Teaching Squares and Lesson Study are both facilitated peer-group approaches to improving instructors’ lesson preparation and delivery but both take very different approaches. Teaching Squares lends itself well to heterogeneous groups who come from different disciplines while Lesson Study is primarily for instructors coming from the same discipline or wanting to integrate the same theme into their particular discipline (eg. sustainability across the curriculum).
Teaching Squares follow this process:
- Group of 4 instructors meet with facilitator and decide a schedule for class visits. Individual instructors decide what guiding questions they have about their own instruction before the visits.
- Each instructor visits the others’ class during class time to observe the instructor. The purpose is to observe the other instructor (and not participate in the class). The observing instructor is to focus on her own guiding question about her own instruction, comparing herself to the observed instructor. She is not evaluating the teaching instructor.
- Each instructor reflects on the observations, comparing to their own instruction to determine if they can themselves make any changes.
- The group meets to discuss what they learned based on their personal reflections.
Lesson Study follows this process:
- Group of instructors meet with facilitator and plans the study.
- The group determines what guiding questions will determine the focus of the observations. These take the form of research questions that the group would like to investigate and improve upon.
- Design the lesson. The group determines the learning goals and a lesson to achieve this goal. It seems that not all lesson studies operate at this level of uniformity, though, as some are just looking at bigger questions – eg. teaching a particular curricular theme, as opposed to teaching the exact same lesson.
- Observers visit the classes of the instructors during the time the teaching instructor is delivering the lesson under study. Observers document all their observations regarding the lesson, the instructor, and the students, to inform the evaluation of the lesson under study. It seems that all participants deliver the lesson in their classes and are observed.
- The team meets to analyze the results and evaluates whether or not the learners achieved the learning goals.