Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A Pirate's Life for Me

I hate to admit this, but I really don't read very many "professional" books. Sure, I read articles, blog posts, and converse with other educators about best practices and research, but an entire book on education...rarely.  For the past several months, I had been seeing posts on Twitter about teaching like a pirate and also noticing #tlap everywhere. I even joined the pirate chat session to see what all the buzz was about. I soon learned that all the excitement was about a book written by a California teacher named Dave Burgess (Twitter @burgessdave). In his book, "Teach Like a Pirate" Dave describes methods for injecting passion, excitement, and energy into what he calls Life Changing Lessons or LCLs.  I got the book for Christmas and couldn't put it down.  His enthusiasm for teaching jumped off the pages of the book and screamed out to me, "share this with your staff!".  I tossed around several ideas for ways to share out this great book and I decided to share through my blog the key points that really hit home to me.  My hope is that some of you will be intrigued enough to pick up the book for yourself and that you will be as energized as I was from reading it and apply some of the techniques into your classrooms and create your own Life Changing Lessons!

The book is divided into three sections, so I thought I would do a three part blog focusing on the highlights from each section. For each part, I will simply post some of the major themes and some quotes that stuck in my mind. Remember, these are just the points that jumped out at me.  You will undoubtedly find your own "Aha's" if you read it for yourself.  Here we go!

Part 1: Teach Like a PIRATE

P=Passion "Bringing your personal passion (interests) to the classroom empowers you to create a more powerful lesson because you are teaching from an area of strength" 

I=Immersion "An instructor who is fully immersed in the moment has a special type of intensity that resonates with great power in the classroom, regardless of the activity."

R=Rapport "Every student in your class in those first few days of the semester is evaluating whether or not your room is an emotionally and psychologically safe environment."

A=Ask&Analyze "For most of us, creative genius is developed through hard work, directed attention, and relentless engagement in the creative process." & "If you haven't failed in the classroom lately, you aren't pushing the envelope far enough."

T=Transform "Students are hit with so much information and stimuli every day that to stand out in their minds, you must be remarkable." 

E=Enthusiasm "I believe excellence as a teacher starts with having passion for what you do in life, and driven home with your enthusiasm." 

The Six Words: Fellow Teacher "It's easy for you. You're creative." Author's Response: "I've worked my butt off to build a class that is outrageously engaging, fun, educationally sound, and dearly loved by students. It wasn't easy when I started, it wasn't easy last week, and it won't be easy next week either. It's not supposed to be easy-it's supposed to be worth it.

This is a taste, a teaser of some of the concepts shared in the first section of the book.  I hope it will spark a discussion, I hope it will peak your curiosity, I hope it will inspire you to read for yourself.  More to come next week!

Image by Mitchell Schade. Quote by John F. Kennedy


"Now and then we had a hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates." - Mark Twain

"Life's pretty good, and why wouldn't it be? I'm a pirate after all." - Johnny Depp

"The average man will bristle if you say his father is dishonest, but he'll brag a little if he discovers that his great-grandfather was a pirate." - Bern Williams


Tuesday, January 13: PBS Committee 8:05 am
                                   3rd & 4th Grades to Detroit Institute of Arts 9:30 am
Wednesday, January 14: IEP 8:15 am (Madaus)
                                        7 Habits training for administrators 12:00 pm
Thursday, January 15: Staff Meeting 8:00 am

Monday, January 19: No School for MLK Day
Tuesday, January 20: ELA Committee 8:15 am
                                   Staff Budget Forum at Board Office 4:30 pm
Wednesday, January 21: 7 Habits training for administrators 12:00 pm,
Friday, January 23: No Students /Teacher Work Day (optional report day)

Monday, January 26: DATA DIVES in the LMC (all day/rotating subs)
Tuesday, January 27: "Magic of Music" Science Assembly all grades 10:00-11:00 am
Thursday, January 29: 7 Habits training for administrators 12:00 pm
Friday, January 30: SOTM Assembly 3:00 pm
                                Report Cards go home
                                Roller Skating Night at Riverside Arena 6:00-8:00 pm


  1. I love this book. It reaffirmed what I have done instinctively and encouraged me to be more. If at all possible, see Dave Burgess present personally - it is amazing.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. They are important.

  2. I read TLAP last spring and it definitely gave me the "spark" of passion that I was looking for at that time. I look forward to reading your reviews and reliving the reading of those pages that spoke to me!

  3. Great post Jon! We too, are also using #tlap in our work this year (and beyond). It seems that Dave has found an audience and we are each embracing his passions and making them impactful in the work we do!
    Great post and thank you for sharing!