Friday, March 6, 2015

Shhh!!! Don't Tell Them That They Might Be Pirates

I am writing this on a Friday afternoon when we had a delayed opening and everything we needed to get done got pushed into a 4 hour window. I am writing this with the idea the our district is lucky enough to have a PD day next week when Dave Burgess, of Teach Like A Pirate  fame will be our
keynote and session leader. I was inspired to write this as a smile came over me because of the great day we had and the amazing things that I see going on in our school.

I truly believe that people come to education for all of the right reasons and they come to work each day with the intention of doing their best.  Everyone has gone to school to become teacher and attended professional development during their time as educators in order to hone their craft. I believe some teachers naturally "get it" and others must work very hard in order to make it look "easy."

So... When I shared Dave Burgess's Teach Like A Pirate last year with staff  and made it a point of emphasis this year by buying books for the teachers, some teachers looked at me like I was a little crazy. Then, when I came the opening staff meeting in full pirate regalia, I heard a few whispers. In fact, some people were adamant that they were not going to become pirates. There was no way that they would dress up and act silly or draw attention to themselves in such a way.  THEY DIDN'T GET IT.  Some still don't get it. It's not about the costume.  It's about developing experiences instead of lessons. It's about finding ways to connect and engage your students so that can't wait to show you what they know or did.  It's about taking risks and reaping the rewards - - Students' love of learning and engagement.

Shhh!!! Don't tell my teachers but they are becoming pirates without the costumes.

When I walk into a classroom and the teacher has a 'mystery bag" on the counter and is using it for engagement; She is a pirate.  When I hear teachers asking the students about their interests and then developing lessons geared toward those interests; They have become pirates.  When I see a teacher taking her students out to the playground to practice spelling words with chalk or do math problems on the blacktop; She is a pirate.  When I see students laying on their backs and drawing upside down under their desks to get Michelangelo's perspective; Their teacher might just be a pirate.  When I walk into a classroom and each student is dressed in a costume and they are doing a newscast with math facts; Their teacher might be a pirate.  When I hear kids on Friday afternoon, on the way to the bus say, "I wish we didn't have to go home." Their teachers are definitely pirates.  When I get letters from students asking if we could make the school day longer; They probably have a pirate teacher.

Shhh! Don't tell the teachers but they are making our school better by taking chances, trying new things, and creating experiences for our students. They don't have to dress like pirates. They don't have to wear costumes.  They just have to answer two questions:  1. If the students didn't have to be there, would you be teaching to an empty room? 2.  Do  you have any lessons  you could sell tickets for?

Well, I'm proud to say that for many of my teachers the answer to these questions is YES!  Shhh!!! Don't tell them but they might be pirates.    

We have a long way to go to get our students where they need to be, but we will get there. Each time
we turn a lesson into a full-blown experience we are changing their lives for the better.

Thanks to Dave Burgess for the inspiration and to all of the #TLAP PLN who make education a better, and much more fun place to be.