Should I Teach Like a Pirate?

Honestly, when I first heard the title of Dave Burgess’s (@burgessdave) book Teach Like a Pirate, I thought it was a gimmick. I didn’t give it a second thought. Then, as I listened through back episodes of Vicki Davis’s (@coolcatteacher) Every Classroom Matters podcast, I heard an interview with Dave. This interview peaked my interest, and luckily I was able to find this book at our local library.


Teach Like a Pirate is incredible and unique. Reading it, you are shocked that you haven’t read a book like it before. Dave is paying attention and making conscious decisions well beyond the content and technique that improve lessons. The following are the major take-aways I plan on using to improve my classroom.

When developing a lesson, Dave says, “How can I make this lesson outrageously entertaining, engaging, and powerful so that my students will never forget it and will be desperate to come back for more?” Wow…talk about raising the bar! What I like about this is that there’s no prescribed program or fix-all here, just quality preparation and reflection. If there’s a lesson we know is less-than-excited, we can challenge ourselves to kick it up a notch. Right now I’m imagining what I can do to try to improve lessons on necessaries like quotations marks and perimeter.

How do we do this? Dave suggests focusing on the presentation. I completely get this. I spend most of my time planning the content and technique of the lesson. I make sure there’s direct instruction and group work. I make sure technology is used if it helps. I make sure there are assessment and adjustment opportunities. What I don’t usually do is think about my clothes, music, lighting, props, and many other aspects of a lesson which could keep the students’ eyes glued to me, This type of thinking will help me to reach the next level with my teaching.

Finally, Dave’s idea about giving optional, challenging, exciting extra credit opportunities is something very useful. As a fourth grade teacher, I teach state history and geography, and I love the idea of giving families an interesting place to attempt to find. This is a great, non-threatening way to involve parents in the classroom and would likely create memorable moments for the students.

My classroom will benefit from Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess. Writing this post is my first step toward this goal of increasing engagement in all my lessons; my next step is to jump in and get started!


About mrwhitehb

I teach 4th grade and am the chair of the Young Hoosier Book Award Committee for grades 4-6.

Posted on July 9, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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