“When the water flows, a channel is formed”: professional learning and practice innovation through district research lesson study in the context of China’s new curriculum reform
thesisposted on 06.01.2016, 16:05 by Haiyan Xu
This thesis investigates the systemic and contextualised nature of professional learning and practice development through district research lesson study (DRLS), a widespread LS practice in China. Through close examination of a DRLS case carried out in the context of curriculum reform in the subject area of EFL, the study focuses on understanding the conditions, processes, and outcomes of learning at three levels of analysis: individual teachers, subject teams, and the district EFL teaching community as a whole. The study focuses particular attention to the role and processes of language mediation in the professional learning and practice development of teachers, given the discursive nature of DRLS activities. The study shows that the DRLS provided a collaborative and continuous structure for supporting EFL teachers across a district to collectively make sense of the new curriculum framework, and to innovate, validate, and share practices in contexts of specific curriculum implementation. Over time, the district as a whole developed a shared public repertoire of practices and pedagogic ideas which permeated the thinking and practices of members of the district through the development of a common language for talking about practice. In the collaborative context of DRLS, different kinds of individual teacher’s learning were at play due to differences in their prior knowledge, understandings and approaches to participating in the DRLS. The different ways teachers used language to formulate their conceptions of practice also influenced their learning and practice development. At the team level, teams engaged in two distinct patterns of talk, each of which was reflected in different modes of collaboration and learning. The study proposes a new framework of talk and proposes explicit emphasis in future DRLS practices for developing teachers’ language practices as important ways of supporting their individual and collective learning in contexts of professional collaboration and curriculum development.