How Teach like a Pirate changed my practice as an Educator


It was April of 2014, I was just a month and a half from completing my second year at Christian Life Schools and something happened. I felt burnt out. I had barely been in education for almost four years and I remember sitting in my office. I was fixing a few forgotten gmail passwords and was told on twitter: “You have to do something else with your App Dice, they are getting boring.” I had no other major planned classroom lessons happening until close to May 1st and I had just sent off my clean up for iPads for classrooms and final eRate quotes to be reviewed and I looked at my blog and went: “What can I do?” “What is the point, if I’m not in the classroom.” “I’m just another tech guy with no classroom and nothing better to do.” “I’m not good enough to do anything innovative or new.” Then I had Barbara Gruener point me towards a guy named, Dave Burgess and his book, Teach like a Pirate.

Well, first I decided to follow Dave on twitter and learned of the hashtag #tlap. I was very amazed by so many educators who were using the book and practicing lessons from it. I decided to purchase the book on Amazon and it arrived on Friday that week. I spent the entire weekend reading the book. In no time I was pulling up my technology integration lessons and started adapting them to the various Hooks in the book (yes that rhymes). What was funny was that I stopped at one moment and realized had I had been pulling off the hooks in the last two years at CLS. I had dressed up like I had been in the arctic to a 2nd grade classroom. Used the use of games and art work with my lessons and my wife looked at me and said: “My husband is back.” From there I started slowing joining the rest of the Pirate Crew on twitter and connecting with such Pirate Leaders as Paul Solarz, Michael Matera, Quinn Rollins, Matt Miller and more.

I also started sharing Teach like a Pirate with my fellow teachers and every time I came up with a new idea for a lesson or project for teachers, I was on twitter looking with the #tlap for related ideas or inspiration. My love of using Dave Burgess teachings grew to me buying all the TLAP books as they came out (whether I had the money or not). Flash forward to today and my using of STEAM and STREAM I try to continue to “Build like a Pirate” as I have come to call it and my collection of Teach like a Pirate has grown to Lead like a Pirate and acquiring even math books in the set (yes, I was that kid who didn’t like math… like ever). Today, I try to connect with my fellow pirates both online and in person when ever possible. I am happy to say I have also formed good friendships with the likes of Michael, Quinn, Matt, Don, Rick and more. To think that three years ago almost to the date, I was in a place where I thought things were over and I discovered that is far from the truth.

In fact, even as I do wonder about the days ahead of me (EdTPA, Dissertation, buying a new car). I know that this pirate is ready to continue his journey into the unknown, because as the old saying go: “The Journey is more important than the destination.”

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