Tuesday, August 6, 2019

A Pirate's Class for Me!

Dave Burgess TEACH LIKE A PIRATE—Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator

Confession. It took me more years than I care to admit to bring Dave Burgess’s book
Teach Like A Pirate to the top of my reading pile. My loss for waiting so long! His enthusiasm is not only contagious but genuinely heartfelt. I both read the book and listened to it through the Audible app. I recommend both methods.

As I was listening to Burgess read the book, one word comes to mind...passion. Passion for teaching. Passion for students. Passion for learning. He shares, “...we must intentionally find ways to bring passion to our work every day” (p. 4). He breaks passion into three specific categories, including Content Passion, Professional Passion, and Personal Passion. For me, here lies the secret of Burgess’s message. “By consciously focusing on identifying, developing, and using all three of these categories, it is absolutely possible to become a powerfully passionate teacher every day of the school year” (p. 4). 

Isn’t this precisely what we want each of our students to experience? A teacher who is excited about creating a classroom environment that inspires and empowers our students to explore learning in meaningful ways. One of his earliest chapters is on building rapport, making connections, and developing the trust needed with both the teacher and other students starting with the first three days.

Burgess shared the cornerstone of teaching like a pirate is not only passion but enthusiasm too. “If you apply nothing else from this book, but your consistently ramp up your enthusiasm level in the classroom, you will be far ahead of the game and a dramatically better teacher” (p. 65). How you convey your message matters, and it takes effort and careful planning to make it genuine and relevant for our students. He encourages teachers to bring your enthusiasm every single day for students.

Finally, it couldn’t be a pirate book without a few “hooks.” Burgess provides multiple examples of lesson presentation “hooks” for students to become active participants in their learning. For example, “The Mozart Hook” (p. 97-99) gives you several lesson design hooks ideas. Do you have music playing when students enter the classroom or turn it on during the lesson to emphasize content? Do you use music during transitions, or for a brain break? Are their song lyrics that could add emphasis to your lesson? What about having students recreate a song with their words to help them retain the lesson’s content? 

As you can see, the “hook” options are endless. It doesn’t have to be just a music hook to make the learning engaging, relevant, and meaningful for students. Presentation hooks can include movement, gamifying, magic, crafts, etc., but find ways to “Teach Like A Pirate” that ultimately connects with your learners.

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