Today I am participating in an amazing book study with several of my “edublogger” friends. We each took a chapter of an amazing book called Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess. The chapter I am responsible for is “Finding a Crew.” There were a couple of different things addressed in this chapter, but it was a very important lesson on the importance of finding good people to help you on your journey of professional excellence.
Close your eyes for a moment and imagine this “based on a true story” story. Ok, don’t really close your eyes because then you can’t read, but virtually…. close your eyes. Imagine standing in front of a classroom full of high schoolers….. all staring at you blankly and bored. Imagine it being one of your first days of student teaching. Imagine having your whole lesson, everything you are going to say, every example problem, every. single. part. of. your. lesson for the day written on a piece of loose-leaf paper in your hand. Imagine that the lesson has to do with using calculators. Imagine that your whole degree is in math ed, and you’ve taken all kinds of upper level math classes, and that you yourself are uber proficient with graphing calculators. Imagine that you automatically assume that these students are fairly proficient at graphing calculators and your notes on your loose-leaf paper assume this as well. Imagine that when you tell them to start pushing buttons, that the VAST majority of them don’t even know HOW TO TURN THE DANG THINGS ON! Mass chaos is the closest thing to describe what took place next.
My finely tuned lesson plans, all nicely written on that scrappy little piece of loose-leaf paper, did not account for any deviation. I had a script by golly, and that was all there was to it! Panic set in and my supervising teacher had to step in to save me. The first of many failed lessons. What I did learn though, is that you can’t solely rely on scripted notes. A guide….. yes. A exact script…. no. Good teachers learn quickly that your lessons must always be fluid. Dave Burgess speaks about this in the section “Classroom Kung Fu.” He explains that there is no one-size-fits-all education program. It’s important that teachers take parts of different programs and piece them together to fit their teaching style, as well as the needs of their students.
I’ve read Facebook posts of many teacher friends, overwhelmed at feeling the need to implement ALL of a certain reading program. I, myself, have been a little overwhelmed at the thought of wanting to implement everything about Whole Brain Teaching into my lessons this year. The best piece of advice given to these posts…. “Implement the parts that you feel are the most important.” You don’t have to include all parts of all programs. Not all parts are going to work for you, and that’s ok. This brings to mind the main topic of this chapter of the book Teach Like a Pirate, “Finding a Crew.”
“Finding a Crew” talks about finding those relationships within your profession that are going to enhance your teaching. I personally have found those relationships in an online group of like-minded edu-bloggers. Initially I didn’t think they would be of much help for me professionally because the vast majority of them are elementary teachers and I’m a secondary math teacher. But it’s a perfect fit because they give me a whole new perspective on teaching that I never found with other secondary math teachers.
With easy access to the internet, my teaching has evolved DRASTICALLY! You can Google anything and have hundreds of examples, lesson plans, or activities at your fingertips. With the birth of Pinterest, the availability of thousands of behavior management activities, bulletin board ideas, and other amazing projects is mind blowing. No longer is your only access to professional relationships limited to your school’s teacher’s lounge. There are thousands of teachers living right in your little computer. I encourage you to find and follow other bloggers within your grade and content level. There are a ton of them out there, I promise. If you need help finding any good ones, I can point you to some.
Another place to find amazing resources is by signing up for Dave Burgess’s email list. You can sign up by clicking here. You will receive extra resources, PDFs and videos.
I couldn’t help but think of the pirate them of this book while I recently vacationed in San Diego. Here is a picture of my view at lunch one day. Man, I love and miss that place….
To read more studies of other parts of the book “Teach Like a Pirate” you can go to my friend Terri’s blog at Kinder Kapers