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Research School Network: Teaching WALKTHRUS by Tom Sherrington and Oliver Caviglioli As user-friendly as it looks, but ambitious in aim … a new must-read for teachers


Teaching WALKTHRUS by Tom Sherrington and Oliver Caviglioli

As user-friendly as it looks, but ambitious in aim … a new must-read for teachers

by St. Matthew's Research School
on the

Here is a book that is refreshingly different from most other books about teaching both in its aim and its presentation.


The aim: to be a technical manual’


It looks simple but its aim is ambitious: to ensure that all teachers can have 24÷7 access to … a compilation of the best of the profession’s practices.”


Presentation that follows its own advice


It presents its these practices in straightforward, concise language, with lots of pictures (dual coding) but it is deeply rooted in careful analysis of robust research into how humans learn – and it follows its own advice. Stylised drawings, for example, replace videos because research by Sweller et al (Cognitive Load Theory, 2011) suggests that videos are, counter-intuitively, hard to learn from. Too fast, too transient, too much irrelevant visual noise.’


The scope: what works, not what’s in fashion


This is not a book which loves the latest fad, as the authors make clear on the first page: Professional amnesia thwarts the attempt to build on past knowledge.’ There is a wonderfully succinct overview of some of the most robust evidence-based contributions to our understanding of the science of learning and an acknowledgement of how established, successful techniques can too easily be lost in favour of a new approach.


How would I use this book?


The authors suggest using this as a focus for coaching conversations to neutralize some of the emotion that clings to feedback, directing the emphasis back to a shared understanding of a common goal: good teaching. It would be an excellent tool for this.

But it also works as a book for teachers, a way to help them to use metacognitive and self-regulation strategies themselves. Not sure about your management of behaviour and relationships? Look at the key techniques and there’s clear, practical, ready to use advice about how to improve – alongside a note of the evidence base that underpins it. With sections on curriculum planning, explanation and modelling, questioning and feedback, practice and retrieval and more, it provides a comprehensive bridge between theory and practice.

It’s not a checklist or a recipe book: there’s an explicit acknowledgement that it wouldn’t be possible to use all the techniques all the time and you would need to use judgement about which techniques to use when. But it is a guide to the most important things for a teacher to think about and it does manage to break down the complexity of teaching into smaller steps so that, little by little, anyone can become a more effective teacher.

Quite simply, it’s the book I wish I’d had when I started out in teaching… but at least I have it now.

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