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Teach Like a Pirate Chapter 3-Rapport

So once again I’m back with the book study of Dave Burgess’ book Teach Like a Pirate!  So…  Aaaargh you ready?

So chapter three is r in pirate- rapport.  I will say, that reading this chapter reaffirmed what I do in my classroom in this area of teaching.  Let me explain.  Burgess starts out talking about how his class is so different and the reasons he doesn’t have behavioral issues that other teachers do- engagement.  His students are engaged in what they are doing in his classroom.  But you can’t get to that stage until your students feel comfortable with you.  That’s where rapport comes in.

You need to find out their interests and use those to create lessons that grab their attention and hold it.  When it comes to rapport, we need to remember that our kiddos are people, just like us.  I think we forget that when we get too buried in what’s happening in our room.  Our kiddos are people.  We need to get to know them as people if we really want to reach them and teach them.

“Kids can tell the difference between teachers who only seem to care about them when they are sitting in the classroom, and those who see past the ‘student’ to the unique person who resides inside.”  (pg. 21)

Now I will say that getting to know my kiddos takes time for me.  I will be working this year to do more activities in the first week of school that gives me more direct information.  But I will say this- I know a lot of teachers who follow the rule of no smiling before Christmas.  Rule with an iron fist until then.  I don’t follow that.  I smile.  I laugh.  If I make a mistake or something goes wrong I say, “Oops!” and we move on.  I work to get to know my students through our small group work and just watching and observing.  While that has worked for me, I realize from this chapter that I need to do more direct investigations.  So I’ll be combing TPT and Pinterest for great ideas.  🙂

Burgess then talks about how he runs his first three days of class.  But before he does, he starts out with this statement:

“No content standard matters to me until I have established the safe, supportive, and positive classroom environment I need to successfully teach my students.”  (pg. 22)

I’m going to say wow.  I wish I could take luxury like that.  This past year, I had to have my kiddos already functioning in math stations of some sort so I could start my beginning of the year math benchmarks on the third day of school!  Yes you read that right.  Now fortunately I had a great class that made that possible.  So it was no big deal.  But I’ve had other groups where that was not going to happen on this universe at all!  But I did get to exercise this thought this past year with a student and I really want to share that with you (I have full permission from the parents to do so).

I had a new student coming to me after we got back from Christmas.  This was at the end of January beginning of February time.  While a new student is no big deal, I’ve had them before, her circumstances were definitely different.  She had only been home schooled.  She had never been to a public school at all.  So the counselor and I thought it best to tell my kiddos ahead of time so that they would not swarm her or anything.  So I did and the kiddos promised to give her space and help her as needed.  Well the new girl came the following week and we got started.  First week was good.  I thought.

She was doing okay and seemed to be meshing well with my class.  Then the weekend came and then Monday.  No new girl.  Okay.  Tuesday.  Absent again.  Then when she did start coming, she was late and it was all they could do to get her to come. It had started.  She panicked.  While I tried hard to be diligent about her needs and remember that she was not used to school, I still, somehow, missed something.  The mom was ready to pull her out as my poor kiddo was getting sick every morning and just would not come at all.  The parents wanted to stay the course but worried if it was the right thing.  I promptly got on the phone with them asked what they ultimately wanted for her.  They said to go to school.  I said then let’s find a way to make that happen.  I told them my only priority for their child for the rest of this year was to get her at school every day, all day.  Academics would come second.

So I sent them to the principal to see about reducing her hours.  I got a visual schedule from the counselor for her and we started.  She also could have a security toy in her backpack and I had 2 reliable kiddos be ready to help her as needed.  Well it was a bumpy start and she was constantly coming up and asking me when she was going home (which was at our lunch time) and that she missed her mom or felt sick.  I stayed patient and kept redirecting her to her schedule, her toy, or to get a trash can if she felt bad.  Bottom line, we made her stay for her shortened time.  Now I will say that just as we got this started, I was moving back into my house after our renovations were done (read about why here) and she did not take that real well.  The school ended up calling me so I could talk to her (while on my knees scrubbing my floor) and reassure her I would be back as soon as I took care of my family.  It worked.  She stayed.

