc.). Real professional learning is much more than "sit 'n' git."

___ Consider staggered teaching schedules with teachers in a PLC reporting and leaving at different times during the school day so they can meet regularly with a team.

___ Consider Friday School (or some other day, some other name) once a month, a special day with field trips, art experiences, etc.

___ Occasionally use "cherry biters" (Shelley Quinlivan in Garmston, "No Time for Learning? Just Take It In Tiny Bites and Savor It," JSD, Fall 2005, Vol. 26, No. 4, 65‐66.) to keep the focus on learning: These are 20 minutes of volunteer

time before/after school to focus on a specific topic (ideas about assessment, for example).

___ Let PLCs decide their own meeting time(s) and present their wishes to the entire faculty. There's no reason all PLCs in a school need to meet at the same time.

___ For coaching, classroom walk‐throughs, mentoring, problem‐solving, etc., arrange for time individually. There's no reason all these activities need to take place at the same time, involving several teachers who need substitutes. Coverage for these activities can be provided by one traveling sub or administrator or teachers who donate their planning time.

___ Extend existing student breaks for one day to allow for professional learning time for teachers.

___ Bargain time. Work with the union to make professional learning time a part of contracts. Time may be "banked" (extended time before the regular start and end times that can be saved for professional learning time) or newly established, such as an extra two days spread throughout the year in half‐day professional learning time.

___ Consider full‐day "specials" – art, music, physical education, etc., so that "regular" teachers can devote their energy towards professional learning, but be sure specials teachers have a day to learn, too (Hoffman Elementary School, Chicago).

___ Consider internships in high schools, half‐days when students are in the community reporting to work partners and gaining valuable work experience. When students are interning, their teachers can engage in professional learning.

___ Compartmentalize faculty meetings by deciding that one faculty meeting a month is for "business" and the another for "issues," but the remaining two are for professional learning.

___ Combine before‐ and after‐school preparation time (contract hours), giving it up once a week in to have one block of time to spend on professional learning, perhaps with a late start or early dismissal, which is made up for students through slightly longer regular start and dismissal times.

___ Have teachers ask for and schedule time individually to coach peers and observe each other in the classroom. Meet those they are coaching or observing during preparation time, but count on the administrator to provide coverage during the time an individual is coaching or observing.

___ Rather than have two days before schools open to get ready for students, have one preparation day and another day during the third week to "drop everything and learn" (Monroe Township Public School District, NJ).

___ Customize professional learning time to the task. Have teachers plan what they will do in terms of their own learning and what kind of time they'll need to accomplish results. For example, teachers who do action research may need individual time plus meeting time. Teachers who are examining student work together may need regular group time. Teachers who are doing peer coaching or walk‐throughs may need one or more periods of time per week to engage in their professional learning.

___ Work with district administrators and the school board/committee to recognize the importance of professional learning such that they are willing to add days to the teaching calendar. Help them think "out of the box" about the standard 180 day school year (see Tanner, Canady, and Rettig, Scheduling time to maximize development opportunities, JSD, Fall 1995, Vol. 16, No. 4, 14‐19.

___ Look at how block scheduling can provide professional learning time for teachers (Zepeda, Arrange time into blocks, JSD, Spring 1999, Vol. 20, No. 2, 26‐30; Adams City High School, Colorado). A fourth daily block can be "student free" and provide teachers time to meet professionally (see Working Toward Excellence, A Newsletter of the Alabama Best Practices Center, Spring 2001, Vol. 1, No 3, 2‐4).

___ Add an optional period to the day so that teachers get a planning period + a PLC period. Rotate that period throughout the schedule (see Working Toward Excellence, A Newsletter of the Alabama Best Practices Center, Spring 2001, Vol. 1, No 3, 10).

___ Don't give up scarce hours to "one‐shot" workshops.

Thanks to Lois Brown Easton for this!

Research and Resources

Here are some resources and research articles that you may find helpful:

Cannon, J. & Fernandez, C. (2003). "This research has nothing to do with our teaching!": An analysis of lesson study practitioners' difficulties conducting teacher research. Manuscript submitted for publication. (If you would like to obtain a draft of this paper, please e‐mail

Chokshi, S. & Fernandez, C. (March 2004). Challenges to importing Japanese lesson study: Concerns, misconceptions, and nuances. Phi Delta Kappan, 85(7), 520‐525.

Easton, L. B. (2009). Protocols for professional learning. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Easton, L. B. (Ed.) (2008). Powerful designs for professional learning. Oxford, OH: National Staff Development Council.

Fernandez, C. (2003). Lesson study: A means for U.S. teachers to develop the knowledge of mathematics needed for reform-minded teaching? Manuscript submitted for publication.

Fernandez, C. (2002). Learning from Japanese approaches to professional development: The case of lesson study. Journal of Teacher Education, 53(5), 393‐405.

Fernandez, C., Cannon, J., & Chokshi, S. (2003). A U.S.‐Japan lesson study collaboration reveals critical lenses for examining practice. Teaching and Teacher Education, 19(2), 171‐185.

