Learn Like a Pirate – Section 1


I am so excited to be teaming up with The Primary Gal for her Learn Like a Pirate book study!  I am loving this book so far and I can’t wait to read more and see what everyone is thinking!

Here’s what I’m thinking about Section 1: The Student-Led Classroom

I so want to give my students more control.  I really, really do.  But I’m a little bit of a control freak…let’s be real here, aren’t most teachers control freaks on some level?

I always give the reason: “First graders aren’t ready to take control of their learning.”  or “I work in a co-taught room.  I can’t just make classroom decisions on my own.”  But I really know that I’m wrong.  It’s just scary to change things so dramatically.

Don’t get me wrong, I teach guided reading and my students work in centers.  They usually complete one activity I assign and then self select their activities for the rest of that time (though I’m working on that, too!) and this lets me believe that they are taking over some of the responsibility in the classroom.  But, I know this isn’t enough.

My school is working on a building wide focus on “GRIT” next school year and Salozar speaks to the idea that we can teach children to push through mistakes and learn from failure.  He recognizes that students can learn from their mistakes AND that it’s valuable for them to see their teacher make mistakes, too.  But how hard is that!  Who likes to struggle or fail?  Not me, but I ask my students to put themselves out there and take risk everyday, so I’m going to do it, too.

Something that came up in “How Children Succeed” by Paul Tough and that Solarz also comments on is that we so often protect our children and students from failure, that they make only the safe choices in life.  They pick the sure thing because they don’t know how to fail.  Failure is part of life and by giving children the chance to try, struggle  and maybe fail we are teaching an important life skill that is better learned in the classroom than in the first big job interview.

I can’t wait to dig in deeper and think more about how this will work in my classroom…it’s hard to argue with the ideas Salozar offers in support of the student lead room:

– The teacher has more time to offer immediate, relevant feedback to students and ensure learning

– Students need to learn how to ask better questions and discover answers.

– Students learn 90% of what they teach others.

– Collaboration teaches important life skills, including grit, problem-solving and leadership.

What’s not to love?!?

One last thought from Dave Burgess in the introduction of Learn Like a Pirate: Education isn’t just about raising test scores; it’s about raising human potential.

It’s a big job.  Let’s get to it!

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Happy Reading,


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5 Responses to Learn Like a Pirate – Section 1

  1. Great post, Elisabeth! I seriously love how your quoted all of your excuses as to why you can’t have a student-led classroom. I also love how you basically told yourself to get over it! 🙂 I can’t wait to hear what you think of the upcoming chapters!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Elisabeth says:

      Thanks so much for stopping by and for hosting! I have a vision of a more student led room, but I needed a push to make actual changes – I think this will be it. 🙂


  2. Paul Solarz says:

    Hi Elisabeth! 🙂

    Funny how you mention being a control freak! I am TOTALLY a control freak too! I never like to let anyone else drive, everything in my classroom has its CORRECT place it belongs, and I’ve signed up for nearly every district committee so I can have a say in things moving forward! (I have a problem!!!) 😉

    The funny thing that I discovered is that the more power I give my students (notice that I have the power and am choosing to GIVE it to my students), the more in control I feel. Here’s why: Before my classroom was quite this student-led, I had trouble keeping up with all the demands of my job. I always felt behind and always felt overwhelmed. Teachers are overstretched for sure! But then, I slowly started delegating responsibilities and before I knew it, EVERYTHING was getting done! Things were in their proper place without me walking around and cleaning, students were catching kids up who had been pulled for speech or social work, the phone was getting answered by students and handled by students! I used to go into school EVERY weekend and work 5-10 hours easily, but now I work a typical week at school and get the rest done at home! I’ve never felt more in control!!!

    I can’t wait to read your post next week, Elisabeth! Thanks so much for participating in this book study!!!


    • Elisabeth says:

      Thank you so much for your thoughts! Wow…I appreciate you stopping by my little post.
      I like how you think about it as controlling how much you give over to your students – that might make my control freak heart a little happier! 🙂 haha
      I can’t wait to read and think more about making my classroom more student lead.


  3. Pingback: Five for Friday {June 5} | literacy and lattes

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