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The Learning Rainforest is an attempt to capture various different elements of our understanding and experience of teaching. It is a celebration of great teaching - the joy of it and the intellectual and personal rewards that teaching brings.
It is aimed at teachers of all kinds; busy people working in complex environments with little time to spare. The core of the book is a guide to making teaching both effective and manageable; it provides an accessible summary of key contemporary evidence-based ideas about teaching and learning and the debates that all teachers should be engaging in. It's a book packed with strategies for making great teaching attainable in the context of real schools. The Learning Rainforest metaphor is an attempt to capture various different elements of our understanding and experience of teaching.
Tom's ideas about what constitutes great teaching are drawn from his experiences as a teacher and a school leader over the last 30 years, alongside everything he has read and all the debates he's engaged with during that time. An underlying theme of this book is that a career in teaching is a process of continual personal development and professional learning as is engaging in fundamental debates rage on about the kind of education we value. As you meet each new class and move from school to school, your perspectives shift; your sense of what seems to work adjusts to each new context.
In writing this book, Tom is trying to capture some of the journey he's been on. He has learned that it is ok to change your mind. More than that - sometimes it is simply necessary to get your head out of the sand, to change direction; to admit your mistakes.
About the author
Tom Sherrington has been a teacher for 29 years and a Headteacher for 11 years working in a wide range of exciting schools. He is now a freelance consultant sharing many of his thoughts about teaching through his popular blog teacherhead.com
‘I found Tom’s book wise, balanced, practical, and grounded in research. I’m confident it will help teachers not only to choose the best guidance but to implement it and what’s more to coordinate it with other sounds ideas. It’s a compelling road map to building a successful school.’ Doug Lemov, author Teach Like A Champion and Reading Reconsidered
‘Tom Sherrington is a rare thing- a head teacher who can write, not just elegantly, but intelligently. One would be valuable enough. Being capable of both make him and his work essential reading for school leaders everywhere. He also has the gift of not only a career full of experience, but the capacity to unpack his experience in such a way as to make it not just intelligible, but relevant. One of the reasons for this is that he embraces the complexity of the school leader’s role without losing sight of the overarching moral purposes to leadership. Rather than writing a book - as so many books on leadership are - of ‘here’s what I did and you should do it too,’ he assists the reader in developing their own journey through what may or may not work - and in what contexts. Accessible without being reductivist, intelligent without being opaque, this should be on the bookshelves of any school leader interested in reflecting on what they do.’ Tom Bennett, Director of ResearchEd
‘What is truly astonishing about this book is the amount of distilled wisdom packed into it. It combines a huge amount of significant research with decades of Tom’s own invaluable experience of working at the chalk-face to form a coherent, practical and thought provoking book that will be an indispensable guide for years to come. Simply put, this is the book I wish I had read when I started teaching.' Carl Hendrick, head of research, Wellington College
'This book is packed full of practical wisdom about classroom teaching. Tom Sherrington draws upon his own wide ranging experience from his career as a teacher, adding reflective insight as a prolific blogger and educational thinker. The content includes presentation of research-informed pedagogy gained from the world of cognitive science successfully combined with down-to-earth examples of how research theory can achieve powerful impact within the busy classroom. Written in an entertaining style using the extended metaphor of a 'managed rainforest' this book provides a useful and compelling read for anyone interested in education.' Dame Alison Peacock, Chief Executive, Chartered College of Teaching
'Tom Sherrington takes the metaphor of the forest to shape his arguments about practice and in doing so, helps the reader to get purchase on some really important ideas. 'The Learning Forest’ is a piece of work underpinned by humility - nothing ever goes quite to plan. Well, that’s a relief, because I thought it was just me. Tom uses the personal to explain the bigger picture and makes the case for humour, compassion and heart being at the centre of our work. Tom has managed to balance the big picture with detail, the theoretical with the practical, and has produced a work which everyone, at whatever stage in their career, will find invaluable.' Mary Myatt, education adviser, author of ‘High Challenge, Low Threat’ & ‘Hopeful Schools’
'In the time I have known Tom Sherrington – in person and online – I have learnt so much about pedagogy and classroom practice from his blogs and tweets. Now it’s a treat to have a compendium of his experience, wisdom and insights, all rooted in such an optimistic view about why great teaching matters. This is likely to be an indispensable book for classroom practitioners at all stages of their career.' Geoff Barton, General Secretary, Association of School and College Leadersâ€¨
'I love the humility that comes through in the reflections of Tom’s personal experiences and find his find his thoughts and ideas insightful and highly optimistic about the profession and the art and craft of teaching. Reading it in my headteacher role, it feels as though Tom has articulated my truth – he talks to the challenges we face: balancing autonomy with routines, progress with tradition, maverick and creative personalities with compliance. He gives a beautiful articulation and drawing together of the concepts, ideas, philosophies and issues that head teachers like myself grapple with in order to achieve the best possible education for their students. I like that he is not preaching a quick fix for great teaching but drawing together ‘the best of what has been thought and said’ in education to open up teachers’ minds to the creative flux of the learning rainforest! It’s like a Bill Bryson ‘short’ of everything teaching related! Part 2 is a ‘godsend’; the explanations and ideas within each strand (C, K, P) and the emphasis on mode A teaching is brilliant. It’s a great book; a ‘must read’ for all teachers.' Sam Gorse, Headteacher, Turton High School, Bolton
'This book is a big leap forward in transcending the sterile debates between traditionalists and progressives. Hacking through the undergrowth of academic research and passing fads, Tom takes his readers on a journey (through the rainforest) to the sunny uplands of classrooms in which powerful learning and rich experiences can flourish.This is a great book to read for those who want to be better informed about the education debate today. Tom’s passion for great teaching shines through on every page. He is a great writer and a great thinker and one of the most perceptive and insightful analysers of the education system. Tom’s gift is for getting beneath the arguments and bluster and making sense of complex issues, whether it is the curriculum, assessment or developments in brain science. Fans of his blog will not be disappointed – fresh insights and clarity jump out of every page. Practical strategies give teachers a much-needed toolkit of workable practice. Whether you agree with every word here is not the point – this is a book that will get you thinking, reflecting, changing the way you teach, and questioning the very essence of effective teaching.' Peter Hyman, Executive Headteacher, School 21
|No of pages||302|
|Publication Date||13 Oct 2017|