The quality of teacher education and development programmes is paramount to improving the quality of teaching and learning outcomes. As part of improving the teaching of Natural Sciences, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) honoured an invitation from the Mpumalanga Department of Education to conduct a refresher training workshop on a Lesson Study with 30 of its Natural Sciences subject advisors.
Originating from Japan, the Lesson Study is a teacher development practice through which teachers work together to plan a lesson. The strength of this practice is in the group reflection and subsequent refinement of the lesson before it is presented to learners.
According to Mr Siyalo Qanya, Chief Education Specialist for Natural Sciences at the DBE, the challenge of lessons not being well planned and presented may be solved by the co-creation of knowledge through interrogation of best-practices in the classroom, a central concept in the Lesson Study. “The Lesson Study can be described as a collaborative, learner-centred teacher development approach. As we plan the lesson, we should anticipate learners’ reaction to certain aspects of the lesson. We should be able to critique the lesson so as to eliminate any possibility of the lesson not achieving its objectives,” explained Qanya.
Over the five days of the workshop, the subject advisors drafted four lessons that they presented to the group for input before delivering them to four classes in selected schools around Hazyview. As one member presented the lesson in class, the rest observed and provided feedback during the debriefing session back at the training venue. Using the observation findings, the lessons were further refined, resulting in improved effective lessons ready for dissemination to Natural Sciences teachers across the province.
Mr Thomas Masango, Chief Education Specialist for Mathematics in the province, urged the subject advisors to always keep in mind the features of the lesson study that have assisted them to elevate lessons to being extraordinary. “The pockets of excellence that are now inherent in your lessons need to be expanded to the rest of the teachers. As subject advisors, it is your task to cascade this learning at the classroom level in a consistent and coordinated approach,” concluded Masango.