The Learning Rainforest
Tom Sherrington, Oliver Caviglioli
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.
'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
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