After a couple of weeks, she was ready to stay longer.  So we slowly increased her time.  After a month, we had her in all day and no longer being sick.  Yes!  Her grades were just fine (like we already predicted) but I wasn’t concerned about that.  I made sure the counselor knew my plans and she was good with that. By the last day of school, the girl was a pro!  I’m so proud of her and I know she’ll nail second grade.  But bottom line, she would not have gotten there if I had not built up that rapport with her.  Now she calls me her best friend and is nervous about the future.  But I know she’ll be fine.  Besides, her mom has my number if they need me.  😉

What Burgess describes for his first 3 days were his techniques of building rapport with his students and getting them engaged with him.  After that, he was ready to teach.  Just like my special girl, we all need that with our kiddos.  Burgess says it best with this:

“I’m selling education…a life-altering product that can transform the human spirit and literally change the world one student at a time.  Surely, such a product is worthy of any and all efforts, techniques, and methods required to successfully persuade.”  (pg. 32)

I agree Mr. Burgess.  I agree.  So what do you do?  How do you establish rapport with your kiddos?  Have you had a special situation like mine that required a different approach?  Please share!  Oh and check out these other great posts and this chapter (just click the buttons)!

Thinking Out Loud

Happy Teaching!

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Teach Like A Pirate Chapter 2- Immersion

I’m breaking a blogging rule- posting twice in 1 day.  But in my defense, my Five for Friday was supposed to be on Saturday.  So there you go!  Now…Aaaarrgh!

As has become my habit, I’m behind on this here book study.  But I’m thankful in that not only is this an awesome read, it’s an EASY read.  I mean like you can’t help but be engaged in the book.  So it won’t be hard for me to catch up.  Hopefully.  😉  But I’m veering from topic…

So Chapter 2 is called Immersion and it’s the letter i in Pirate.  This chapter talks about being more than just present and teaching from the front of the room.  It’s about being totally consumed and involved in the learning WITH your students.  Nothing else matters.  Just your kiddos, you, and the knowledge you want to give them.  And you know what?  The kiddos know when we’re immersed in our jobs and when we’re not.  Dave puts it best when he says, “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.” (pg. 16)  Need I say more?  This is how you’re going to engage those uninterested and struggling kiddos into at least trying.

Burgess explains how not being immersed is what can cause us to miss those “teachable moments.”  You know what I’m talking about.  Those moments that just happen when we least expect them and they become a powerful lesson for both you and your kiddos.  You just hop on the train and ride it to see what happens.  And usually, magic happens.  It’s a thing that stays with you for a long time.  Burgess says it best here:

“The teachable moment is called that because if you wait it will be gone!  It’s OK to surrender your structure in the pursuit of something far more valuable in the moment.” (pg. 18)

Now a show of hands…How many of us needed that permission?  How many of us needed that reminder as to why we love to teach?  I’ve been getting those reminders a lot lately through the great blogs I follow and read (seriously!) and reading that just reaffirmed that while I need my structures and routines, I also need to be okay with abandoning them on those special occasions where greater learning and enlightenment will occur.  Burgess affirmed this in one of the last sentences of this chapter:

“Having the right structure and using your time in the classroom effectively allows you the flexibility to let ‘the moment’ happen without any sense of guilt.” (pg. 18)

Hello!!!!  Thank you!!  I’ve had it happen before to me and I loved following the path of whatever was going on with my class and so did my kiddos!  They would go home bursting about it and the parents were always amazed at the intensity in how the kiddos responded to it.  So was I!  And thankfully, I was able to use that moment as a motivation for keeping my kiddos in their structure when we needed it.  They became even more comfortable with me, the room, each other, and we became more than just a class.  We became a family.  I hope I am able to immerse myself even more this year and get that feeling back!

So that’s the end of Chapter 2.  I’m going to work on Chapter 3 and so on in the days coming as well as work on the other book study I’m participating in.  Oh and I’ve just got to say this…So after I read and highlight, I go back and take notes on my iPad about what I’ve read to help me really make sure I’ve understood what I read.  Well I find myself copying down quotes like the ones I’ve shared with you because, quite frankly, Burgess says it best and in such a way that you can only use his words.  I could make a book of quotes with a whole chapter just devoted to him!  That’s how I’m being inspired.  What about you?  How immersed are you?  Do you need to work on “swimming” with your kiddos instead of just supervising?  Please share!  And check out these hosting posts to see other thoughts on this chapter.

Happy Teaching!


Teach Like a Pirate- Chapter 1…finally!

Okay so yeah.  Remember when I mentioned that I was doing a couple of book studies hosted at some other blogs?  Well I’m finally getting things in gear and posting about them.  And I’m waaaaaaayyyyyy late.  They’ve already gotten to Chapter 4…yeah…okay.  Better late than never I guess!  So without further ado, here’s my first one:

This book is sooooooo awesome and I highly recommend it!  I’m struggling to keep up only because getting the house back together and a demanding 4-year-old keeps me from reading at normal hours of the day.  I only get time at night.  But it truly is an easy read and before I know it I’m hooked!  I had actually heard of this book from Donna Boucher at Math Coach’s Corner and I remember thinking I should get my hands on this book.  Well when I saw a book study being done for the summer I knew then that I NEEDED to get my hands on this book.  So I did.

