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.


  1. We are soooo lucky to have your "lead like a pirate" philosophy as part of ours staff. I know that you often say we inspire you, but I guess inspiration is contagious because you inspire me as well. Thanks for sharing your reflections on the day. I only wish I could've joined you!

  2. Thanks, Joe! You would have loved it but those Rhinos needed you :) I hope that everyone has a little inspiration as part of every day. It just goes to show how much we all need each other!

  3. Wow! I want to read this book! Thanks for sharing it!!