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TEACH LIKE A PIRATE

BY DAVID BURGESS
SARA HEUSER
PASSION
IMMERSION
RAPPORT
ASK AND ANALYZE
TRANSFORMATION
ENTHUSIASM
BURGESS CLAIMS THAT STUDENTS ARE NOT MOTIVATED BY
MEDIOCRITY OR MONOTONY.
HE ADVISES, LIGHT YOURSELF ON FIRE WITH ENTHUSIASM AND
PEOPLE WILL COME FROM MILES AROUND JUST TO WATCH YOU
BURN!
BURGESS ADMITS, THERE ARE MOMENTS WHEN EVERY TEACHER
DOES NOT FEEL PASSION FOR HIS OR HER SUBJECT, BUT HE URGES
TEACHERS INSTEAD TO FIND THE PLACES WHERE THEIR CONTENT,
PROFESSIONAL, AND PERSONAL PASSION MERGE IN ORDER TO TAP
INTO THAT ENERGY EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR.

PASSION:
Burgess illustrates the power of immersion in
teaching by highlighting the distinction
IMM
between a lifeguard and a swim instructor. The
lifeguard sits in an elevated seat and observes
ERS
the pool, making sure no one is drowning. ION:
Conversely, the swim instructor, at least if he or
she is a good one, jumps in the pool alongside
the learner, plunging into the action.
As Burgess explains, An instructor who is fully
immersed in the moment has a special type
of intensity that resonates with great power in
the classroom, regardless of the activity.
Burgess encourages teachers first to learn who their students are,
to discuss group dynamics, and to teach learning styles.

Intent on creating the right atmosphere from the start, on day one
he doesnt lecture students on class rules for using the restroom or
sharpening ones pencil. Instead, he gives the students each a can
of Play-Doh and asks them to mold shapes that tell stories about
RAPPORT:
themselves.

On day two, he engages them in a group exercise to determine


who among a list of characters should receive a spot on a life raft
after surviving a plane crash. Who the students choose is
irrelevant. The process of learning how to listen, how to
collaborate, and how to reach a consensus is the focus of the
lesson.

On day three, he teaches the students about learning styles and


brain research, helping them explore the silent question he knows
many of them are thinking: How can I be successful in this class.
The quality of your questions determines the quality of
your answers, and the type of questions determines the
type of ideas your brain will receive and conceive

He encourages teachers to understand that the creative


process depends on fostering inquiry both in themselves
and in their students.
TRANSFORM:
Burgess acknowledges Too often school is a place where creativity is
systematically killed, individuality is stamped out, and boredom reigns supreme.
He advises teachers that they can blame the students for their apathy or create an
environment that challenges that statement.
He believes teachers should ask themselves two questions: 1) If your students
didnt have to be there, would you be teaching in an empty room? 2) Do you have
any lessons you could sell tickets for?
As Burgess frankly states, If you cant explain why someone should pay attention
to what youre saying, maybe you shouldnt be saying it
ENTHUSIASM:
Burgess states, If you apply nothing else from this book, but you
consistently ramp up your enthusiasm level in the classroom, you
will be far ahead of the game and a dramatically better teacher.
Teachers must perform
and capture their audiences
attention.
PART TWO: BURGESS OFFERS SUGGESTIONS ON HOW TO CREATE ENGAGING
LESSONS.

Burgess argues, teachers focus on content and technique but miss the critical element that
brings both alive presentation. Offering the analogy of a chef expecting his guests to
enjoy plates heaped with colorless, flavorless food, Burgess underscores an important point,
It doesnt matter how much material you teach, it only matters how much is received.
Burgess presents a series of presentational hooks that any good pirate should keep under
his sash.
Describing the power of the kinesthetic hook, he explains how his students roped cattle
(or a stool in this case) on a cattle drive, flown paper airplanes during the Berlin Airlift lesson,
boarded a Montgomery bus, played intense games of Trench Warfare on the floor behind
desks, and fit into a box like Henry Box Brown did to mail himself to freedom.
THE KINESTHETIC HOOK: Can I incorporate movement in this lesson?
THE PEOPLE PROP HOOK: How can I use students as props, inanimate objects
CRAFTING ENGAGING LESSONS:
or concepts?
THE SAFARI HOOK: How can I get this class outside these four walls for the
day?
THE MOZART HOOK: How can I use music to aid my presentation?
THE PICASSO HOOK: How can I incorporate art into this lesson?
THE DANCE AND DRAMA HOOK: Can I provide opportunities for students to
do a skit?
THE REAL WORLD APPLICATION HOOK: How can I show my students that this
content is important to the real world?
THE COSTUME HOOK: What can I wear as a costume or outfit for this lesson?
THE MYSTERY BAG HOOK: Can I have a closed bag or box in the front of the
class?
Explaining that the word decide literally
means to cut off, he encourages teachers PART THREE:
to cut off all other options and commit to TEACHING WITH PURPOSE

greatness.
He catalogues what might be holding a
teacher back, what options need excising:
fear of failure, believing you have to
figure it all out before you begin,
perfectionism, lack of focus, fear of
criticism or ridicule.
Burgess reassures teachers that the
potential rewards of teaching like a pirate
should outweigh any fears.