Dave Burgess has this book in three parts.  In the first part, the titles of the chapters spell out “pirate”.  But before you start that there was a little introduction and I want to share with you a couple of quotes and why I like them:

“Teaching like a pirate has nothing to do with the dictionary definition and everything to do with the spirit.”

Okay wow.  Spirit.  When I read that I immediately thought about the last example of a pirate that made me really believe it was a pirate and of course I thought of Captain Jack Sparrow!  He is a pirate through and through and soooooo into it to!  So I knew then that I needed to give my spirit a restart and get soooooo into teaching.  If you read on from there, Burgess gives more examples and they certainly fit my visual to a t!

“In these challenging and changing times, our students need leaders who are willing to venture forward without a clear map to explore new frontiers.”

Can we say profound here?  I try to walk in my room everyday thinking that I needed to be an example to my kiddos that makes them want to try in all that they do and learn as much as possible.  But some days it’s really hard.  Let’s correct that.  Some weeks it’s really hard.  What can I do to maintain that drive?  How do I keep from becoming so discouraged that I throw in the towel?  Well that’s where chapter 1 comes in!

So chapter 1 is the P in pirate and it’s called “Passion”.  Burgess breaks passion down into three categories- content, professional, and personal.  Now one I loved is he had some questions for me to answer to myself under each category.  So here are my thoughts before I read his:

  • Content Passion-what I’m passionate about teaching in my subject matter: I really love teaching reading (even though I struggle with it sometimes in isolated areas).  I love watching a student put those phonics and high-frequency word skills together and read a book on their own.  It gives me chills every time!  But as I sat and pondered this, one area of teaching that I really don’t enjoy as much came as a surprise to me and that was social studies.  I’ve lived in areas where major world events were happening right in front of me (i.e. East and West Berlin becoming united-not kidding, my first time voting was the same one as the famous Florida recount, I was going to school in the small town that the space shuttle Columbia blew up over).  Oh and I’m the campus curriculum leader for this subject area.  So where’s my love and passion?  What’s happened?  My best answer- this always gets shoved to the back of the priority list in our scheduling AND lack of resources since the state has yet to buy new instructional resources for us, despite the fact that our state standards in this area have changed.  Makes it tough to love.  But I’ll fix that!
  • Professional Passion- part of the job not specific to subject matter: For me, it’s the kiddos.  I have always loved watching them learn and make connections.  I love it when a student who has been struggling to learn something finally tackles and swells with pride at their success.  I also love being a champion for a student who needs one.  I love knowing that my attention and focus on them helps that student thrive in every way even more.  That’s why I feel teaching is a calling.  Not just some job.
  • Personal Passion- something completely outside the classroom: My family and my faith keep me grounded in so many ways.  Without them, I have nothing to work for.  Both are so intertwined and essential to each other that they are truly my foundation when I’m struggling.  I also love music- listening, playing, and singing.  I do use songs whenever possible in my teaching as I’ve found it really helps the kiddos retain that information much better.  I also love doing things outside- running, camping.  So yes I definitely value recess!  😉  And just being silly.  My kiddos love telling me jokes and making me laugh!  Laughter truly is the best medicine!  🙂

So what does all this mean?  Well as Burgess says, “We are not passionate about everything we teach.”  It was so nice to see those words printed- liberating!!  Taking those 3 passions and melding them, using the other 2 when one is faltering is the best way to keep that burning desire to be an awesome teacher alive.  I really like this statement about personal passion: “Bringing your personal passion to the classroom empowers you to create a more powerful lesson because you are teaching from an area of strength.”  How true!

Now to end things, I want to leave you with this final quote from the chapter and what it means to me because it really got me- “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.”

Oh my goodness.  My first year of teaching, my school was in the 3rd year of the Texas Reading First Grant.  Everyone had to follow the program exactly as written.  No outside materials.  Period.  While a part of me was glad from the “first year teacher” perspective because I realized I didn’t know what I was doing as well as I thought.  But now, as I am about to enter my 8th year, I realized how that stifled my creativity and the possibility of greater things for me and my students.  While the grant required this, it kept me from taking chances and being bold, adventurous.  A pirate.  Now, I’m struggling to find my sea legs.  But I’ll be honest and say that all this blogging stuff (both writing and stalking) and sites like Teachers Pay Teachers and Teachers Notebook have really brought out the rebel in me!  I’ve also got a supportive principal as well as no grant restrictions!  So it’s time for me break out the dark eyeliner and tall boots and find me some treasure!  Argh!!

Please go visit the 2 hosts for this book study for more on this chapter as well as the main host blog for the chapter specifically.  I’ve also linked up with them.  Just click the buttons!

Guided Math
Happy Teaching!/


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