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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Teach Like a Pirate- Immersion and Rapport

Welcome to Tasty Text Tuesday where we are looking at the book Teach Like a Pirate!

A few reminders:

1. For my CHES people, this book study is voluntary (and fun!). You are in no way required to read this book, but if you participate you may count this on your PD form for next year. 

2. There will be discussion questions during the study. Your answers and comments will be the accountability piece of the PD. All you have to do is leave a comment at the end of the post with your addition to the discussion. 

3. To quote my Momma, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." Let's not get snarky. (That goes for me as well. I'll keep my sarcasm to a bare minimum. Lord, help me.)

4. Have fun! This book is all about how to become a better, more energetic, more joyful educator. Some parts may resonate more with you than others and that's OK. Take what pieces of information work for you and use them. The rest, you can toss overboard. 

The first chapter was all about your Passion for teaching. In this post we are looking at Immersion and Rapport

 Ladies- have you ever had a bad day at work and gone home to your significant other, or lovable pet, and you can tell you don't have their full attention? You need to vent your spleen about the up-and-coming test, or the new standards, and no one will give you the attention you deserve?

Gents- have you ever gone home and needed to go over the household budget, but your significant other won't look up from her romance novel long enough to hear that she has, once again, gone over budget? (That one was just for my Honey Bear- I AM really listening, Dear!)

If either of these sound familiar, and they really get on your nerves, then you understand the importance of immersion in daily life. 

"A lack of immersion in the present sends a clear message that this moment is somehow less important and not significant enough to be worth undivided attention." (Burgess p.14)

If the scenarios above hit home with you, then imagine you are in front of your class- texting someone really quick, taking a phone call that has nothing to do with school (unless it's an emergency call from your daycare- those are understandable), or talking to a fellow teacher when a student really needs your attention. Trust me when I say, your students know when they don't have your undivided attention.

Burgess gives this illustration using lifeguards: Focus vs. Immersion (p.14-15)

A lifeguard who is told to be focused on the water might do these things:

1. Be one the side of the water
2. Watch the occupants of the pool/ water hole
3. Be mindful of what is going on around the pool and call warnings accordingly

Now the same lifeguard is told to be immersed in the water. What would that look like?

1. You're gonna get wet!
2. You're interacting with the swimmers.
3. You are close and available in case of danger or problems in the water.

Being a teacher means being more than just focused on your students. An effective teacher is immersed in his/her students' learning; this is especially important when delivering the first lesson on a new concept.

"I'm suggesting that when delivering first instruction, especially to struggling learners, you need to leave the comfort of the lounge chair or lifeguard tower and jump into the water with your students. " (Burgess p.15)

By being immersed in your classroom, you will find more of those "teachable moments" that we educators love so much. And because you're so in touch with your students, you'll be able to surrender your structured lesson without feeling guilt!

"It's OK to surrender your structure in the pursuit of something far more valuable in the moment." (Burgess p. 18)

** Discussion Question: Are you a lifeguard (more focus) or a swimmer (total immersion)? 
What are 2 things you can do in your classroom to make the swap from focus to immersion?**

This chapter hits the topic that can make or break educators from year to year. I'd like to say that this is just a "newbie" teacher problem, but I'm coming up on my 9th year teaching that this topic is the biggest one every year. Classroom. Management.

"We don't want to develop techniques to win behavior management battles, we want to develop techniques that allow us to avoid battles altogether." (Burgess p.19)

Teachers wouldn't be able to survive without a behavior management plan of some kind. They differ from room to room, but at CHES teachers follow the same "color chart" system, have the same referral process, use Cub Cash for incentives, etc. We also function under the SWPBS (School Wide Positive Behavior Support) plan. All good things. 

However, Burgess suggests that most (definitely not all) problems can be headed off at the pass, simply by doing one thing: Talking with your students. Notice I said with your students, not at your students.

" Misbehavior usually indicates boredom, overwhelm, or lack of connection to the material being covered." (Burgess p. 20)

"Spend less time trying to get students interested in what you are presenting and more time making connections between what you are presenting and what they are already interested in." (Burgess p.20)

Take time to talk with your students:
1. Before class
2. In the hallway
3. Between classes
4. At lunch
5. At recess
6. During dismissal
7. Any time you see a student!

I can't speak for any other school, but at my school compliments are like gold. Let me give you an example:
I wear a lanyard with my room keys, id tag, and USB drive around my neck everyday. You can hear me coming. 

