Deanna Beck, Principal, Northwood ABC Elementary
This year, several members of our staff are reading Teach Like a PIRATE, by Dave Burgess, while I’m reading Lead Like a PIRATE, by Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf. In both books, “PIRATE” is an acronym, with “T” representing “Transformation.” Burgess and Houf share that as school leaders we must be courageous in our willingness to take risks for growth and make a stand to make our schools better.
This message is even more important today. We are being pulled in so many different directions. We have academic performance pressures from society, budget pressures from the state, social performance pressures from our communities, general performance pressures from our districts, support pressures from our staffs, and meeting individual student needs pressures from families. This is on top of our pressure to balance our home and work lives while also taking care of ourselves so we can do this important work.
We need to be transformative to meet all these needs. We need to be willing to take risks to change the character and feel of schools that have been in place since the days of Horace Mann. We must be courageous in changing how we deliver instruction. This may include looking at personalized learning, or thinking of students beyond belonging to just one teacher in elementary, or a teacher only teaching a single subject in secondary schools. It may even include thinking beyond students doing only a single grade-level curriculum.
Along with this, we have to rethink how we view our professional communities. We do need to work together to think outside the proverbial box to provide appropriate educational experiences for all of our students. We must reach out and collaborate with our peers—principals at all levels—and collaborate with our peers across the state, country, and even the world.
Look for ways to re-energize your schools, your students, your staff, and, most importantly, you. What can you do differently? Who can you reach out to in order to develop new ideas? Who can you collaborate with to implement these ideas?
“Provide an uncommon experience for your students and they will reward you with an uncommon effort and attitude.” ― Dave Burgess, Teach Like a PIRATE (Note: You can substitute “staff” or “community” for “students” ―the message is similar.)