The Learning Rainforest

The Learning Rainforest

Great Teaching in Real Classrooms

Tom Sherrington

The Learning Rainforest is a guide to making teaching both effective and manageable. Tom Sherrington provides an accessible summary of key contemporary evidence-based ideas for the classroom and the debates that all teachers should be engaging in, buoyed by his 30 years as a teacher and school leader. It’s a book packed with strategies for making great teaching attainable in the context of real schools.


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The Learning Rainforest is an attempt to capture the different elements of our understanding of teaching--the classroom experience we gain the hard way, and the research that can provide a greater context for what we do.

Tom Sherrington brings together the different elements of what constitutes “great teaching” through his own experience as a classroom teacher and school leader, and his extensive review of what research says works.

Brought to an American audience for the first time, this book is packed with strategies for making great teaching attainable in the context of real schools. Aimed at teachers of all kinds, busy people working in complex environments with little time to spare, it is both a celebration of, and guide to, great teaching. Part 1 is an exploration of the learning rainforest; an accessible summary of key contemporary, evidence-based ideas about teaching and learning, and the debates that all teachers should be engaging in. Part 2 is the learning rainforest in practice; the techniques and strategies busy teachers can implement in their own practice. 

Product Code: BPP190002
ISBN: 9781943920631 | 03/20/19
Publisher: LSI


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

Packed full of practical wisdom about classroom teaching. 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


The Learning Rainforest 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 and 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 Leaders

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. 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.”

– 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. 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

Teachers have been thrashed by changing tides of policy and ideology for decades. They have been bamboozled and confused by consultants and theories trying to shape them into this fad and that. They are tired and what they need   is a light. A sensible, balanced, well informed light. Tom’s book is that light for many teachers - especially for those in the secondary sector. It offers a way through the arguments and debates that sometimes polarise education, and in a clear, intelligent and open way, offers practical and thoughtful solutions.

– Debra Kidd, co-founder of Northern Rocks

Just as the rainforest is beautiful, Tom’s book is uniquely visual. Just as the rainforest has its dangers, Tom does not shirk from the difficult educational debates of our day. As much as we need to preserve our amazing rainforests, we should treasure this book and share Tom’s insights about teaching and learning far and wide.”

– Alex Quigley, Deputy Head, Director of Research, Huntington School, York

I recently re-read Ron Heifetz’ argument that leaders must ‘get on the balcony above the dance floor ... to see what is really happening’ - one of my favourite leadership metaphors. In this great book, Tom takes us all both up to the canopy and down onto the rainforest floor.

– Roo Stenning, Head of High School, St Andrews International School, Bangkok

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