Well. What a week it’s been. As I write this I’m seeing that my new Rosenshine’s Principles in Action booklet is still in the top 50 of all books on Amazon and I’m stunned – as I have been all week. This post is simply a way to capture the moment because, for sure, it will pass and is unlikely to ever happen again.
Amongst plenty of other people, I’ve been promoting the simple power of Rosenshine’s principles for a while now, including in this post: Exploring Barak Rosenshine’s seminal Principles of Instruction: Why it is THE must-read for all teachers where I first re-organised the principles into four strands. I started doing ResearchEd talks about the principles – one of which was recorded for Swedish TV here:
It was after a researchEd event in the US that publisher Mark Combes emailed to suggest that a short ‘explainer’ would be a nice idea: he suggested 8-10,000 words, a format that is evidently quite common in the US. I wrote 12,000 words in about three days – short and sweet. Then John Catt picked it up to publish in the UK and suggested we put in the original principles – which are freely available to reproduce – to make up a short booklet.
And wow — it’s flown off the shelves. To begin with I was just chuffed to get one of those ‘Best-seller’ flags for topping an education list. (I’ve never had one for Learning Rainforest because other books are always ahead of me. ) But going way beyond that, within a week of its release the original 4000 copy print-run had completely sold out. This puts it up amongst the diet, recipe and self-help books and a few classics like 1984, and The Hungry Caterpillar and the Game of Thrones books. I’ve had a thrill seeing the booklet about teaching line up with the real big hitters:
At its peak it reached No. 17 on Sunday 19th:
I was certain the book would peak and then sink fast.. down to normal levels. (For comparison, Learning Rainforest spends most of its time ranked in the 2000s – and that’s doing pretty well as far I’m concerned.) I was also certain that people would be disappointed by the brevity – “is that it?” But I’ve been wrong on both fronts. The booklet has continued to sell all week and people seem very positive that it is short – in fact it’s the main reason people are buying so many – so they can give them out to lots of teachers, knowing how busy they are: short is good! Mark knows what he is doing.
As ever it’s a real joy to see all the positive reactions on twitter and to get photos of the books arriving. Nope – I never get tired of that! Thanks to everyone who has been so kind.
I also enjoyed recording this podcast with Phil Naylor. Have a listen:
To conclude – apologies for the outrageous self-congratulatory nature of this post. Probably I should just be all humble and quiet about it. But to be honest I’m too excited about it for that! If you’re interested, keep an eye out in autumn for The Learning Rainforest Fieldbook – a set of 30 school case-studies written by teachers and students in their own words. I’m working on it now and I think it’s going to be great; lots of voices from some fabulous schools. And then next year Oliver Caviglioli and I have a big plan for something rather special…..
Seems like a good place to reproduce this: the acknowledgement section from the Rosenshine Principles in Action booklet:
I owe the existence of this book to several people. First of all, Barak Rosenshine himself for obvious reasons! I hope I’ve done his work justice. Then Oliver Caviglioli who drew my attention to Rosenshine’s principles through his superb graphics. I’m thrilled that he found time to produce illustrations for this book alongside his many other projects. The idea for the book itself came from Mark Combes at Learning Sciences International in the US. He saw me give my Rosenshine talk at the 2018 ResearchEd event in Philadelphia organised by Eric Kalenze and felt that a short ‘explainer’ for teachers in the US might be useful. So this book would not exist without Mark and Eric or Tom Bennett, who has supported my involvement in ResearchEd events many times.
The UK edition has been enthusiastically embraced by Alex Sharratt at John Catt with the superb editorial oversight of Jonathan Woolgar. The US edition has been driven along by Dana Lake. I’m grateful for their support through the whole process.
I’d like to acknowledge some of the people who have helped me get to grips with the concepts in the book, directly or indirectly: Arthur Shimamura, Efrat Furst, Daniel Willingham, David Didau and Nick Rose, Paul Kirschner have helped me to develop a deeper understanding of learning processes. Finally, the staff at Oldham College and Brune Park School and my wife and Deputy Headteacher Deborah O’Connor have all helped me formulate ideas about putting theory into practice.
Thanks for this Tom. When I followed the links and had a chance to consider the implications of Rosenshine’s work and your brilliant commentary, that clearly added to the clarification of the key themes, I realised how challenging, self-explorative and expanding teaching can be. It made me wish that I could return to it. It also made me aware of how limiting and damaging some of the current routes into the profession are and how poor much continuing professional development is. I fully appreciate why this work would have excited you. There is no shame in celebrating a job well done. Keep it up.
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Congrats on your booklet’s success! Glad to see you’re enjoying it.
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[…] all this, Rosenshine’s Principles in Action, written rather casually as a ‘short explainer’ for the US market, has sold 55,000 […]