What is lesson study in the school sector?

Several have started using Lesson study in the school sector. Some use it in connection with supervision at school. You can use the method in supervision between existing colleagues, or student supervision of students. You can use the measure to improve teaching practice and create a common understanding between teachers (Udir, 2017). In this article, we will describe what the Lesson study is. Furthermore, read how to get started with systematic supervision.


Background – where does it come from?

Munthe, Baugstø, and Haldorsen (2013) explain the background for where the Lesson study comes from. In connection with TIMSS, videos from teaching in the USA, Germany, and Japan were analyzed. The analysis showed differences in how the teachers taught. Japanese teachers taught in line with what research says is good for students’ learning. It had a positive effect on the students who were more active in the lessons. The explanation for this difference in teaching is what they call the Lesson study. Research on the teaching lesson (Munthe, Baugstø, and Haldorsen, 2013).


Procedure in the method

The teachers start by going together in small groups. In this group, they will work together to improve teaching practice. Udir (2017) refers to the following steps in the Lesson study:

  1. Goal. Set goals for students’ learning: What is the goal of Lesson study ?
  2. Schedule classes. The teachers create the teaching lesson together. Designe this to achieve the goals in point one.
  3. Observation and implementation. One of the teachers in the group completes the teaching lesson as planned. This lesson is observed by another person, a colleague in the group, or from another team.
  4. Adjust and improve. After the observation, the teachers gather to discuss the teaching lesson in light of the observations. Did you reach the goals? Here, teachers can change and adjust the plan to achieve the goals.
  5. Repeat. Repeate the teaching session several times with adjustments. You can invite leaders and other teachers to observe.
  6. Convey. The group presents the findings they have come up with to several teachers and leaders.



To set SMART goals

When setting goals for the Lesson study, you may want to set SMART goals. This means that you set specific goals that you can later go back to assess achievement. For example, a goal that the students should become better at is a very general goal. It can be difficult to interpret and evaluate. What do you mean by better? How is this assessed? SMART great for:

  • Specifically. The goal must be clear. For example, The students should on average go up one grade, is more specific than that the students should become better.
  • Measurable. It must be possible to assess goal achievement. Think about how you should evaluate goal achievement.
  • Attractive. The goal should be something you want to achieve. There is no point in setting a goal that you do not want to work towards.
  • Realistic. It must be possible to reach the goal. For example, it may be unrealistic for all students to get top marks on the national test.
  • Time-bound. Set a deadline for when the goal is to be reached. When you knowthe deadlind, it is easier to work towards it.

SMART is a good rule of thumb when setting goals for students’ learning.


Schedule a lesson

Before you plan the teaching, you are welcome to examine and reflect on the students’ learning. Here are some questions you can reflect around:

  • What does the research say about students learning?
  • When are students active and participative?
  • What methods do you have good experience with?
  • And what methods do you have bad experiences with?


If someone has formal education or long experience, they should be happy to share their competence from the study or practice. The nice thing about this method is that it is easy to try and fail. You should not be afraid to try new methods. If the method does not work, you can later change and adjust the plan. Maybe you should use some new tools or measures?


When you plan the teaching, you should be specific and document the process. Write down what is the background and basis for the methods you have chosen. Also, write down a specific timed plan. Writing down the plan makes it easier to get a common understanding and later adjust the plan. It will also be easier to share experiences later once you have written down the basics.


Observe and complete the lesson

Decide who will complete the teaching and who will observe. Here is something you can think about when observing and completing the lesson:

  • Who will complete the lesson? You are welcome to draw a note about who will complete the teaching lesson.
  • And who should observe the teaching? Should it be one or more? Should it be with an external, or only one in the group?
  • Will the observer only sit in the back and say nothing, or be active?
  • Should photos or videos be taken? In that case, do you have to obtain consent in advance?
  • How shall you inform the students in advance of the lesson?
  • What to look for in the observation?

By preparing for observation and implementation, it will be easier to complete the lesson. You have made well-reflected choices and can vouch for the decisions that have been made.

Now it is just a matter of carrying out teaching and observation according to plan.

In case of illness/absence, you can either change the person who teaches and observes, or set a new date within a short time.


