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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Teach Like a Pirate (Part 1)

Each summer my school asks us to read a certain book over the summer. Last year it was “The Positive Dog” and this year it is “Teach Like a Pirate”. 

I think this is a really unique thing to do because it starts everyone off on the same page and on a positive note. Last year the book’s underlying message was positivity. This year it is definitely more focused on teaching and how to up your game a little more in the classroom. Since we share the book with everyone in our department, I can’t write in it or make notes to myself in it, so I thought writing a blog about it would help me remember the key points and what stuck out to me so I can refer to it all year. I have only read Part 1 so far, but it has already gotten me excited about stepping back in the classroom and I already know a couple new things I want to try.

This post is my notes over Part 1. He has a word/explanation for each letter of PIRATE. Some of these might not make any sense since they are just my notes, I definitely recommend reading the book to get the full details.

Teach Like a Pirate

Passion – (3 different types)
·         Content Passion - within your subject matter, what are you passionate about teaching? Fractions!!
·         Professional Passion - within your profession, but not specific to your subject matter, what are you passionate about?  What is it about being an educator that drives you? What ignites a fire inside you? He had LCLs (life- changing lessons) embedded in every lesson. Refuse to enter the classroom with anything less than a burning passion for the awesome job that lies before you. 
·         Personal Passion - completely outside or your profession, what are you passionate about? Bring your personal passions into the classroom. Don't clone teachers and lessons, instead use your individuality and uniqueness because that is how you become the most effective teacher that you can be. 

Give them your undivided attention. A lifeguard sits above the action and supervises. Although s/he is focused, there is a distinct sense of disconnect both physically and mentally. If you were immersed, than you would be swimming. A swimmer is out participating and an integral part of the action. Be the swimmer, not the lifeguard in your classroom. 
This one really hit home because I am definitely self aware that my whole day/lessons go 100x better when I am fully present (mentally and physically). The days that I had outside things going on that were stressful or when I was trying to get something done along with teach, those are the days I came home frustrated. Those were also the days I usually became short tempered with students and so I need to remember immersion every day!

The first few days are crucial in building a safe learning environment and building a rapport with your students.
2 things caught my attention:
·         1st day play-doh activity. They build something that is in some way representative of themselves. Teacher makes his/her way up and down the rows talking to each student and having them introduce themselves. I ask them questions about their creation and "rescue" any student who is struggling to find something to say. Everyone leaves class feeling like they have been successful.
·         Not only do I need to get to know the students names but the students need to know the students in their class. Offer a prize or something to any students that can tell you the name of every student in the class at the end of the activity. Maybe even allow them to do this during the whole first week of school. 

Ask & Analyze
Creative ideas don't come from out of the blue; they come from engaging in the creative process. That critical process starts when you ask the right type of questions and then actively seek the answers. 
Creativity is rarely about natural brilliance or innate genius, but instead creativity results from proper directed attention, laser-like focus, relentless effort and hard work. Don't ever say, "well I'm just not hat creative"! Some example questions.
·         Where is the best place on campus to deliver this lesson?
·         What can I write on my board for this lesson that would spark a conversation or create a buzz even before the bell rings.
The quality of your question is critical. Don't ask "how can I make this lesson bearable for my students today and keep them awake?" Instead, ask "how can I make this lesson outrageously entertaining, engaging, and powerful so that my students will never forget it and will be desperate to come back for more?"
Your creative ideas will come to you probably at the most random times. Have a way to write it down, because you will probably forget about it. (I always put mine in the Notes section of my phone. I almost always have my phone with me, so this is logical to me.) 
If you haven't failed in the classroom lately, you aren't pushing the envelope. "Safe" lessons are a recipe for mediocrity at best. (Ouch!)

Is your class just like everyone else's or is yours the purple cow, something interesting that they've never seen before. 
If your students didn't have to be there, would you be teaching in an empty room?
Do you have any lessons you could sell tickets for?
It's time to up your game!!

You must be "on" all hours of the day. I feel like this one comes natural to me. Coming from a performing background, there really is no difference. Your last hour should get the same energy and enthusiasm as the 1st, 2nd and 3rd. I used to do 5 shows a day when I performed at Silver Dollar Ciry, so I am definitely used to this!
Two Ways to Light Your Fire:
·         Act enthusiastic. You can't fake passion, but you can fake enthusiasm. "Fake it until you make it."
·         Change you focus. If you are completely exhausted and can barely keep your eyes open and then someone calls to deliver good news or you remember something that’s critically important that you forgot to do, you are instantly excited or you jump up to go do what you forgot. All you are doing is changing your focus. 
It doesn't matter what we teach. Our mission is to teach in such a way that who we are as human beings has a more powerful and lasting effect on students than what we say. When we model enthusiasm it rubs off on everybody around us; it is contagious. 

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