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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Teach Like a Pirate- Introduction and Passion

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

Welcome to the first installment of our Tasty Text Tuesday book study! We are working our way through the book Teach Like a Pirate.

Some 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. (I will use the questions that are included in the book.) 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.

Why a pirate?

To quote the book, "Pirates are daring, adventurous, and willing to set forth into uncharted territories with no guarantee of success. They reject the status quo and refuse to conform to any society that stifles their creativity and independence. .....Pirates don't much care about public perception; they proudly fly their flags in defiance." (Burgess p.xii- emphasis mine)

With changes in curriculum and best practices every other year, we as educators get bogged down with the "next best thing" and how to properly implement the latest and greatest standard of education. To quote one great mind, a mind that works directly with the faculty of my school, "We are building the plane while it's in the air." Amen to that. 

Now let's put that into a pirate's perspective-With the entire country now in the same boat, we shall call it the CCSS Discovery, we need some brave educators to chart these dangerous waters.

"...our students need leaders who are willing to venture forward without a clear map to explore new frontiers. We need mavericks and renegades who are willing to use unorthodox tactics to spark and kindle the flame of creativity and imagination in the minds of the young. .... entrepreneurial innovators who are capable of captaining the educational ship through waters that are rough and constantly changing." (Burgess p. xii- emphasis mine)

Looking at the quote above, you can see that teaching isn't for the faint of heart. If you're ready to become the educator you've always dreamed of being, join the crew of the CCSS Discovery with me! We'll start with Passion.
According to Burgess, there are 3 types of Passion: Content, Professional, and Personal. However, before going into detail about these categories, Burgess decided to share with the world at large every educator's dirty little secret.

Here it is: Educators aren't passionate about everything we teach.
Can you believe that?! He said it! Out loud! (Well, in writing, but you heard the voice in your head)

But it's true. I don't find myself doing the happy dance because today is the day we talk about the importance of the semicolon. I don't break out in song when we talk about the rules of multiplication. (OK, that's a lie. Roach and I totally made chants for those last year.)

The point Burgess is making is that your Passion in these 3 areas can and will help you when you run across the not-so-fun topics in your curriculum.

Content Passion
** Discussion Question- Within your subject matter, what are you passionate about teaching?**

Come on, you know you have a favorite. The lesson you look forward to all year. The lesson that has a soap- box of your own making that goes with it.
For me, that topic is American Government; in particular the 3 Branches of Gov, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.
I have taught 3 different grade levels now and have made it a point to teach this lesson, in some form, to each grade level. Yes, even my 1st graders had to endure this unit of study. I don't even think it's in their curriculum. I just couldn't help myself.

It's just too fun!
On the flip side, the topic I couldn't stand this past year was teaching double negatives. It was one language arts topic that I hope to never have to revisit.
So, what do you do when you are faced with teaching a topic that is less than thrilling for you? You move on to Professional and Personal Passion to get you through.

Professional Passion
** Discussion Question- What is it about being an educator that drives you? What ignites the fire in you?**
My answer is in two parts-
Outside the classroom, I love sitting with other professionals and sharing combat stories. I'm the freak who LOVES professional development days. I love PD because it's a meeting of great minds. Thoughts are shared and new worlds are opened because we have a group of well trained and educated professionals who are willing to share their life/ teaching experiences. And chocolate. Any good PD worth its salt has chocolate.
 In the classroom, I enjoy the performance. I enjoy turning lessons into presentations.
My students have commented that nearly all of my lessons include a song/ chant/ or rhyme. While they may roll their eyes or heave a resigned sigh when I break into song, they will be the first to admit that my songs help them later during assessments.
My Professional Passion is when learning goes past "learning" and enters into experiencing, relating, making connections, and expanding boundaries.
I want my students, from the most outgoing extroverts to my shyest introverts, to know that my classroom is a safe haven for expression and learning, where no ship mate is left behind!

"Here is the key: On all of those days when you don't have passion for your content, you must consciously make the decision to focus on your professional passion." (Burgess p.6)

"I can absolutely be inspired  and fully engaged in my attempt to present the topic in an entertaining way. I can be passionate about providing an opportunity for my students to develop and exercise their creative talents and abilities." (Burgess p.8)

Personal Passion
**Discussion Question- Completely outside your profession, what are you passionate about?**

" To keep your passion for teaching alive, find as many ways as possible to incorporate your personal passion into your work." (Burgess p.9)

"Bringing your personal passion to the classroom empowers you to create a more powerful lesson because you are teaching form an area of strength." (Burgess p.9)

My personal passion/ addiction is reading. 
I read. 
I am a reader. 
I carry my Kindle with me at all times, even when going to the grocery store. When I was a kid I lived for D.E.A.R time (Drop Everything and Read). My mom would bribe me with the next book in a series to get me to do chores around the house. I will stay up late to finish just one more chapter

Imagine my happiness when the book encouraged me to share my passion with the class! I can't wait to use Percy Jackson next year when we get to teaching mythology!

The problem I ran into last year was realizing that not everyone shares my passion for the written word. To be perfectly honest, getting my students to willingly pick up a book, let alone finish one, was like pulling teeth; painful to witness and experience. My students loves read-alouds and story time. They just weren't down with private reading time. 
Never fear. This pirate captain isn't giving up easily! I'm feeling some readers theater and performance based reading coming next year! Cause, let's be honest, another one of my passions is performance.

" Passion is like an intoxicating drug but without the dangers and side effects. Use it as much as you want. Once you get a taste of it, you'll always want to come back for more." 
(Burgess p.10- emphasis mine)

" Resist any movement that attempts to clone teachers and lessons and instead rejoice in the fact that it is your individuality and uniqueness that will always lead you to become the most effective teacher that you can be.
Light yourself on fire with passion... and don't worry if it's not a controlled burn." 
(Burgess p.12- emphasis mine)

Thanks for joining in! 
Don't forget to answer the questions in the comments section at the bottom of the post!

Look for what's next:


For a copy of the PIRATE posters, you can find them HERE.

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