The role of the outside expert

The involvement of an outside expert is critical to the success of lesson study, as this person will have a broader experience across schools and an understanding of research that might inform the learning. In most cases this person will come from a higher-education institution. The outside expert has several roles to play:

  • Lesson planning
    The outside expert should be involved in some way in the planning process and should discuss the details of the lesson with the planning team. Even if this is not possible, he or she should receive a final version of the lesson plan at least a week prior to the research lesson so that he or she has time to prepare for the research lesson.
  • Preparing for the Research Lesson
    The outside expert needs to look in detail at the lesson plan, trying the task themselves and anticipating how students might respond at different stages of the task. They should consider how well the plan in its final form anticipates what might happen. At this stage the outside expert will already be considering things they may wish to raise in the post-lesson discussion. If anything in the plan is unclear, they may need to contact someone in the planning group for clarification. Before the research lesson the outside expert, as well as all observers, should avoid sharing their thoughts on the lesson plan before the lesson, in case this alarms the teacher or prejudges what will happen.
  • Contributing to the post lesson discussion
    At the post-lesson discussion, the outside expert brings additional knowledge to inform the discussions of the lesson study group and consider future directions. He or she may wish to join in the post-lesson discussion along with the other observers but in adopting and adapting Japanese practices we suggest the expert is given 10 minutes at the end of the meeting to try to deepen and extend the thinking of the group. This final comment is not intended to be an evaluative summary. Its purpose is to stimulate participants to think more deeply by drawing on knowledge from beyond the classroom that is selected judiciously to have immediate relevance. These comments might include some pre-planned thinking, but they do need to connect closely with the lesson in ways that move forward the thinking of the group.

Now watch the final views of the 'outside expert', on the Outbreak! Lesson.
  • What evidence from research does he introduce?
  • What does he suggest as a follow-up to this Lesson Study?