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Saturday, May 30, 2020

Collaborative Practitioner Inquiry: Perspectives on Lesson Study in the Philippines

by Sally B. Gutierez
This paper presents my perspectives on collaboration on the practitioner inquiry nature of lesson study that was conducted by a group of elementary school science teachers in the Philippines. Grounded on the conception that an effective professional development requires teachers’ opportunities and self-initiatives to work together, teachers’ collaboration with science education researchers shaped the teachers’ openness and shared leadership. Thus, as a team of science education researchers, we instituted a regular collaborative discussion on how to improve their inquiry-based lessons. In this activity, I personally focused my observation on how collaboration developed their sense of interdependency. Together with us, the various stages of their lesson planning included conceptualization, data gathering and analysis, interpretation of results—a series of processes which embraces the concept of learning by doing. Through interdependency, they enhanced their interactions and professional worth as their opinions were acknowledged in the collaborative inquiry.
During the conduct of lesson study, I can say that the strength of the teacher learning community can be attributed to the collective endeavor in the development of collective knowledge.This can be grounded on the shared environment where intellectual growth is highly regarded while maintaining mutual trust and respect for multiple perspectives. Teachers’ inquiry was supported by mentors who acted as co-learners or co-creators of knowledge for teaching (Beck & Kosnik, 2002). Inquiry-driven learning was established in a community that centered on personal practice which “involves a knowledge of teaching about teaching and a knowledge of learning about teaching and how the two influence one another” (Loughran, 2008, p. 1180).

Collaboration in lesson study, therefore, acknowledges the fact that teachers are also learners with diverse set of knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs; that they too needed advisers in order to optimize their learning process. Thus, creating a learning community consisting of a group of teachers with shared goals, can lead to a wider range of practitioner inquiry (van Es, 2012).  This can be extended to a collaborative reflection about theory and practice; the theory may come from experts, as well as their existing knowledge from pre-service teacher education and the practice may come from their daily routines and other issues about their day-to-day teaching experiences (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1999; Darling-Hammond & Sykes, 1999).

Teachers try-out collaboratively their inquiry-based lesson.
As a personal insight, as we and the teachers established equal roles, our shared reflections probed the collaborative understanding of their experiences for authentic learning from their own classrooms. Thus, providing a space to acknowledge their capabilities instead of creating a dichotomy of roles (as teachers and academic experts) can be a way to enrich their agency and effectiveness. In a decade of curriculum change in the Philippine education curriculum, much research is needed in empowering teachers to explore their own classrooms. Through collaborative lesson study, knowledge and practice can be aligned as educators gradually establish collegial interaction in a practitioner inquiry. Centered on lesson planning as the primary means of teacher collaborative activity and reflective practice, the consultation sessions assured the support and convergence of ideas and collective beliefs as potential routes to uplift the professionalism of teachers.

References
Beck, C., &Kosnik, C. (2002). Components of a good practicum placement: Student teachersperceptions. Teacher Education Quarterly, 29, 81-98.
Loughran, J. (2008). Toward a Better Understanding of Teaching and Learning about Teaching.In Handbook of Research on Teacher Education: Enduring Questions in ChangingContexts. 3rd ed., edited by M. Cochran-Smith, S. Feiman-Nemser, and J. McIntryre,1177–1182. New York: Routledge.
van Es, E. A. (2012). Examining the development of a teacher learning community: The case ofa video club. Teaching and Teacher Education, 28,182-192.doi:10.1016/j.tate.2011.09.005
Cochran-Smith, M., & Lytle, S. L. (1999). Relationships of knowledge and practice: Teacherlearning in communities. Review of Research in Education, 24, 249-305. doi:10.2307/1167272
Darling-Hammond, L., & Sykes, G. (Eds.). (1999). Teaching as the learning profession:Handbook of policy and practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

This paper was presented at the 2018 East-Asian Association of Science Education (EASE) Annual Conference held at National Dong Hwa University in Hualien Taiwan on 29 November to 02 December 2018.
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