Adjust and improve the measure

The conversation after the observation should occur relatively quickly after the observation. Feel free to let the person who had the lesson present their thoughts about the lesson. Observers can then explain and view observation notes, photos, or videos. Reflect together on what is working and what you should change.


It is advantageous to involve external people from the higher education sector, managers, or researchers if you want input from outside. Once you have fine-tuned the scheme, you must re-evaluate who will implement it and who will observe. It can also be useful to take a look at how the observation is working. Are there any changes to be made there?


Repeat the lesson

Complete teaching lessons with any changes. The lesson should be observed and it should be documented how the students react to different aspects of the teaching lesson. You are welcome to repeat the test and fine-tune the teaching lesson until you are satisfied or it is not appropriate to continue further. Maybe you have set yourself a deadline that you must meet.


Communicate findings from the Lesson study

When you are comfortable with the teaching lesson, you must convey findings to the other teachers. You can consider communicating the findings to your colleagues only or making the findings open and accessible to more people. Remember privacy in this setting. Present the findings without violating any declarations of confidentiality. At the same time, you should think about how you present the findings. Think about presenting it in an inspirational way. See, how to create motivation for change. Talk together about where to present it, what to present, and who should the audience is. Also, consider who you are going to present to. Talk to your immediate supervisor about the communication. You can consider creating informational materials such as photos, documents, PowerPoint presentations, or videos. You do not have to choose a traditional form of lesson.


Advantages and disadvantages of Lesson study

As with all competence measures, it is challenging to have time to complete a lesson study in a busy workday. Grimsæth and Hallås (2011) also point out that leadership support is another challenge. Ask your leader before starting with the Lesson study. The measure can be met with skepticism, as it is a change measure. Furthermore, observation of the teaching itself can lead to a change in the students.


Grimsæth and Hallås (2011) also point to the benefits of the Lesson study. The teachers get to reflect on their practice and how it affects the students. They point out that this is important for professional development and communicative competence. Teachers get the opportunity to go in-depth on what is good teaching.


Lesson study with digital technology

Huang, Helgevold, and Lang (2021) investigated 13 studies that look at experiences with Lesson study online. They found both benefits and challenges of Lesson study online. They point out that technology can support the Lesson study in various ways. For example, technology can help in the phase where you plan the lesson or where you observe the lesson. Lesson study can be carried out fully digitally where everything is done online, or hybrid, where something is done online, but also physically.


Huang, Helgevold, and Lang (2021) refer to concrete examples where technology has helped to support the implementation of the Lesson study. It is e.g. co-writing in Google documents, with shared documents in Google drive and videos. The meetings can be conducted via Zoom or Teams. Pictures and videos of the teaching lesson can be taken as a basis for discussion in the teacher group. Video conferencing and video streaming have been used to disseminate the information to more people.



If you are interested in starting with Lesson study or improving your Lesson study, we want to talk to you about this. We investigate the need to develop a digital tool within the Lesson study. The purpose will be to make lesson study more effective and accessible in a hectic everyday life. It will also be to raise the quality and competence of Lesson Study as a measure, a low-hanging fruit. If this is of interest send an email to [email protected] or send a meeting request in our contact form.



Huang, R., Helgevold, N., & Lang, J. (2021). Digital technologies, online learning and lesson study. International Journal for Lesson & Learning Studies. https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/IJLLS-03-2021-0018/full/html  

Munthe, E., Baugstø, T og Haldorsen, A. K. (2013). Japanske takter i Bømlo kommune. Bedre Skole, nr. 1, s. 11–15.  https://www.researchgate.net/publication/285029119_Japanske_takter_i_Bomlo_kommune  

Udir (2017). Film: Lesson study. Link:  


Grimsæth, G., & Hallås, O. (2011). Når lærere ønsker å utvikle egen undervisningspraksis. Bedre skole, 2, 82-84. Link: http://skrivestien.skrivesenteret.no/uploads/docs/Barneskole/1_Trinn/UTD-BedreSkole0211-WEB_Grimsaeth_og_Hallaas.pdf  

Plan for supervision of graduates

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