Jugyō Kenkyū (“Lesson Study”)

“Everything we do in the U.S. is focused on the effectiveness of the individual. ‘Is this teacher effective?’ Not, ‘Are the methods they’re using effective, and could they use other methods?’” — James Hiebert

From American RadioWorks A different approach to teacher learning: Lesson study:

A group of teachers comes together and identifies a teaching problem they want to solve. Maybe their students are struggling with adding fractions.

Next, the teachers do some research on why students struggle with adding fractions. They read the latest education literature and look at lessons other teachers have tried. Typically they have an “outside adviser.” This person is usually an expert or researcher who does not work at the school but who’s invited to advise the group and help them with things like identifying articles and studies to read.

After they’ve done the research, the teachers design a lesson plan together. The lesson plan is like their hypothesis: If we teach this lesson in this way, we think students will understand fractions better.

Then, one of the teachers teaches the lesson to students, and the other teachers in the group observe. Often other teachers in the school will come watch, and sometimes educators from other schools too. It’s called a public research lesson.

During the public research lesson, the observers don’t focus on the teacher; they focus on the students. How are the students reacting to the lesson? What are they understanding or misunderstanding? The purpose is to improve the lesson, not to critique the teacher.


Via “Scrum” by Jeff Sutherland:

  1. Shu: Know all the rules and forms and repeat them, don’t deviate at all
  2. Ha: having mastered the forms, you make innovations
  3. Ri: you’re able to discard the forms entirely and be creative in an unhindered way


Via Toyota Production Systems and Kaizen processes:

  • Muri: waste through unreasonableness
  • Mura: waste through inconsistency
  • Muda: waste through outcomes