Sunday, November 17, 2013

Teach Like a Pirate- A Day with Dave Burgess

St. Mary's College
Sometimes I think that people  who know me get tired of hearing me talk about Twitter. I don't think people always believe me when I say I get TONS of ideas and inspiration from there. But it's true. Now, I've only been on Twitter a little over a year (after I heard Donalyn Miller say I MUST be on it!) and it is definitely my go-to place for book recommendations, to connect with authors, bloggers, teachers, and more. Last fall, it seemed like everyone on Twitter was talking about an amazing book they had just read. I first heard about Dave Burgess (@burgessdave) and Teach Like a Pirate on Twitter, and the hashtag #tlap was everywhere! I downloaded the book on my iPad and started reading. 

I read the whole book in one day. It is that amazing. 

As a reader, I don't really have a preference for "real books" (paper) over digital. It really depends how patient I'm feeling. In this case, I downloaded it because I wanted to read it right away. And I do actually think in this case, my reading experience was enhanced by reading on my iPad. As I was reading, I realized that Mary Bears, one of my high school classmates and former colleagues from Buckeye was mentioned in the book. Amazing! I decided to send a tweet to Dave about my connection and kept reading. He tweeted back. While I was reading, the tweet popped up at the top of my iPad. Amazing! How awesome is it to be able to interact with the author while you're reading? That had never happened to me before. I was so inspired by Dave's book that it gave me an idea for my next writing training: Write Like a Pirate. He even sent me a shirt and I wore it that day. Now I have NEVER led a training in a t-shirt. Ever. But I had to share the pirate spirit with those teachers-- about the book, about Dave, and about Twitter. 

So late this summer, I heard Dave Burgess was coming to St. Mary's College in Moraga. This past weekend, I finally got to meet Dave in person. Wow. And even though I already own his digital book, I bought one so he could sign it. I knew he would be amazing in person, and I wasn't disappointed. 

A card trick with Hope.

This really is about content!

Are you curious yet?

Usually, when I attend professional learning I take notes, and this was no exception. However, rereading them today, I noticed that they're pretty brief. I think it's because I wanted to remember what he said, and how it made me feel. But I also didn't want to miss anything. So, my notes read more like a list. I actually made a word cloud of my notes and here's what it looks like:

The biggest words are the words I wrote the the most.
What do you think he was talking about?

Here are my notes from the day. A little pirate booty! I hope you'll read the book!

P is for passion
An engaged student is not a behavior problem.
Real teaching and learning is sometimes messy.
Pirates are risk takers, mavericks sailing into uncharted waters with no guarantee of success.
We did not get into this profession for the content,
You don't have to have an “assignment” to learn.
Every day we have the opportunity to teach an “LCL” , a life changing lesson
If we could put someone on the moon in 1969, what can't we do?....
It's not about raising test scores, it's about raising human potential.
Incorporate your outside passion into the classroom. This is how you can be a fulfilled educator.
Put handles on material to make content easier for kids to pick up.
We forget stuff that was told to us 10 seconds before because we didn't engage in it. (Have you ever forgotten someone’s name almost immediately after someone told it to you?)  And we expect kids to remember information for a test that may come weeks later.
Work becomes a place of play when you combine your passions with it.
I is for immersion
When you are teaching, it's your whole world
Are you a swimmer  or a lifeguard?
Immerse, be magnetic, don't just supervise.
R is for rapport
Rapport and relationships ... Must build on the front end.
Tie your content to their interests rather than trying to get them interested in your content.
Play dough idea for day #1.
Good morning. However I say it you say it.
How will you open your show?
First impressions matter.
Creativity matters.
We need to know their names.
We want our toughest kids to say hey, this might be different. I can do this.

