PIRATES Inspire me!
I was not an avid reader growing up. I would start a book and have a hard time getting into it. I wouldn't connect with the characters or the way the book was written. To be honest, I would usually read what was required of me and wouldn't explore much beyond that.
Once I became an adult, I started reading self-help books in my spare time more than fiction. I guess I felt like "self-improvement" was a better use of my time. Then I found myself reading books on education and I would fly through them! I would take notes, try new things, and share ideas with other educators as soon I was done. This is when I realized that I have to be INSPIRED when I read in order to stick with it! In May 2015, I purchased the book Teach Like A Pirate. This was the book that ignited a fire in my soul and started my addiction to all things PIRATE! This is just the beginning...
Teach Like A Pirate taught me...
P is for Passion - My content passions are culture and climate, technology integration, and building self-esteem and motivation. My professional passions are teaching others, bringing people together to collaborate & build relationships, and learning from others. My personal passions are self-improvement, entertaining for friends, organizing, decorating & crafts, and geeking out with tech tools and writing supplies.
Dave Burgess states, "Your passion will also help you become absolutely relentless in the pursuit of excellence." I believe this with my whole heart and am forever grateful to be reminded of this!
I is for Immersion - This quote says it all! "Your ability to completely give yourself up to the moment and fully "be" with your students is an awesome and unmistakably powerful technique... Students can feel it when you are truly present."
R is for Rapport - I completely agree with Dave when he says, "Nothing is more important to me than creating the proper atmosphere right from the start." Then to move into the "experience" of building this classroom culture should be the goal of all teachers. Between "Good Morning Training" and a "No-Meanness Zone", and all the other strategies he gives, what is not to love!
A is for Ask & Analyze - Using the creative process (the process of consistently asking the right questions) is a way to develop creative genius in our students. I love the question, "What could I write on the board for this lesson that would spark a conversation or create a buzz even before the bell rings?"! Teaching kids to think, be creative, open minded, knowing there's more than one right answer, and failure is okay, can make them open to all the ideas around them!
T is for Transformation - RAISE the BAR! Ask yourself...
1. If your students didn't have to be there, would you be teaching in an empty room?
2. Do you have any lessons you could sell tickets for?
If you are honest with yourself, this question can make you realize just how much you could change for the better. After all, "The goal is to transform your class into something irresistible to your students."
E is for Enthusiasm - This is something that's hard to fake, but possible! "Fake it 'til you make it" and "Bring it!" come to mind when I think of Enthusiasm. Using the "act as if" principle and changing what you focus on, are the ways to improve your enthusiasm, especially when you aren't really excited about what's your teaching/doing at that moment. One of my notes in the margins of this chapter is to watch Amy Cuddy Ted Talk on Body Language. It's a little long, but SO powerful! Also, if you've ever heard Dave Burgess speak, you can tell that this is his strength! It's infectious, so try it and "spread the virus"!
PIRATE Hooks! If you haven't checked these out, you must! These are amazing tools to create experiences and strong classroom culture for your students. I'm actually working on a post right now on how to use these hooks for coaching teachers and professional development. Come back soon! In the meantime, follow #tlap to get ideas from educators around the world.
Learn Like A Pirate taught me...
Student-Centered Classrooms are the best way to create students who care about their education and want to do and learn more on their own. That's the end goal, right? These are also those "soft skills" that businesses are saying that kids are missing when they enter the work force. Paul Solarz describes his student-led classroom as one in which students make decisions and choices throughout the day without consulting the teacher. Sounds AMAZING, doesn't it? AND, a little scary for teachers! This is not how it was when we went to school and it definitely isn't how we were taught to teach kids when we went to school to become teachers (unless you are a new teacher and it's starting to become more of a "best practice").
Learn Like a PIRATE stands for...
☆ Peer Collaboration If you want to create a student-led classroom, set the stage by establishing a "collaborative community."
☆ Improvement Focus vs. Grade Focus One of the students in Paul's book sums this up well! "I think it is good that grades don't matter and that the only thing that matters is improvement. If we are improving, that means we're good students learning new things."
☆ Responsibility Paul has his classroom set up so "students take responsibility for seeing to our classroom's needs, and they do so without much fanfare or interference" by him. Using things like classroom jobs, opportunities for collaborative responsibilities, and rituals, makes for a structured environment so students can "anticipate and respond to the classrooms needs".
☆ Active Learning This is a chapter you have to read to get ideas for your classroom which includes; PBL, technology integration, literature circles, debate, etc. Bottom line, "Don't just teach lessons, create an experience" as Dave Burgess says (and is quoted in this section)!
☆ Twenty-First Century Skills Focus You can't talk about 21st Century learning without mentioning the 4 C's. Again, these are soft skills needed in the real world! He actually mentions 34 skills in 11 categories based on P21 resources. "When you focus feedback on Twenty-First Century Skills, students feel less pressure to be academically perfect." These skills mixed with reflection creates the ability for students to set goals and own their learning while realizing (and accepting) that everyone has something they can improve upon!
☆ Empowerment I think this is my favorite section! Finding your passion as a student can be life changing! We can't wait until we are adults to figure it out. Paul uses "Passion Time" in his class and says, "Most children appreciate passion time so much that they put forth more effort into the rest of the school day." His formula for planning this time twice a week has a 5 step process that would be a great way to start off the year if you have ever thought about adding Passion Projects or 20% time to your class. You can get LOTS of ideas here! Basically...
"Empowerment = Enjoyment = Motivation = Effort = Achievement"
It's a Win-Win situation! If you've ever heard the term "Personalized Learning", this is also the starting point for that as well. Helping teachers see how important this is in our schools is a goal for me this year. It may take some time, but sharing these tips will give them a great place to start! You can also follow #learnlap for more ideas on student centered classrooms.
More PIRATE Lessons to come!
Up next in this series...
Lead Like A Pirate, The Zen Teacher, Innovators Mindset, Shake Up Learning, Four O'Clock Faculty, Ditch That Textbook, and more! Since summer is almost here for me, the list of PIRATE lessons will continue. Some people think I'm crazy for reading educational books all summer long, but it's when my mind is ready to focus on learning instead of the to-do list. One of my goals during the summer is to read by the pool while my kids play with friends and enjoy alarm-free time to just BE.
I'm an Instructional Coach at Daniel Island School in Berkeley County South Carolina.