Teach Like a Pirate for (supposedly) Grown-Ups

Turns out they're right, sort of. Who's right? Moms and researchers who say successful multitasking is a myth. Last night I tuned-in to two social media enabled professional development (PD) experiences. The first was the wildly popular #TLAP (Teach Like A Pirate) tweetchat; the other: an exciting 40 minutes of #EDUALLSTARS video blog.

Person multitasking with too many balls in the air


Here it is the next day and I have barely a wisps of memory of what both were about. But oh what wisps they are. My take-away from the #TLAP is that #EDCAMP, since August 2013 my preferred PD modality, is like #TLAP for (ostensibly) grown-ups. Dave Burgess, author of Teach Like a Pirate, argues that there are three things teachers need to really engage their learners: content knowledge, mastery of teaching strategies and presence (presentation style). Last night's #TLAP chat was mostly about schools holding teach like a pirate events over an entire class or school. Being that I support adult learners I couldn't really contribute directly to the chat. So I focused on the video blog. #EDUALLSTARS' format includes Todd Nesloney and Chris Kesler interviewing school administatior Benjamin Gilpin. During the interview Gilpin said something that resonated bigtime with me: the importance of being authentic; of making mistakes and owning up to that; of acknowledging, in a positive way, everyone you meet. This stuff really grabbed me.

The #EDCAMPS that I've been to, nine so far, are populated by real people: educators of all stripes coming together to share. It takes the newbie only a few moments to realize that learning starts by sharing: asking questions and listening. Share what you know: There are probably others nearby that want to learn what you know and vice-versa. Which brings me back to #TLAP's main premise: presentation and passion. You have to care enough about what interests you to be able to grab and keep the attention of others. Learner engagement is what you get when you share what you love.

Educators sharing what they know

Today I shared my passion for educational technology by making a small spreadsheet that lets my team track a project we're working on. They're excited to want to learn more. This is a good thing because being the new person on the team I depend on them to share their know-how. Mutual sharing enables increased trust which encourages more sharing: a virtuous cycle if there ever was one.


I think grown ups, unlike first graders, fear mistakes. Maybe there's something to that fear. But if you keep playing it safe, not taking chances and trying new things and sharing what happens where do you end up?

Be a pirate! Be passionate about what you do. Acknowledge the positive in those around you. Share. Learn.


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