Thursday, May 23, 2013

Teach Like a PIRATE Day...More Reflections

I will try to give a better description of how things occurred on May 22, 2013.  On Wednesdays in our district, the students come to school an hour later than normal.  As a staff, we use that time for ongoing professional development.  The bus routes just run an hour later than a normal day and the class periods were only 32 minutes long.

Our kids entered the building at 8:15 AM and were walking the halls with their guidebooks and were scoping things out.  All students reported to Homeroom at 8:24 AM for attendance and morning announcements.  I explained the rules of the day:

  1. They could go to any experience that was offered that period.
  2. They could not go to any teacher more than twice.
  3. They could not be with the same teacher two periods in a row.
  4. Have fun!
As I was walking through the halls, I could sense the excitement, but could not really see any physical differences.  As I made it to the end of the hall and was turning the corner, I could see a line formed outside of Mr. Prince's Science class.  I was not surprised, and if you read the description of his experience, you would not be either.

I walked from room to room and the kids were hooked in every room.  Our building does not have air conditioning, and it was a hot day, but not a single teacher or student complained about it.  It was almost as if no one noticed.

I saw kids doing science experiments; designing candy bars; playing coordinate plane human battleship; kids creating their own Internet radio shows, Mystery Skypes, Native American Pow-wows; and teachers incorporating lessons into traditional games.

I saw what Dave Burgess has been preaching about teaching like a PIRATE.  I saw passion from everyone.  I witnessed students immersed in their education.  I could see the great rapport that many of our staff have with their students.  Students were asking intelligent questions and analyzing the best way to protect their egg before dropping it from the high school balcony.  I saw a school and a staff transform the way education happened because they incorporated a little more enthusiasm than normal.  Once that first period ended, I physically saw a change.  I witnessed students running to their next experience, because they did not want to get closed out.  

Here were some comments from the students on what they liked best about the day:

"Teach Like a PIRATE Day was fun.  I wish every day was like this."

"I liked having the freedom to choose my classes."

Here were some comments from the students on what they did NOT like about the day:


"That we only got to choose 7 classes."

"That we did it on a Wednesday so it was shorter class periods."

"How hard it was to get into some of the rooms.  When trying to get into Mr. Prince's room, you had to fight!!!"

As I mentioned yesterday, it was an absolutely amazing day.  We will be doing this again next year, probably once in the fall and once in the spring.


  1. Ryan, I am so impressed at how well you and your staff pulled off this experiment. I can guarantee you that this is just the start. The buzz about this day has intrigued many school leaders and I fully expect many of them will try a variation of a Teach Like PIRATE Day at their school. Thanks for your innovative spirit and willingness to be a risk-taker. Your experiment will resonate through many school hallways and impact the learning experiences of students far and wide. I'm proud to be a part of this!!

  2. I am a teacher in South Carolina, but Graduated from Utica. I came across this through one of your teachers. I love the idea and think it's a great way to keep student's engaged and to mix it up from the traditional method. I am hoping to present this to my school as something to do once a month or at least once a quarter to mix things up.