Monday, April 27, 2015

Teach Like A PIRATE Day, 3 Weeks Away

Our Teach Like A PIRATE Day will take place on Monday, May 18, 2015.  This will be the 3rd one I have been a part of.  I have to be honest, this one has the potential to be the best one yet.  The main reason for this is because of the enthusiasm of our students and our staff.

When we did the first TLAP Day back in 2013, no one really knew what it was.  I did not let the kids know about it until a few days before it happened.  Last year we began to hype it well in advance, and now, new students enter our school asking about it.  The secret is out.

Our community has embraced this day and local businesses are beginning to put their money behind it.  While we are far from going corporate, local businesses are offering a helping hand.  Our art teacher spoke to the manager at the local Wendy's fast food restaurant to ask if they would donate salad containers for an art project.  Once our teacher explained TLAP Day and how kids run TO the next class, the manager could not say yes fast enough.  The question to my art teacher was "How many do you need?"

I have worked in schools in which it seemed like the community did not support the schools.  When I reflect back, I ask myself, "Did the schools give the community a real reason to want to support them?"  

I hate to make blanket statements.  I cannot say that if you do this in your school that suddenly the community will have your back.  This community supported the schools long before I came to Big Walnut, but TLAP day gives them one more visible reason why they should.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Teach Like A PIRATE Day 3, A Month Away

Two years ago, we put the essential question in Dave Burgess' Teach Like A PIRATE to the test:  if kids didn't have to be there, would you be teaching to an empty room? On May 22, 2013, we gave 270 7th and 8th graders more freedom than they had ever had in their educational lives.  We let them go wherever they wanted for an entire school day.  Teach Like A PIRATE Day was born.

Since then, it has grown and spread.  I have changed districts and brought it with me, other brave educators have tried it and have experienced similar success.  If you create extraordinary experiences for your students you will see extraordinary results.

So for the next month, my blog posts will be dedicated to sharing the process.  I have been contacted by so many educators who wanted to do this in their schools, but just have so many questions.  I have emailed, Skyped, and talked to several people on the phone to help them through the process.  It has been great to connect with so many people and to see this phenomenon spread.

Hopefully these posts will guide you to do this yourself.  At the very least, it may be entertaining reading to see what a crazy school in Ohio is going to do on May 18th.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Why We Are Here

I recently read an opinion piece in Education Week about a Teach For America teacher hanging it up after six years.  I'm not taking a shot at TFA, because quite honestly, that piece could have been written by anyone regardless of their training.  That piece could have been written by me at some point in my career.  

Teaching is hard, and we often hear that it is a thankless job, and sometimes it is.  Sometimes in life, regardless of our profession, we will feel unappreciated, undervalued, and begin to question ourselves and our own abilities.  However, sometimes, that is not the case.  Sometimes parents send notes of thanks, provide food for our staff during conferences and Teacher Appreciation Week, give gifts around the holidays, and even make cookies with your school's name on them.

Before I left my building on Friday, there were two teachers still there celebrating, legitimately joyous over the fact that two students had reached levels of success in their classrooms that was unprecedented for them.  For me, as a principal, you do not know how powerful and meaningful that is.  More importantly, these moments are exactly why we are here.  As teachers, you are changing lives every day, for the better or for the worse.  We have no idea what some of these kids are going through in their lives, and if you think, "Oh kids are not experiencing that in our school" you are wrong.  As teachers, we have to remember that is why we got into this profession in the first place.

This week, you will do many things in which no one will thank you.  However there will likely be a time when someone does.  Don't forget to remember those things as well.