This paper aims to examine key characteristics of exemplary mathematics instruction in Japanese classrooms. The selected findings of large-scale international studies of classroom practices in mathematics are reviewed for discussing the uniqueness of how Japanese teachers structure and deliver their lessons and what Japanese teachers value in their instruction from a teacher’s perspective. Then an analysis of post-lesson video-stimulated interviews with 60 students in three “well-taught” eighth-grade mathematics classrooms in Tokyo is reported to explore the learners’ views on what constitutes a “good” mathematics lesson. The co-constructed nature of quality mathematics instruction that focus on the role of students’ thinking in the classroom is discussed by recasting the characteristics of how lessons are structured and delivered and what experienced teachers tend to value in their instruction from the learner’s perspective. Valuing students’ thinking as necessary elements to be incorporated into the development of a lesson is the key to the approach taken by Japanese teachers to develop and maintain quality mathematics instruction.
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