Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Reflecting On My Year As A Pirate

School ended for us yesterday and I really miss the kids already. Especially, after sitting in meetings all day. It has been one whole year since I became a PIRATE. Here is my original blog about Being a Pirate Principal . It has been one whole year since my life as an elementary principal changed. Nothing will ever be the same again for me, my staff and my students....or for my employers.  I'm sure they already know. I'm not sure everyone is happy about it.

After reading Teach Like A Pirate and Seeing Dave Burgess present last Spring, I became a pirate because I saw the need to really show my passion and enthusiasm. I saw the need to find a new and better way to reach our students. I saw the need to spice up my own professional life in order to make it more rewarding.  I saw the need to help my teachers create Life Changing Lessons and make my school a place where students, parents, and staff were running to get into.
The only way to do this was to find ways to really connect with the kids and to give them things to talk about on a daily basis.

This year started with our first staff meeting and me surprising everyone as they entered the room as I was dressed as a pirate. Each staff member got the TLAP book and then we talked about what it looked like to Teach Like A Pirate.  We did our 5 word GPS.  We even discussed different ways to engage students in the classroom with activities like Genius Hour or Project Based Learning. We even scheduled three Teach Like A Pirate Days where the staff and students would have the opportunity to show their passions.

Not everyone was as excited as I was to become a Pirate. Some were skeptical. Some were intrigued. Some just thought I was crazy.  You should have seen the student teachers when they walked in and saw me dressed as a pirate.  I don't think they expected that from any principal.  My staff could see this was something I was passionate about and they hung in there. They know that I am a little crazy but also they saw students' reactions to me.

Our first TLAP day in September was a ringing success. Student comments were things such as, "This was the best day ever," or, "I can't believe it's over. Do we have to go home?"  It was amazing. You can read about it here We did it and it was awesome .
We had two more TLAP days where amazing things kept happening.

More importantly, the staff began to see that getting into that "Un-comfort Zone" as @bethhouf talks about in her blog can be fun and it definitely engages and inspires the students.  The final straw for the staff came when our district had Dave Burgess here for a full day to promote teaching like a pirate to everyone.  Now the teachers got to see the captain in his energized state present about the importance of engaging students and changing school lives forever.

They got it!  If they didn't get it before, after seeing Dave they really got it. I started seeing teachers really take chances with their teaching for the good of the students. I saw "Hooks" everywhere. I saw, people striving for greatness. I saw plenty of mistakes along the way but all in the name of progress. Most of all, I saw more engaging lessons and experiences for our students. I saw effort and risk-taking from our staff like never before. I saw Teaching Like A Pirate.

It's hard to Teach Like A Pirate every day but that is our goal. I try to Lead Like A Pirate every day. Some days, I do better than others but I can tell you one thing:

WE WILL NEVER GO BACK TO THE OLD WAY. WE WILL BE INNOVATIVE, CREATIVE, ENTHUSIASTIC, PASSIONATE AND POSITIVE!

 School will be fun and engaging. The students will ask over and over again to stay longer and work more..I will lead the way.