Over the past thirteen years in education, the most powerful and transformative professional development that I participated in was Lesson Study. I was a participant in Project LEAD (Leading Educators in Academic Discourse). Project LEAD was a four-year math leadership professional development opportunity for teachers. From 2010-2014, I had incredible opportunities to coach and facilitate teachers with the transition to the California Common Core Math Standards. It was because of Lesson Study that I gained valuable knowledge, experience and leadership skills.
Project LEAD changed my teaching practices in the classroom in specific ways that made me a better teacher and leader. I learned about the importance of selecting high cognitive demand tasks for students, as well as how to change and strengthen my teaching practices through the use of You-We-I and Re-Engagement Lessons, which focus on student thinking and student discourse. I participated in three cycles of Lesson Study where the guiding questions for each cycle came from the analysis of the Standards for Mathematical Practice, all while focusing on what students were doing/thinking.
The professional development offered a balanced approach of effective teaching practices and leadership skills that I continue to use in my daily work as a site principal.