#DBC50Summer 1/50: Teach Like A Pirate

Let me take you back…

It’s 2014 and I am attending an #edcamp where I meet my friend, Lisa Milstead, a fellow Pirate from my graduate studies at East Carolina University face-to-face for the first time!  She proceeds to tell me about this book that she’s read and is absolutely crazy about; she also has on a pirate bandanna.  After hearing her go on and on about how incredible this book is and how down-to-earth the author is, I figure I’ll order it to read on my Kindle. Then I read it, but have no one to share in my enthusiasm on a day-to-day basis.


Moving on – it’s March 2015 and I’m at #edcampRSS with some superstars in education. One, in particular, is Sean Gaillard (remember his name, you’ll hear from him again around post 49).  As we sit in a packed classroom sharing stories from this “pirate book”, my Twitter notifications tell me that I have a message from Dave Burgess, the author, who would like to Skype in with us if we can (y’all, I’m not making this up)! After some technical difficulties with Skype, we manage to make something work and get to speak with the Captain himself. I am… (wait for it) …hooked – and still waiting on that purple #tlap shirt, HA!


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Let’s move forward a bit to September 2015.  At an #edcamp, I win an autographed copy of Teach Like A Pirate (I rarely win anything)!


Present day…

I just reread the very first book in the #DBC50 – Teach Like A Pirate by Dave Burgess (website, follow him on Twitter).  This makes at least the 7th or 8th reading of the book since Lisa introduced me to this crazy Pirate World over 4 years ago.

So you may have heard about this Pirate guy, or seen the book cover that looks oddly out of place with its pirate map and treasure among all of the static, boring-looking PD books on the store shelves. Well, in this case, you CAN judge a book by its cover!  The content within this book is just as exceptional as its cover & just as different from the other books surrounding it!  You will not be bored to tears, I can promise you that! Teach Like A Pirate is an inspirational book that will get you fired up to be an educator. Dave reminds us that we are “in the life-changing business” and pushes us to “relentlessly search for what engages students, then have the guts to do it”!  You may wonder what in the world the “pirate” thing is about.  The PIRATE system is embodied in three ways.

  1. It’s about the Spirit of a Pirate, not the dictionary definition!  Pirates are willing to sail into uncharted waters with no guarantees of success.  They take risks and often pave the way for others.
  2. Pirates are known for having hooks.  These hooks are ways to draw your students in and engage them in unconventional ways.
  3. PIRATE is also an acronym.  Each letter stands for something within the PIRATE system (read the book to find out – prepare yourself for the immersion chapter).

This book is about so much more than professional development; it’s also PERSONAL development.  Reading this book helps me understand that it’s not “weird” for me to enjoy my job.  It’s not “strange” to want to get to know my students and their families outside of school.  It’s perfectly acceptable, and encouraged even, to share the story of what my students and I do inside our classroom with the world – both successes and failures!

There are TWO main questions that really resonate with me after reading the book.  It’s always a gut-check when I think of these questions that Dave asks (thanks to Dave’s wife, Shelley Burgess, for the following graphics – her name pops up again soon and it’s amazing)…


So think about it… are you facilitating a room of learning in a way that is so engaging that students would not only attend your class if they weren’t required, but they’d also PAY to be there?  Are you creating experiences for your students?  Or are you just making lesson plans each day?

If you are creating experiences – you should read this book!  It will empower you and motivate you to keep doing the hard work!  Dave reminds us that “it’s not supposed to be easy – it’s supposed to be worth it!

If you are going through the motions just making your daily or weekly plans, coming to school and teaching, grading papers, and when you get home with your stack of worksheets not really sure which handwriting belongs to which student… you should REALLY read this book!  Please!  If you aren’t sure where to start, the Captain has got you covered!  There are over 30 hooks to engage your students, with over 150 questions to ask to help make the very best experience you can create for your students!

If you are a first-year teacher or a 35th year teacher, an English Language Arts, Science, Math, History, or encore/special area teacher, you should grab a copy of this book!  If you are struggling with students who aren’t motivated, those students who struggle playing the “game of school”, or desperate to find new ideas to entice the kids who “already know it all” to be excited about your class, you need to grab a copy! If you have a great relationship with every student in your classroom, or if you aren’t sure what that kid with the red hair in the back of the room’s name is… you should gift yourself a copy of this book!  Basically… if you are an educator, have been an educator, or want to be an educator, go get the book – period!

Finally, Teach Like A Pirate is not only a book, but it’s a community which has created an entire educational revolution.  It’s not a one-and-done read then put the Pirate stuff in the back of your mind where the cobwebs are. You can tap into some incredible Pirate Power by searching on social media for #tlap!  Each Monday night at 6 PST/9 EST you can join the #tlap Twitter chat and be inspired.  I can’t think of a better way to end a Monday.  I also can’t think of a better way to end my first #DBC50Summer blog post, but with a picture of me and the Captain himself at a conference in April 2018 and again in June 2018 (I am that lucky)!  So thankful for this book and its author who started it all – who truly embodies the SPIRIT of a Pirate and took a risk writing this book, starting his own publishing company with his wife, and releasing Teach Like A Pirate in September 2012!


