I’d heard a lot about Teach Like a Pirate but I didn’t buy it right away because it felt a little gimmicky to me…I guess I just don’t identify with pirates. All I could hear in my head was Jerry Seinfeld’s “But I don’t want to be a pirate!” But after a strong recommendation from my friend Sandy, (click here to see his blog) who has excellent taste in books, I decided to give it a shot.
I was glad I did! Maybe I don’t identify with pirates, but I identify with Dave Burgess’s feeling of passion for our profession and reasons that he enjoys teaching.
Sandy blogged about how the book led to a great first day of semester/school activity to introduce the one class rule (Don’t be mean – best rule ever!) and to use clay or Play Dough to learn things about the students. (click here for Sandy’s blog “Finding Treasure in My Classroom”). The “Don’t be mean” class rule and first day Play Dough activity were excellent take aways for me, too, but my favorite section of the book is about crafting engaging lessons and hooks. I believe that an element of teaching is acting. A teacher must be able to capture their students’ attention and interest, much like an actor must captivate an audience. My favorite quote is “Inspired enthusiasm is contagious.” I know that when I am particularly psyched about something, my students catch that enthusiasm. I try to use that to my advantage as much as possible. My students from last year are still talking about the crime scene tape that I draped through the hallway and entrance for a CSI: Boston Massacre lesson (don’t tell the Fire Marshall). But Dave Burgess brings hooks and engagement up to a seriously intense level that I can’t wait to experiment with this year. I’m looking forward to trying some of Dave’s ideas from the book like the board message hook (what can you write on the board for students to ponder and create excitement as they come in the door?) and the teaser hook (how can you create positive expectancy about a lesson in advance?).
The overall message of the book is inspirational. The truth is, I crave motivation. Anyone who has been in the classroom for any length of time understands the physical and emotional roller coaster called teaching – the unique combination of monotony, exhaustion, and stress that only teachers know at our lowest lows. This book is great to get out of a teacher funk or to start a new school year with some fresh ideas and inspiration.
Zig Ziglar said, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing. That’s why we recommend it daily.” I recommend this book to veteran teachers looking for a hefty dose of motivation. New teachers would find it useful and inspiring, too. Dave Burgess’s personal stories about life in his classroom were not only entertaining, but full of useful ideas and tips that I will be trying in my own classroom this year. Play dough on the first day of school for sure!