Fernandez, C. & Chokshi, S. (October 2002). A practical guide to translating lesson study for a U.S. setting. Phi Delta Kappan, 84(2), 128‐134.

Fernandez, C., Chokshi, S., Cannon, J., & Yoshida, M. (in press). Learning about lesson study in the United States. In E. Beauchamp (Ed.), New and old voices on Japanese education. Armonk, New York: M.E. Sharpe.

Gallimore, R. & Santagata, R. (2006). Researching teaching: The problem of studying a system resistant to change. In R R. Bootzin & P. E. McKnight (Eds.). Strengthening Research Methodology: Psychological Measurement and Evaluation (pps. 11‐28) Washington, D.C.: APA Books

Hiebert, J., & Stigler, J. W. (2000). A proposal for improving classroom teaching: Lessons from the TIMSS video study. Elementary School Journal, 101, 3‐20.

Kelly, K. (2002). Lesson study: Can Japanese methods translate to U.S. schools? Harvard Education Letter, 18(3), 4‐7.

Lewis, C. (2008). Lesson study. In Easton, L. B. Powerful designs for professional learning. Oxford, OH: National Staff Development Council.

Lewis, C. (2006). Lesson study in North America: Progress and challenges In M. Matoba, K. A. Crawford & M. R. Sarkar Arani (Eds.) Lesson study: International Perspective on Policy and Practice. Educational Science Publishing House, Beijing.

Lewis, C. (2004). Lesson study. In Easton, L. B. Powerful designs for professional learning. Oxford, OH: National Staff Development Council.

Lewis, C. (2002). Lesson Study: A Handbook of Teacher Led Instructional Change. Philadelphia: Research for Better Schools.

Lewis, C. (2002) What are the essential elements of lesson study? The California Science Project Connection. Volume 2, No. 6. November/December 2002.

Lewis, C. (2002). Does lesson study have a future in the United States? Journal of the Nagoya University Department of Education, January (1), 1‐23.

Lewis, C., Perry, R., & Hurd, J. (2004). A deeper look at lesson study. Educational Leadership, 61(5), 6‐11.

Lewis, C., Perry, R., Hurd, J., & O'Connell, P. (2006). Lesson study comes of age in North America. Phi Delta Kappan. December 2006, pp. 273‐281.

Lewis, C., Perry, R., & Murata A. (2006). How should research contribute to instructional improvement: A case of lesson study. Educational Researcher,
Vol. 35, No. 3, pp. 3‐14.

Lewis, C. & Tsuchida, I. (1998). A lesson is like a swiftly flowing river: Research lessons and the improvement of Japanese education. American Educator,
Winter, 14‐17 & 50‐52.

Lewis, C., & Tsuchida, I. (1998). The basics in Japan: The three Cs. Educational Leadership 55:6, 32‐37.

Liptak, L. (2002). It's a matter of time. RBS Currents, 5(2), 6‐7.

Perry, R., & Lewis, C. (in press) What is successful adaptation of lesson study in the U.S.? Journal of Educational Change.

Watanabe, T. (Winter 2003). Lesson study: A new model of collaboration. Academic Exchange Quarterly, 7(4)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Managing Change

Establishing lesson study in Florida's Districts involves change.  We all know about change.  It's coming.  It's inevitable.  It's necessary to make schools work better.  But managing change is a whole other thing.  J. P. Kotter in Leading Change (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1999) proposes 8 stages of change from which we can glean some tips for managing the doing of it.

Stage 1. Establish a sense of urgency.  Discuss with stakeholders: What will happen if we don't change?  What might happen if we do change?  What are the realities we face with this problem we want to change?  What data show needs?

Stage 2. Create a guiding coalition.  Think about and then recruit those who need to be involved to promote change.  Instill them with the sense of urgency.  Represent all stakeholders.

Stage 3. Develop a vision and strategies.  Translate the change needed into what it will look like when the change is accomplished. Identify the best practices that exist to address this problem.  Consider with your coalition how strategies fit within the context of the problem and the context of your capabilities.  Develop an action plan to implement the vision and the strategies.

Stage 4. Communicate the change vision.  Be sure everyone is on the same page—that they understand the good reasons they are doing this and how it will be done, who is responsible for seeing that it gets done and to whom they can go for help.

Stage 5. Empower broad-based action.  Trust doers to do their jobs, but keep checking and double checking to see that the necessary attitudes, competencies, structures and resources are in place and are moving forward smoothly. 

Stage 6. Generate short-term wins.  Identify immediate outcomes that can be celebrated.  Identify indicators of success for milestones and measure them.

Stage 7. Consolidate gains and produce more change.  Figure out how to keep momentum going.  Figure out if modifications and refinements need to be made to the processes.

Stage 8. Anchor new approaches in the culture.  Figure out what actions need to be taken to sustain the change and then take them.  Think about what legacy you are leaving behind and how you can get it to continue.

Thanks to Mike Tremor of FASA for pointing us to this.