Monday, May 18, 2015

Teach Like A PIRATE DAY 3, In The Books

In Teach Like A PIRATE, the author, Dave Burgess, asks what would happen if the kids were not forced to show up to a teacher's class?  On Teach Like A PIRATE Day, we put that question to the test.

This morning, we allowed 514 5th and 6th grade students to go wherever they wanted for an entire day.  That is always a scary thought, and this is the third year I have been a part of such an experiment, and the results have been consistently amazing.
  • Our attendance rate was near perfect (98.3%)
  • Our discipline referrals were almost non-existent (had two today, both were from recess).
  • Our kids ran TO the next class because they were so excited
  • Our kids are excited about learning in the last week of school
  • It is exhausting
Kids will run to your class if you give them a reason to.  They will do this in September, November, March, and even May.  Kids will be so engaged in their learning they will not have time to think about doing things they should not be doing.  If you are struggling with classroom management, consider the activities of your lesson rather than adding more restrictive rules.

When I first put this idea out to my staff three years ago, I really had two purposes.  One, I wanted the teachers to see that kids could be excited about their classes.  Secondly, and more importantly, I wanted the teachers to create these experiences on an ongoing basis.  My hope was, we could make school exciting more often, not just on one designated day.

I have changed districts since that first TLAP Day in Utica, and we have already accomplished these two goals at Big Walnut Intermediate.  I see phenomenal, engaging, Teach Like A PIRATE activities going on all throughout the school year, not just one out of 180.  However, this is not the end of TLAP Day.  It continues to become bigger and better each and every year.  Once again, we had educators from around the state travel to Sunbury, Ohio to witness this educational/social experiment and I am not going to lie, I take great satisfaction in knowing we are influencing schools around the state and even around the country.  School does not have to be a miserable, oppressive place.

Three years ago, we were the only school in the world to try TLAP Day.  Today, we Skyped with a school in Missouri who was doing their very own TLAP Day.  The idea is spreading, which means our kids are benefitting.

Today our kids had a videoconference with employees at Google, created their own art, participated in science experiments, learned about Chinese culture, used critical thinking skills in solving problems, flew to the moon, faced the Shark Tank, built their own roller coaster, went on multiple scavenger hunts, and made their own bouncy balls.  They should sleep well tonight.

This has been such a successful endeavor because our teachers are on board.  They put in their own time and their own money in creating these experiences.  Without their hard work and dedication, this would never happen, and I cannot thank them enough.  We also have a great community who is supportive of some of the crazy things we do.  You have no idea how nice that is.

Check out our hashtag on Twitter for photos of the day.  #tlapday3

156 kids in Mystery Skype

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