I had the opportunity to go to Evansville and spend some time with Dave Burgess, author of Teach Like a Pirate, Chris Evans, principal in Gary, Indiana, and a room full of wonderful teachers. The event was Pirate - themed, so I even got the chance to do a short presentation about my book, I am Not a Pirate.
Dave Burgess is amazing when it comes to teaching and inspiring teachers to get excited about the potential they hold to make a difference in their classrooms. Dave encouraged teachers to give students experiences instead of lessons. He shared strategies to motivate students and showed us how to make learning an adventure. Teachers need to teach with passion, have good rapport with their students, be enthusiastic, and focus more on kids than test scores. We know all of these things, but it is always great to see someone that is walking the walk and able to model some great examples of lessons that will be memorable for students.
I think we all left feeling empowered and inspired. One of the big take-aways is that it is not easy and it is not just creative people that can do this. It all starts with figuring out what you need to teach and asking yourself how you can make the learning an experience: How can I create a setting within my classroom? How can I dress up or bring in a guest speaker to make it come alive? How can I get kids out of their seats doing something related to the content? How can I create a hook to make them want to learn this? How can I use props to make it more fun and memorable? Once you have brainstormed many of these questions, you should have a start for planning your experience for the kids.
Taking the extra time to do these things is worth it when you see your students excited and you find yourself eager to get to school to teach each day. It is a win-win situation for sure. Dave Burgess is an incredible, engaging presenter. If you have the opportunity to see him speak, you should.
As the weekend draws to a close, I have been reflecting on the things I am grateful for already in 2014.
I am thankful for so many things…
In all seriousness though, I do have a lot to be thankful for and count my blessings every day.