Learn Like a Pirate is not a sequel to Teach Like a Pirate (which I had thought). Rather the two are companion books; both are books by outstanding teachers with innovative ideas for making our classrooms what they should be.
Of the four books I read this summer this was by far my favorite. Teachers are gifted with preparing students for the future, their future. Cookie cutter classrooms in which students sit in rows and listen to direct instruction are not preparing our students for the future workforce. Something has to change.
Most teachers that I know are burned out and exhausted by April testing. They live for the summer. Over the past few years I have found that I am quite the opposite. I love this part of the school year and it is so bittersweet. You may be thinking that I am crazy (and I am) but let me explain. I work hard at teaching my students the routines and procedures of our classroom so that they, in essence, could run it without me. By spring they have usually reached this goal. I can sit back and watch my kids learning, interacting, collaborating. It's truly rewarding. And then the end of May comes and I have to say good-bye to them - and get ready to train a whole new group all over again.
Paul takes this to a whole other level. His classroom in actually student-led. This. This is what I want for my students. I want them to be empowered, take risks, collaborate! Like many teachers I do have some controlling tendencies, but I believe that this model is what is best for our students, right now. In only a couple of weeks our short summer vacation is over and we return for the new school-year and I am so excited to follow is Paul's footsteps to begin to foster a student-led classroom. I'll be taking baby-steps, but I know that my main goal is this...to allow students to interrupt the class. It's going to be scary, and I'm sure it will be a challenge for myself and my 5th graders, but I am excited to take it on!
If there is just one education book you read this summer/year, make it this one!
A huge inspiration for the student-led classroom is something that I learned about this past year: Google's 20% time. The obvious next book for me to read was more on this topic...Pure Genius by Don Wettrick. Post coming in a few days!
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