Part III - Building a Better Pirate
The Awkward Question
Where Do I Start?
Finding a Crew
In this last section of the book, Dave Burgess offers some encouragement to take the leap and become a pirate teacher. He asks the question: "Do you want to be great?" Then he examines why we teachers want to shy away from that question. He challenges us to embrace wanting to be a great teacher - "mediocrity doesn't motivate" he says. And he's right. We should want to be great teachers and not worry about what others may think or do.
He asks a second question: "Where do I start?" The answer? Here and now. Take a step. Don't just swallow the fear, live it. Try something; take a risk; be ready to fail. He says, "If you haven't failed in the classroom lately, you probably aren't pushing the envelope enough." I agree. I think it's okay to fail. It's not okay to just stay there. Learn from it and try again. If others criticize (and someone will), examine it. If it's legitimate, learn from the critical remarks. If not, ignore it and keep working to be great.
And look to build a support system - a crew. You can't sail on your own. "Don't be limited by your subject, grade level, school, or even profession. Take counsel from a wide variety of people and seek out multiple perspectives." That's why I love Twitter. I follow a lot of educators - most of them are in early childhood or elementary. Some are in middle and high school. Some are administrators or leaders in higher education. But I also follow publishers and graphic designers, photographers and ministers. I try to keep a wide variety of perspectives. You never know where the next inspiration comes from. I think this book proves this very principle. Dave Burgess does not teach early childhood kids. But as I read through his ideas, I saw how his concepts fit into my philosophy - and how those concepts challenged my philosophy, too. If I read only early childhood educators, I would have missed this book and what I've gleaned from it.
I loved this book. All the questions and different "hooks" pushed me to think beyond what I normally think. It made me take a step back and think about some critical thoughts I've had about some other teachers' approach. (But I still keep my stand as Team No Glitter!)
As I wrote in the previous post on this book, this book is about being intentional. I need to make deliberate choices in what I do in the classroom. Not just what I do but what I don't do, what I create the space to look and sound like, what I let go and what I don't. My teaching is more than a set of activities or a block of content. It's an experience that can be fun, unexpected, and memorable. (Or none of those things.)
Here are a few additional quotes that motive me to be a more passionate - great! - teacher:
- "Great teaching gets messy sometimes and we have to constantly be aware of the changing landscape in our rooms and make 'moves' based on what works, not on what is necessarily theoretically ideal or, God forbid, scripted."
- "When in doubt, take action."
- "Realize that anytime you say yes to something, you are saying no to something else. Learn to say yes to the significant."
- "Some choices are major and others are minor, but even the minor decisions, when added up, create impact."
- "Provide an uncommon experience for your students and they will reward you with an uncommon effort and attitude."
And this one sums up where I want to be as a teacher--
"Forget about all the things that you can't control and play your drum to the best of your abilities. Play with all the passion, enthusiasm, and heart you can muster. Nothing else really matters."See you out there on the high seas!
(and in the next book -
Next book: Free to Learn by Peter Gray