Screen Shot 2018-06-19 at 8.31.34 PM

Resources to get you pumped while you wait for your copy to come in:

Pirate Pedagogy with Dave Burgess: Across the Hall Episode 8

Innovator’s Mindset MOOC Event 1

Teach Like A Pirate: TEDxLitchfieldED

Podcasts: Educator’s Lead Ep74, Under the Crossbones Ep139, Vrain Waves Ep5, My Bad: What I Learned When My Lesson Plan Bombed Twice

Updated June 22, 2018: The creative genius, educator, and instructional coach from Kansas that goes by the name Andrea Paulakovich (blog and Twitter) contacted me on Twitter to let me know that she was interested in joining me on this #DBC50Summer challenge to read each DBC book!  (See her blog about #TLAP here!) I told you the #tlap community was amazing, right? She wanted to see about collaborating on Flipgrid to allow for video responses as educators across the country are embarking on this #DBC50Summer, committing to reading each DBC book!  Of course I replied immediately with a YES!!!  This is a wonderful idea, and I am so excited to partner with Andrea to provide this option for responding!  You may use the question prompts provided to respond to Teach Like A Pirate, but please do not feel limited to only answering those!  Share your thoughts by clicking this link!  The password to the Flipgrid is DBCSummer.

#DBC50Summer Book 2/50: Don Wettrick’s Pure Genius – Stay tuned; this is my FIRST reading of this book & I am pumped!  It’s been on my “to be read” list for a LONG time!

32 thoughts on “#DBC50Summer 1/50: Teach Like A Pirate

  1. Pingback: #DBC50Summer 2/50: Pure Genius | AliciaRay.com

  2. Pingback: #DBC50Summer 3/50: P is for Pirate | AliciaRay.com

  3. Pingback: #DBC50Summer 4/50: Learn Like A Pirate | AliciaRay.com

  4. Pingback: #DBC50Summer 5/50: Ditch That Textbook | AliciaRay.com

  5. Pingback: #DBC50Summer Book 1-10 Recap | AliciaRay.com

  6. Pingback: #DBC50Summer 15/50: The Classroom Chef | AliciaRay.com

  7. Pingback: #DBC50Summer 18/50: The Writing on the Classroom Wall | AliciaRay.com

  8. Pingback: #DBC50Summer 20/50: Instant Relevance | AliciaRay.com

  9. Pingback: #DBC50Summer 22/50: Start. Right. Now. | AliciaRay.com

  10. Pingback: #DBC50Summer 28/50: Shattering the Perfect Teacher Myth | AliciaRay.com

  11. Pingback: #DBC50Summer Book 21-30 Recap | AliciaRay.com

  12. Pingback: #DBC50Summer: The Wild Card | AliciaRay.com

  13. Pingback: #DBC50Summer 35/50: The Wild Card | AliciaRay.com

  14. Pingback: #DBC50Summer 38/50: Google Apps for Littles | AliciaRay.com

  15. Pingback: #DBC50Summer 47/50: Lead with Culture | AliciaRay.com

  16. Pingback: #DBC50Summer 49/50: The Pepper Effect | AliciaRay.com

  17. Pingback: #DBC50Summer 50/50: The EduNinja Mindset | AliciaRay.com

  18. Pingback: #DBC50Summer Book 41-50 Recap | AliciaRay.com

  19. Pingback: #DBCBookBlogs: Be Real | AliciaRay.com

  20. Pingback: #DBCBookBlogs: Run Like A Pirate | Educational Hindsight

  21. Pingback: #DBCBookBlogs: Make Learning Magical | Educational Hindsight

  22. Pingback: #DBCBookBlogs: Stop. Right. Now. | Educational Hindsight

  23. Pingback: Mustang Madness | Educational Hindsight

  24. Pingback: Top Ten Blog Posts of 2018 | Educational Hindsight

  25. Pingback: #DBCBookBlogs: Sanctuaries | Educational Hindsight

  26. Pingback: #DBCBookBlogs: Educated By Design | Educational Hindsight

  27. Pingback: #DBCBookBlogs: Lead Beyond Your Title | Educational Hindsight

  28. Pingback: #DBCBookBlogs: The Revolution | Educational Hindsight

  29. Pingback: What Exactly Do Great Educators Do Differently? | Educational Hindsight

  30. Pingback: #DBCBookBlogs: Through the Lens of Serendipity | Educational Hindsight

  31. Pingback: What Happens After A Year of Twitter Chats? | Educational Hindsight

  32. Pingback: #EduEyeExam Information | Educational Hindsight

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s