Yesterday I had the pleasure of seeing Dave Burgess, author or Teach Like a PIRATE, speak. About two years ago I read his book and learned what it took to become a PIRATE. It reinforced some of what I was trying to change and gave me new insights into other ways I could better my teaching for the good of the students. Seeing Dave in person reminded me of how great (and easy to implement) his ideas are.
One of the ideas I was reminded of is the passion (the P in PIRATE) teachers bring into the classroom. I hear/read many complain lately about what is going on in their classrooms and their schools. They doubt they can continue beyond the year they are in. Healthy venting/complaining is normal. Wondering if you can last beyond your first few years in the classroom is worrisome. Some of what is happening is beyond the teacher’s control (admin issues, parents that feel schools work against them, a system where teachers aren’t always valued), but some of it can be used to change the negative.
Dave shared some stories from his time in the classroom, most of which made me want to be one of his students! He also shared how he has certain content that he just can’t get into. No matter what you teach, there are certain units you wait the whole year to get to. It’s one of those areas that you can’t wait to share with the students. For some it’s Shakespeare or fractions or penguins. No matter what it is, you are passionate about it. THEN, there is that unit that you dread every year and hope the students understand quickly so it will pass. For me, it is 4th grade long division. (Thankfully I’m not a 4th grade teacher this year and get to miss it!) It’s hard to have passion for every content we must teach, but that’s okay. Students need to see that not everyone is thrilled about everything they must do. That doesn’t mean you should complain the whole way through, but it’s these times where we lean on the second passion.
Here is your professional passion. Why did you become a teacher? This answer is different for every one of us. It’s the reason behind what we do. It’s what gets us through the tough days (weeks, months and even years). It can be a simple answer (I like working with kids) or more complicated (I want to give kids a better school experience than I had). Mr. Burgess shares how he uses LCLs (Life Changing Lessons) to bring his passion to this times where he doesn’t feel that content passion. How can you bring your professional passion into the classroom on those days when it’s harder? Try bringing in your personal passions.
The last passion mentioned in the book is the personal. Many teachers say they try to keep their personal life separate from their school life. (How they do this I will never know. I’m still working on that whole balance thing 20+ years into this.) However, bringing your personal passions can make the class more engaging for the students (and you!). Dave brings his passion for music and magic into his lessons. My passion for ed tech has transformed my teaching. Students can tell when you are 100% engaged in what you are teaching by how you are teaching it. Why not bring in what you do outside the classroom to make those difficult lessons and days more interesting? Your passion doesn’t have to be subject related. Maybe you are the worst singer in the world. Students don’t care. They will just know that you light up with every song you play for them. Find ways to bring your passion into as many lessons as you can. It will make it fun for everyone in the room.
I could go on for hours about Teach Like a Pirate and Dave Burgess and the ideas that can help change your teaching. If you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend it. I also recommend seeing Mr. Burgess in person. To get a glimpse, check out his TEDx talk. For the truly passionate, try participating in the #tlap chats Mondays at 6PT/9ET. Are you now or will you become a PIRATE?
20+ year teacher, mother of 2 kids and 2 dogs, wife, lover of all things M&M, interested in tech in the classroom, and changing up my teaching