Teachers’ Engagement in Lesson Study for Learning Community: Shaping Teachers’ Beliefs about Students from Disadvantaged Social Backgrounds

Project Number
OER 18/15 JH

Project Duration
January 2016 - February 2018

Status
In-Progress

Abstract
This study explores how teachers perceive and discuss students from diverse social backgrounds during the process of lesson study, how such perceptions get reinforced and challenged in the professional learning community, and how such perceptions influence their classroom instructions in two Singapore primary schools serving the low income neighborhoods. Based on the theory of boundary work (Lamont, 2000), the researchers plan to chart how teachers' cultural belief on the social differences influence their understanding of their students as “others’ children” and how such an understanding is shaped by their participation in the process of lesson study for learning community (LSLC). The study uses qualitative research approaches, observations and interview, to investigate how teachers’ perceptions on students with disadvantaged backgrounds evolve in the process of LSLC. The current study may help us discern how cultural beliefs influence the teachers’ perceptions about the students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and how the cultural beliefs shape and are being shaped by the participants' social interactions. This is important for teacher education as the commonly held perceptions on groups of students influence teachers’ decision making in their classrooms (Tatto, 1996; Jiang, 2012). A number of instructional strategies are often preferred for low-achieving minority children (such as the direct instruction model) encourage “[teachers’] behaviors believed to communicate low ability attributions” (Graham, 1990, p.34). Thus, this study assumes that it is vital to raise the awareness of teachers of student diversity and incorporate this awareness in teaching and learning; in the meantime alert them with the possibility of using the diversity as justifications for instructional teaching practices that may disadvantage the very students they hope to help. Further, it examines how teachers' cultural beliefs on the students from diverse backgrounds could be reenforced or challenged when they participate in the dialogic professional development activities provided by the lesson study for learning community.

Funding Source
NIE

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