Because of the click, click of my lanyard, I tend to see lots of well behaved classes in the hallway. Why are students so excited to see me? Because I am the Compliment Queen! (self appointed, of course)
If the students are well behaved, I'm likely to pause and admire their wonderful behavior and let their teacher know that they deserve Cub Cash. From the smallest Kindergarteners, to the biggest 5th graders, most students equate my lanyard with good behavior and a possible payoff.

My lanyard is also a great way to start building rapport with the students in the school. I teach 3rd grade, but I'm already teaching kindergarten students what my expectations are in the hallway and other places in the school. Students share with me how they are behaving in their classrooms and will talk to me about any possible problems they had. I have had numerous conversations with students (students I don't know at all) just because they recognize me as the teacher who will stop and compliment them in the hallway. 

It's a small thing really, but it's nice to know that students look  forward to seeing me. :)

"Building rapport is all about interacting with your students as fellow human beings, not just as subordinates." (Burgess p.21)

Burgess suggests that building good rapport with his student also encourages student buy-in to the class. Burgess works hard at building rapport with his students so he can then become "that teacher". You know who I mean. The one you like as a co-worker, but secretly think is a little insane? The one with the classroom that's always just a little too loud? The one that gets the scores, though you don't know how since all he does is play?

In other words, my hero.

"I actively encourage teachers to develop a classroom climate where students feel like doing the outrageous; where  the out of the ordinary and sometimes silly are the norm." (Burgess p.21)

"Put a premium on making your class fun and entertaining from the start." (Burgess p.22)

Burgess uses this chapter to walk us through his first 3 days of school. This is a highly entertaining read, and if you haven't read this chapter yet, well, what are you waiting for? I will quickly go over them here.

Day 1: Anticipation
  • Use music to create a break
  • Welcome to "My World"- get ready for the ride!
  • **Create a unique experience **
  • Only one rule "This is a NO MEANNESS ZONE"
  • Introduce the class to the class- names are important!
 Look back at the 3rd point- creating a unique experience. I want to give a huge SHOUT OUT to the 2nd grade team here at CHES. This past year they have begun each and every one of their Common Core units with a dress up day to introduce their unit. Some units they dressed up more than once! Their students loved it, and my 3rd graders  were jealous. Here are some pics of our fabulous 2nd grade team!

Day 2- Survivor
You really need to read this for yourself. Burgess begins the day by doing a pantomime of a plane crash. The survivors are on an island and a plane comes to rescue them. Unfortunately there isn't space for everyone and the pilot doesn't think he could find the remote island again. So, who gets rescued?
  • Students are in groups. Each group has its own set of survivor cards. (around 10 cards, I think)
  • Groups discuss who stays and who gets to be rescued
  • Teacher is immersed in the discussions and documents the teams' discussions and reasons
What a team building activity! Each student gets to share, and no one feels slighted or is made to feel unimportant. This would be so fascinating to do! I would be interested to see how the decisions were made form group to group.

Day 3- The Sales Pitch

You, yes you! can succeed in my class! Simply follow these easy steps!
You've had students in your class before who walk into your room already expecting to fail. Maybe they had a bad experience in the past and no longer feel they have anything to offer.
Well, it's time for you to turn yourself into Tour guide Barbie, a cheerleader, and a used car salesman, all in one!

"I will pull out all the stops to convince them (the students) it doesn't matter if they have failed before because my class is absolutely and completely different."
"I explain how the brain works and how a positive learning environment is critical for higher-order thinking to take place." ( Burgess p.31)

Burgess doesn't try to reassure students that they won't fail, he tells them that they can't fail! Students leave knowing that his class is different. All of his lessons and activities are brain research based. They have already experienced his craziness, so they know it won' be boring. With crazy, interesting, brain based lessons, how can they fail?!

"I'm selling education... a life-altering product that can transform the human spirit and literally change the world one student at a time." (Burgess p.32)

Create a 15-30 second commercial selling your class. What can students expect out of your lessons this coming year? If students had a choice, why would they want to choose your class?
Post your commercial to Youtube and cut and paste the link in the comments section. 
If you don't want your video to be public, you can choose to have it unlisted. Then only people who read the comments can view it!
CHES Teachers- each person from our school who creates a video will get a special prize from me!
Other teachers who have joined the fun-  When you post your video, please include your email address and I will send you your choice of one of my Teachers Pay Teacher's items! (you can check out my TPT store on the side of my blog)
Here's an infomercial I made 2 years ago about a product called Miracle Money Grow
It goes to show, you don't have to be eloquent, just have fun!

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