A is for ask and analyze
Ask the question first. No magic wand will fix lessons.
Pimp your lesson. Make kids want to get in your ride.
Six words. "It's easy for you. You're creative."
It's not supposed to be easy. It's supposed to be worth it.
It takes hard work. It takes failure. You can't be great in the classroom unless you are willing to fail.
Ask the question. Why didn't it work?
Write down your ideas.
Are you creating a threadbare cloth of boredom or patchwork quilt of engagement.
Call and response. 100% engagement
3-2-1 when I say one... Turn the propane on!
T is for transformation
Two questions:
  1. If your students didn't have to be there would you be teaching to an empty room? Or would your students come anyways?
  2. Do you have any lessons you could sell tickets for?
Set that bar for yourself. Be amazing. Reframe your student’s opinion about learning. Make them want to be part of learning for their whole life. Like finding treasure.
Do anything. Do you want to make school amazing?
Be Fact Woman. With a shield. Cape. “Is that your opinion?” shield.
The red scare. Ten man.
Bus. Speakeasy . Bar. Drinks. Police corruption. Create an experience.
E is for enthusiasm.
Bring it. Every time.

Monday, November 11, 2013

I have failed as a reader

I finally know how students feel. How I made them feel. Like failures. I have failed as a reader. How do I know?

Just look at my reading log. No, I don’t have a paper reading log, and my mom doesn’t need to sign anything. But I did create a reading goal this year on Goodreads. An ambitious one, actually-- I set out to read 365 books this year. Basically, a book each day. I knew it would be a stretch for me, and I was excited to have set a public reading goal.  Of course, I would count picture books. I read at least one of these each day to the 52 cute and busy kindergartners I supervise at lunch. Last year, I read several books a day to my first graders in my classroom. I belong to a book club and I also love to read professional books. I set the goal in January and was actually doing pretty well! And then, some time around May I got a new job and my life got crazy busy planning and preparing for this school year - my first year as a principal in an elementary school.

Crazy busy? Yep. Too busy to read? No way! I did have to change what I was reading when I found myself too tired to read books that required deep thinking or concentration, or books that took place in geographical settings with which I was unfamiliar. I started reading more Young Adult and Kid Lit books that were recommended by my reading community on Twitter. I was still reading, and the books were shorter. You would think this would help my reading goal. But take a look at my Goodreads challenge tracker. This is a screenshot from yesterday.

According to Goodreads, I’ve read 84 books-- 23% of my goal, significantly less than what I set out to read. According to Goodreads, I am 63% behind. There is no way I’m going to meet my goal. There is a little over a month left in 2013 and I just don’t think I’m going to read 281 books in that time. I have failed as a reader- just check my reading log.

Did I really fail? I don’t know. I know I read a lot of books this year. I would even say I read most every day. On any given day, if you asked me what I was reading, I could tell you, and I’d probably even tell you what I wanted to read next. I love reading! It’s true, my summer reading included some of my favorite reading-- Sunset Magazine, Sierra Heritage, and even Oprah’s magazine. I read every book club book except one-- The Penguin Guide to the Constitution-- because I just didn’t want to. What I didn’t do is record my reading on my log. The only log I have- my Goodreads log. I read a ton. So why do I feel like a failure?

Truthfully, I hadn’t really even looked at it too much until yesterday. But when I realized that it was November, I felt a sense of panic. I knew I had read a lot of books. Right away, I started logging books on to Goodreads that I knew I had read. I looked at the pile of books on my nightstand, and I even looked up my Amazon orders-- 44 in 2013! That doesn’t count the books I borrowed from friends, or the books I purchased excitedly at Powell’s or other used bookstores I visited this year. After logging about 10 books, I stopped.  What was I thinking? What was I doing?

I was doing the same thing students do every week in schools. Some don’t read much, I know, but many, just like me, read every day. And they forget to log it. These are the same kids that we complain have all of their books entered in the same color ink on their reading log they return each Friday because we know their parent filled it out in the school drop off line that morning.  Just like I was trying to do yesterday when I realized that I hadn’t logged enough books, all of the wonderful books I read this past year.

I’ve decided that next year, I will still be setting a reading goal, and I may even use Goodreads to track it. Or maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll blog about it. Maybe I’ll put pictures of the covers on my book door at school. Maybe I’ll just write the titles in one of my notebooks. Maybe I’ll talk to my friends about what I’ve read, or even recommend books to students. Maybe I’ll do all of it. But no matter what, I won’t feel bad about it if I don’t get one book written or logged anywhere. I’ll still be a reader and a book lover. No matter what my reading log says.