Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Teach Like a Pirate: Enthusiasm

Children want to enjoy being in our class. They want to engage with our content and with each other. We have to make sure that we encourage this desire rather than smother it. Our own enthusiasm is key in maintaining student enthusiasm!

The Commitment to being "ON".

Dave Burgess is not afraid to admit that he too has weaknesses in the classroom. It is difficult to examine our own shortcomings and I appreciate that Dave puts his out there for us to see. It is reassuring to see some of my own weaknesses reflected in his list. We ALL have things we can work on, right!

His point is that, despite having areas that could use a little polish, we all have the ability to transform our classrooms by stepping up our ENTHUSIASM level and keeping it that level all day long, for each and every class. Burgess says, "I refuse to cheat a student by delivering  a subpar performance." We have to "bring it" every time.

Dave's 2 ways to LIGHT your fire:
  1. "Act as if": Burgess points out that the phrase "fake it till you make it" is absolutely the way to go when it comes to enthusiasm. Lucky for us, you can pretend to be enthusiastic even if you aren't. The great thing about pretending to feel enthusiasm is that eventually your body believes that you really are enthusiastic and you no longer have to "act as if".
  2. Shift your focus: This is another way of saying to look on the bright side.  You have to find the frame of mind needed to have a successful day and then FOCUS on obtaining it. Burgess suggests that "This job is tough enough without having to fight through self-imposed negativity".

What are some of the things that help you find your right frame of mind?

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Teach Like a Pirate: Transformation

I think we have all been in that class or that PD session.  
The one that bored you to tears and no matter how hard you tried to stay on task, the instructor just couldn't keep your attention. This is a difficult situation for adults. I can't imagine being a child and feeling stuck in a BORING class with no escape.

Two Teaching Taylors blog post. Book study with reflections on Teach like a Pirate. This student is wishing that the teacher would transform their lessons to be more captivating.

So how do we avoid being that teacher? How do we have a class that kids get excited about and talk animatedly about when it is over? According to Dave it is really just about asking yourself the right questions (as discussed previously in Ask and Analyze) and then setting a firm goal for yourself. He points out that we feel disappointed in ourselves when we don't follow through with goals that we have set. I would add that you should set a goal and then share it with a trusted and supportive colleague as we are far more motivated to stick to goals that we have made public.  I think we need someone to check in with, discuss progress with and even vent with when we have a slip up.  We need someone to go on the journey with us.

The ultimate goal is to have a class that students can't wait to come to. We want our students to go home and have TONS to say when their parents ask what they did at school that day.

We want kids to experience a sense of WONDER as we spin our web of learning around them.
Two Teaching Taylors blog post. Book study over Teach like a Pirate.  Students should feel a sense of WONDER when they learn in the classroom.

Teach like a Pirate poses two questions for us to consider about our own classrooms.

1. If students were not required to attend your class, would they still show up?
2. Are any of your lessons worthy of selling tickets too?

I don't know how to answer this.  Of course, I want to believe that students would still come to my class but the reality is that I'm not sure. Can my class compete with visiting freely with friends or going to the snow cone hut? That is something to think about and work towards next year.  As far as selling tickets to my lessons, I think I have a few.  In particular, my lesson on states of matter and changing states is a winner.  

Two Teaching Taylors activity lesson over phase changes in solids, liquids and gases. 
Another lesson that my students really get excited about gets them outside learning about why the sun appears to move across the sky. My goal for next school year is to have at least ONE lesson each week that is ticket worthy. When I meet that goal I can move to two lessons each week.

What are some of your goals for making ticket worthy lessons?

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