Learn Like a Pirate #2

Learn Like a Pirate #2

Be Kind, With Love, 

Hello guys! You’re friendly southern educator here………….yep, straight from the home state this time. It’s nice to be home for awhile, but not so nice struggling with WIFI connections to keep up with work in two time zones. Let me tell ya, it’s more stressful than trimmin a tree and tryin not to disturb the beehive in the branches.

I’ve missed writing and sharing things that I think you will enjoy so while I’m in the “green” with borrowed WiFi, let’s get on with more PIRATE stuff. I swear, if I weren’t such a stubborn pirate, I would’ve given up on this whole mess when the obstacles hit, but as it is, I suppose I was just born this way.

It’s been a while, but I believe last time I was trying to introduce students to the ways of the pirate madness. Yes, yes, such fun and madness will ensue once they figure out that they can and will be able to control their own learning and not have to rely on what others say and just become a mere follower in the ways of learning and growing. Also becoming a thinker of their own thoughts.

Oh, but Teacher, Pirate, Christy, I have oh so many concerns about this mission.

Really? Hmmm? Well, you wouldn’t be a Pirate if ya didn’t have some questions, but no need to whine, let’s get on with knockin out those waves and set your ship back upright so you can merrily sail on your pirate way.

“Right is right, even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it.” —Augustine of Hippo

So, the kids just come in and decide what they will do and not do? I just can’t do that. I have to be in control, after all, I have standards to meet and people to answer to. What kind of teacher lets children decide those types of things?

Nope. Otherwise, you’d have a whole fleet of pirates out searching for the candy festival everyday.

Rather, look at it this way: you set the course, they just figure out how to get there in one piece without mutiny or sinking the ship. The teaching standards and such don’t change, simply the manner of teaching. They choose the METHOD of learning, which does seem to make sense, doesn’t it? Afterall, who is supposed to be learning stuff, you or them? Wouldn’t it make sense that they know how they learn best?

Everyday, teachers need to provide learning opportunities for students to practice the necessary skills until they become habits. In addition, teachers must give encouraging feedback when students make positive decisions and supportive feedback when negative decisions are made. It is also extremely important to show appreciation for any attempt made despite the outcome in order to ensure that they try again in the near future!

Practice makes permanent, so help them practice correctly! — Paul Solarize

You are still the head pirate, you have the ultimate authority, just use it wisely.  Otherwise, you’ll have nothing but a mess of underlings in your room afraid to take risks and try new things. If you are going to be an overbearing captain, then there’s really no sense in trying to allow students to lead themselves.

When you feel yourself trying to take over their learning and making them do it YOUR way, bite your tongue, flick a rubberband on your wrist, close your eyes and pray for a lightning bolt to hit ya…………I don’t care how you stop yourself, just do it! Pretend you are not bothered by their obvious, horrendous, mistake that will lead to ultimate failure if you don’t stop them, just smile and nod and walk away and let them figure it out. YES! I said that. Let THEM figure it out for themselves what was wrong, why it was wrong and how to fix it.

OH, but Christy, this will take ever so much time and I have other things to cover.

OK, yeah sometimes you don’t have time to see it all the way through and you may need to make some suggestions. Think about it, in the whole scheme of things, which takes more time: letting them figure it out and learn from the experience or telling them over and over how to do the same thing because they are simply waiting for you to tell them how to do it because they never really learned it in the first place?

“But Christy! This is a critical year and I just can’t risk wasting time trying to figure out how to create this type of environment. I have so much to do, I can’t try it if it won’t work, where does that leave my timing of meeting my standards?”

Isn’t every year a critical year for learning? So if this is the excuse, then you’ll never start, but really? What have you got to lose? What happens when students just aren’t prepared to lead? The teacher leads, yes? Well, of course, so in essence, your students need a little more prep to begin their pirate journey so you continue to practice and be head pirate and continue on your path of Teaching Like a Pirate. Nothing lost and much has been gained. A foundation has been started and you know where your students’ weaknesses lie and they have gotten a taste of how to have fun while learning. You’ve empowered them to start thinking just a bit for themselves.

But, I don’t want to be seen as a failure in my own classroom.

Oh hell, the only failure is the one who never tries. If you are so afraid of making mistakes, why in the world are you in a classroom with all those impressionable minds? If you can’t point out your own mistakes and turn it into a learning experience, how do you expect your students to feel comfortable when they make a mistake? They are going to be so afraid of making mistakes and being thought of as dumb that they will never take a risk or step outside of the box. Therefore, they will never learn and you have just become a hindrance to their learning, their self-esteem and their growth. Now, which is better: head out into the open ocean with an open mind to find that treasure, OR selling the ship without ever sailing it at all to someone else and feeling the loss of the adventure every single day? My choice? I’ll go down with my ship, thank you very much!

I know one concern that is on everybody’s mind:  My room will be loud!

Yep, yep, yes and absolutely. Hopefully it’ll be one of the loudest on the hallway. Why? Because productive communication and excited outbursts show active learning! As a teacher, you can walk around and see the learning or rather, hear the learning  going on between the groups and yes, sometimes, it will get loud, but if it is bothering other crews and ships, they can wander around the room and find a quieter corner. Nothing says they have to stay in that one spot. Also, as head pirate, you would have set up a signal word or code to mean “quiet, we have something to say”. Perhaps a clap or a chant or a simple “Give Me Five”.

Well, I do have a crew to manage here at the home base in the states so as head Pirate, I should get around and find out what they are doing and make sure they are on task. Trust me, I already know they aren’t. For some reason, when Mom arrives, they all turn into teenagers again. But that is the joy of life!

As Always,
Be Kind,
With Love,

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