Teacher Highlights

Berenice Heinlein, Jinny Gerhardt, Brian Girard & Jeffrey Rossiter
Peirce School of International Studies

FFT Fellows Lesson Study Japan 2019.jpg

Inspired by the opportunity to experience a particular form of professional development in its place of origin, four educators from Helen C. Peirce School of International Studies collaboratively designed a Fund for Teachers Fellowship that would enable them to participate in the “International Math-Teacher Professionalization Using Lesson Study” (IMPULS) Program in Tokyo, Japan.

As educators at Peirce School, Berenice Heinlein, Jinny Gerhardt, Brian Girard, and Jeffrey Rossiter serve a diverse community of approximately 1,045 students, 61% of whom are from low-income families. Peirce is considered one of the best neighborhood schools on Chicago’s North Side; however these teachers recognized a need for improved math instruction across grade levels.

Lesson Study is a collaborative, teacher-led process where educators meet together to study student trends and content, plan lessons, teach and observe a live lesson, and reflect on insights gained from closely observing student thinking. Each of the four Fellows has previously attended the Lesson Study Institute, and receives ongoing guidance and support from renowned leaders in this practice.

Peirce School has slowly begun to adopt Lesson Study practices and has seen impacts in both growth and attainment in the National MAP NWEA assessment in math.

“We’re grateful to the Chicago Foundation for Education and Fund for Teachers, and look forward to observing problem-solving classrooms in Japan and dissecting a carefully thought-out lesson on subject matter that we teach in our own classrooms,” said Mrs. Gerhardt. “After this experience, we plan to shift the professional culture of our school by leading the implementation of Lesson Study as an opportunity for professional development. We hope our efforts will improve teacher practice and enhance student learning.”

The experience abroad will allow these educators to gain perspective on their own practices by reflecting on what works well and what doesn’t, based on evidence collected during each lesson they observe. The Fellows will interact with teachers and gather pointed, useful feedback that will influence how they revise their teaching strategies.

“Lesson Study is not just about one lesson; it is a holistic approach to educating and connecting with students,” explained Mrs. Heinlein. “This is difficult, but our team is ready to meet the associated challenges, and we’re excited to help students think more critically about math.”