The opening keynote at the MEMSPA conference I attended this week was Dave Burgess who shared his vision of student engagement based on his book Teach Like a Pirate. In his keynote he talked inspirationally about increasing student engagement, transforming our lives as educators, and boosting creativity by “teaching like a PIRATE” (think acronym).
- Passion-professional passion AND personal passion AND passion about the content. Be passionate about not only the what but also the how.
- Immersion- immerse ourselves into our students and whatever we are trying to teach them.
- Rapport- our greatest classroom management technique is the rapport we cultivate with our students from the start.
- Ask & Analyze- ask the right questions and their brains won’t rest until they find the right answers through meaningful analysis.
- Transformation-transform your students and they will transform you.
- Enthusiasm- create lessons to which you could sell tickets.
He ended with the story of a person who one day said to him in regards to teaching with passion, immersion, rapport, asking/analyzing, transforming, and enthusiasm, “It’s easy for you. You’re creative.” The implications of this comment troubled Burgess. First, the seventeen years he has been reaching have been anything but easy. Lessons have failed and fallen flat. He continues to take great effort to work to improve his craft. Second, the statement implies that teachers are either creative or not, rather than each of us having it within us to boost our own creativity. As you think about teaching in this way, Burgess asked us to reflect on two critical, albeit related, questions.
- If students didn’t have to come to your class, would you be teaching to an empty room?
- Do you have any lessons that you can sell tickets to?
“Don’t just teach a lesson. Create an experience!” That’s what Teach Like a Pirate is all about. Want more? Check out the TEDx talk below…