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pirate

This seems to be the summer of reading… wait, aren’t all summers summers of reading? No, hold on, reading is always good, summer or not.  Well anyway, enough of that. Recently, I finished a great book by Dave Burgess, Teach Like a PIRATE. Let me tell you, it was a treat.

Now, let’s start out with the nitty gritty. Yes, the word PIRATE is all in caps. That is intentional. Work with me here and we will get to that.

Burgess does a masterful job of laying out what, to be honest, teachers should be. What we should be doing, and how we do these things pale in comparison to Burgess and his technique. I always fancied myself one of those teachers where kids loved my class, my room is far from dull, florescent lights are banned, posters cover the walls, Christmas lights hang from the ceiling year round, however, Burgess puts me to shame. I can’t fathom getting to work with someone so enthusiastic about his students and his teaching.

Now, this book is not an EdTech book in the least. In fact, Burgess rarely makes mention of doing too much with EdTech. However, don’t let that fool you. The techniques in this book can be magnified by using tech. Read the book with the idea festering in the back of your mind, “How can I implement this with my tech” and you will be amazed at what you come up with.

Don’t think this book is one where Burgess just spouts off about how great he is. We have all read those. No one really wants to read a book in which the author has the “greater than you” attitude. Burgess is quite the opposite, a refreshing change on the landscape of books about education. Burgess makes it clear, he is a work in progress. Sure, he has figured out some things that work, as we all have, but he won’t rest until he figures it all out, and gets every kid. That, my friends, is why I love this book.

On to the whole PIRATE thing. Each letter, as you may have guessed, stands for a certain attribute in teaching. P stands for passion. Burgess does a masterful job of explaining how to have passion about your teaching. Even those topics you aren’t so passionate about, he explains how to be passionate about some element of the process. There are different types of passion, and he does a great job teaching you to channel those into your classroom.

The E at the end stands for Enthusiasm. As I said, I always felt I was an enthusiastic teacher. I climb desks, I teach from a stage, my students do the same… however, compared to Dave, I have some work to do. He makes a point of explaining that enthusiasm is contagious. Get pumped up, and your kids will get pumped up as well. Teachers will get pumped. Even the most stubborn old goat (my words, not Dave’s) in the building won’t be able to help but get pumped.

You may note, I left out the middle letters. Any guesses as to why? Yep, you guessed it. You need to read this one. Like… now.

The whole second section of the book is giving you ideas to hook your students, ways to build enthusiasm with them, ways to keep them engaged. We all know engaged kids are learning kids, and Dave shows us exactly how to go about doing this.

To be honest, I didn’t expect to like this book. I honestly thought it would be a gimmick. Something where some guy threw a book together, found a gimmick that caught on, and viola, he’s selling PD sessions because he is a burned out teacher. Any of you who have similar thoughts, let me dispel those. Dave Burgess is the real deal. This book is a must read.  If you haven’t already, head over to amazon.com or your favorite book store, and get a copy. You have time before the year starts.

Fifteen or so years ago, when I started teaching, my principal gave me a book. You have probably all read it. It’s a great one. It’s Harry Wong’s The First Days of School. I tell you this for a reason, Teach Like a Pirate, should be read BEFORE A TEACHER PICKS UP A COPY OF WONG’S BOOK! Yes, it is that good, and very much needed in classrooms today. Use Wong’s book in conjunction with how you will certainly find yourself teaching after reading Teach Like a Pirate, and you are bound to have a great year!

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