JAPAN’S APPROACH TO TEACHERS PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

 

If you want to improve teaching then the place to do it is in the context of a classroom lesson

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We know the importance of teachers’ continuous professional development in order to improve the quality of teaching and to improve student outcomes. CPD is delivered internally through school based programmes and externally. But the quality varies. How do the Japanese approach CPD?  Kounaikenshuu is the word used to describe the continuous process of school-based professional development that Japanese teachers engage in once they begin their teaching careers. Participation in school-based professional development is  considered  an essential part of the teacher’s job in Japan.  Run by teachers, Kounaikenshuu consists of a diverse set of activities that together constitute a  comprehensive process of school improvement.   Jugyou kenkyuu or “lesson study” is one of the most common components of kounaikenshuu.  Teachers engage in lesson study to systematically examine their practice, with the goal of becoming more effective. This examination centres on teachers working collaboratively on a small number of “study lessons” to plan, teach, observe, and critique lessons.  To give focus and direction to this work, the teachers select an overarching goal and related research question that they want to explore. This research question then serves to guide their work on all the study lessons.  The simple premise behind lesson study is simply if you want to improve teaching, the most effective place to do so is in the context of a classroom lesson.

 

In the past teachers in England have too often been considered to be fully equipped once they have gone through initial teacher training. This culture is changing helped by research that clearly shows that good, and bad teachers, significantly influence student outcomes and therefore their life opportunities.   Japan considers participation in professional development a core job requirement, with lesson planning and on-the-job training often taking as much as half of a teachers time.

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