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Teaching Better

Teaching Better
Igniting and Sustaining Instructional Improvement

A Joint Publication With Learning Forward

Additional resources:

May 2016 | 200 pages | Corwin
Discover the power of collaborative inquiry!

This unique, visually stunning resource is packed with details to ignite and sustain the collaborative improvement of teaching and learning. Includes U.S. and international case studies, powerful metaphors, application exercises, a Leader’s Guide, a companion website, digital templates, and more. Learn what lesson study and collaborative inquiry can and should look like. Find the guidance you need to lead and support school-wide, inquiry-based improvement!
List of Improvement Portraits
List of Companion Website Content
Foreword by Ronald Gallimore
About the Authors
About the Artists
1. One Plank at a Time: The Steady Discipline of Instructional Improvement
2. Learning to Learn From Teaching: A Firsthand Account of Lesson Study in Japan
3. Expanding Horizons: A Case Study of US Teachers Collaborating to Change Practice
4. Deepening Knowledge: Why Expansive Change Is Difficult and What We Might Do About It
5. Matching Vision With Resources: A Reconceived Model for Leadership and Assistance
6. Multiplying Power: How Joint Productive Activity Revived Two Problematic Teams
7. Remaining Stubborn for a Long Time: Six Practitioner Stories of Courage and Persistence
Appendix: Leader’s Guide to Improvement Portraits
Glossary: Japanese Words and Phrases


"If you think improving teaching is hard, hard work, this book will confirm that belief. But it also shows, through careful observation and research, how much can be achieved when the work of getting better is done right. A true inspiration for educators who want to improve both their own craft and the methods of the profession."

Jim Stigler and James Hiebert, Authors of The Teaching Gap

"Written by two teachers who experienced lesson study while they taught in Japan, this well-written book makes an important contribution to our understanding of lesson study and instructional improvement more broadly. Compelling case studies bring to life the process of collaborative inquiry. Teachers, coaches, school and district administrators will find useful tools to grow and support school-wide inquiry-based improvement."

Catherine Lewis, Distinguished Research Scholar, Mills College Oakland

"Teaching Better is a rich, knowledgable, authoritative tour de force. It combines beautifully selected imagery, solidly crafted guiding principles with compelling evidence and personal accounts of practice and improvement. But while imagining and thinking big, the book attends to the detail (as its principles dictate), offering school and system leaders many practical strategies for steering enquiry, quality, cultural change and impact in schools. The passion, authenticity and authority of the authors ring out on every page. This book should ignite the imaginations of policy makers as well as professionals and leaders worldwide."

Peter Dudley, Visiting Professor of Education at Leicester University, Secretary of the World Association of Lesson Studies, Education adviser under three prime ministers, & founder of Lesson Study UK

"Through compelling images, metaphors and insights from their research in Japan and the United States, Brad Ermeling and Genevieve Graff-Ermeling vividly remind us that learning to teach well is an ongoing journey for the long haul. This powerful book is a must read for teachers and leaders who embrace the idea of deep and continuous instructional improvement and want to know how to realize it in their schools."

Margaret Heritage, Senior Scientist, WestEd

"Teaching Better is a compelling and detailed account of the "talk," interactions, and work products that characterize substantive improvement activities. A significant contribution to the work of improvement science."

Ronald Gallimore, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, UCLA

"For those policymakers, administrators, and practitioners considering how to improve instruction through teacher collaboration, read Teaching Better. Filled with case studies, the book has an undentable rationale and clear road map for teachers to work together."

Larry Cuban, Professor Emeritus, Stanford University Graduate School of Education

"The authors remind us that teaching is a craft, enhanced through collaboration with colleagues, self-reflection and study. The book provides a thoughtful guide, not a silver bullet, to the shared journey between teachers and administrators in ensuring student academic success."

Thelma Meléndez de Santa Ana, Former USDOE Assistant Secretary of Education, former Superintendent; presently Chief Executive Officer of Educational Services, Los Angeles Unified School District

"The successful transition to teaching and learning in the digital age is dependent upon close attention to pedagogy and intentional use of time and resources to build cultures of collaboration across our school systems. Teaching Better is a must read for school and district leaders...especially those on the front lines of “change.”

David Miyashiro, Superintendent, Cajon Valley Union School District

"While the research is clear on what makes professional learning effective, few schools are truly engaging in it. Based on their deep firsthand experience of lesson study while teaching in Japan for seven years, Brad and Genevieve Ermeling present a compelling solution to improve teaching: continuous, collaborative inquiry. By providing us with useful examples, tools, strategies, and reflection questions, their book skillfully shows us how to translate the lesson study approach for American schools."

Jenn David-Lang, The Main Idea

"Teaching Better clearly and dramatically demonstrates how Lesson Study and systematic collaborative inquiry can serve as powerful tools for engaging educators in the deep and complex work of continually improving teaching."

Laurie Baccus, Assistant Superintendent, Instructional Services, Whittier City Schools

Sample Materials & Chapters


Chapter 1

For instructors

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ISBN: 9781506333465

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