I’m Setting Sail and Becoming a PIRATE

First of all, let me be honest.  I resisted reading TEACH LIKE A PIRATE Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator by Dave Burgess for quite some time. I’ll be honest here, it was the title. I don’t like pirates. Well, except for Captain Hook on ABC’s Once Upon a Time, but that’s an entirely different post. However, Dave Burgess hooked me with his definition of pirates. It looks like I’ve been a pirate all along and just didn’t realize it.

“Pirates are daring, adventurous, and willing to set forth into uncharted territories with no guarantee of success. They reject the status quo and refuse to conform to any society that stifles creativity and independence.”-Dave Burgess

This quote sums up the Teach Like a PIRATE philosophy and sets the tone for the book. If you’ve never read the book or it’s been awhile, set sail with me for a short voyage through the book.  I’ll briefly explain what each letter of the PIRATE acronym means and share my favorite quotes from the book.  (In case you don’t stay with me for the entire voyage, here’s the short version.  Read the book!  It will get you motivated to teach or it will help you reconnect with a passion that you thought you had lost.  It’s not just a feel good book, it has solid strategies for engaging your students and yourself.  You will find many strategies to hook your students into your lessons.  There’s bound to be one that you can feel comfortable with trying and then find one that takes you out of your comfort zone.)

One idea that really resonated with me from the book is when Dave (and since I’ve tweeted with him I feel I can call him Dave) speaks the hidden truth. We are not always passionate about what we teach. I think that’s why I’m always trying projects or trying new things. I don’t always enjoy every subject I teach and therefore am constantly finding ways to make those subjects more interesting to me, thereby making it engaging for my students.

So, before I share anymore quotes from the book and my thoughts about them, I’ll briefly explain what the PIRATE acronym means.

Passion-Feel passionate about what you’re teaching, even if you’re not passionate about it.
Immersion-Be immersed in the moment to engage your students.
Rapport-Getting to know your students and showing them that they are more than just a grade.
Ask and Analyze-Ask the right questions and be open to feedback.
Transformation-Reframe your subject to overcome barriers.
Enthusiasm-This is your most powerful tool. Use it freely.

A few more quotes that I identify with concerns the “cookie cutter” approach to teaching and collaboration.  It seems like more and more that either an administrator or a team conveys that idea that collaborative planning means we all do the same thing, on the same day, in the same way.  And, if you don’t, you are not a team player.  As good as the ideas in this book are, Dave cautions that what gets him excited will not necessarily work for someone else.  Again, the key is to find your personal and professional passion and bring those into your teaching.

“Resist any movement that attempts to clone teachers and lessons and instead rejoice in the fact that it is your individuality and uniqueness that will  always lead you to become the most effective teacher that you can be.”-Dave Burgess

“I strongly believe in the power of collaboration, but I don’t believe the final goal of such work should be to come to a single “right” way of teaching.”-Dave Burgess

“Let’s just be sure that the “definite purpose” of collaboration is improving education, not simply standardizing it.”-Dave Burgess

This post is getting incredibly long, but I hope it gives you an idea of what it means to be a teaching pirate and nudges you into the direction of reading it.  As I said, I resisted reading it and then couldn’t put it down. It renewed in me my passion for teaching and gave me that added reassurance that I am not alone in pursuing my passion for teaching.  Now, read the book and then join in the weekly Twitter chats at #tlap.  The Twitter chat is a great way to connect with other teachers finding their passions and engaging their students.  I’ve already met a lot of great pirates there!  As I end this post I’ll leave you with three more quotes to think about and then feel free to leave me a comment if any of these quotes have  resonated with you.

“You have to have a vision of what your ideal classroom experience looks like if you want to have any hope of creating it.”-Dave Burgess

“Don’t allow misguided and ill-informed critics to steal your enthusiasm for innovation.”-Dave Burgess

“One of the most rewarding parts of teaching is the personal and professional relationships we develop on our voyage”-Dave Burgess


3 thoughts on “I’m Setting Sail and Becoming a PIRATE

  1. Awesome post. I got the opportunity to see Dave this spring and it was the best educational presentation I’ve ever seen. Not even close to anything else. I’m sharing your post 🙂

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