Now we're getting into the nitty gritty of what PIRATE really means! In this section we find that the P stands for "Peer Collaboration." Again, this is one of those things that I kind of prided myself on. You could walk into my classroom and see students collaborating together. At least I thought you could. From reading this I'm starting to think that sometimes they weren't necessarily collaborating so much as just working together; which is fine and dandy sometimes, but not what I want.
We as teachers have to set the stage for a collaborative community. A place where we are hands off (No more micro-managing! This will probably be the toughest of them all, lol.), give lots of support and feedback and set our goals and expectations high. The second I read this I instantly thought of the company GOOGLE.
This video reiterates how the employees come up with ideas talking with people from other departments, how the bosses are very hands off and trust their employees, how they are a family, etc. Everything this book talks about! Fair warning, the end of the video does talk about how Google promotes women in the work place, so that might not necessarily be as relevant to your students if you decide to show them this video.
Just a few changes in your day to day occurrences can end up having a big impact!
1. Encourage Leadership with Give Me Five: This gives students to power to interrupt at any given time. Now, the southern girl with matching manners in me instantly broke out in hives. BUT he makes a valid point. A lot of the times the kids will interrupt what you are doing to ask you something, tell you something or share something and that interruption could cause the student you are working with to lose focus. Of course now all I can think about is Horshack from Welcome Back Kotter, "OOH, OOH, OOH!" You know we've all got one...
By giving students the power to interrupt you are letting them become leaders. Telling them it is okay to share what they have found so no one else runs into that problem. It is okay to ask different students for help. It is okay to clarify something we are learning about or ask questions. Even when they interrupt and it is inappropriate, that's a teaching moment! Show them how to do this correctly, it will take some time. When you allow this to happen you will see a significant change in how much they rely on you to tell them what to do and how they become problem solvers and leaders themselves.
2. Space that Encourages Learning: Let them roam free and pick a spot in the room they want to work in. This is something I do A LOT and it works out fabulously! If another group is too loud my kids make the executive decision to get up and move themselves, no hinting from me or anything. I mean, look back at that GOOGLE video. Who wouldn't want to work in tent!? You don't even need fancy settings like that, trust me, your kids will love to just get out of their desk and lay on their tummies. But if you do feel the need to have a cool space, you can always add an igloo! Get it, cool space??? Punny, I know ;o)
3. Responsibility Partners: And I shall call you Accountability Partners (because it's part of our 7 Habits lingo - Sorry Paul!). A lot of you probably do something for this already: clock partners, phone partners, Popsicle sticks, etc.
This will not always be a normal partner scenario though, in fact sometimes you're not even working with them! They are there to make sure you are on track, bounce ideas off of, or even ask for help. "How are you doing? Do you need a water break? What do you think of this?" and back to their assignment they go. They are responsible for each other which gives them an interest in one another's success! Paul suggests you keep responsibility partners for a while so they get to know one another and feel comfortable in their pairing. This partnership really helps keep your students on track and in charge of each other (leaders anyone???). Loving it!
4. Classroom Meetings: This is something we will be starting this upcoming year and I am very excited about it! Paul suggest that this is where you talk about class issues and solve them together. This is also the place and time you will really talk about how people are different, what they can bring to the table and empathy for one another. When kids understand differences they are more accepting of others. This is not something they are necessarily born with, some yes but not all, and we need to teach them this concept. In the book he has a lot of ideas and topics for this category but one thing he recommends is a WONDERful (man I am on a roll!) book: Wonder by R.J. Palacio, to help you show and teach your kids these skills. Click on the image to learn more about this amazing book!
5. Competition: Don't make the focus of your classroom the end result, the grade, completing the task. Make it about the process, the learning. As I was reading this section and he was talking about how he could see competition having a negative effect on his classroom, I thought "my kids handle it well, so no worries there" but it's not a matter of how they handle the winning or losing, its how they get there. When I assigned problems it never failed that my kids would always split them or one person would find the answer. No matter how many times I tried to explain that that wasn't the purpose or that's not how I wanted it done. I realize now I was not starting off with a good foundation and I was making the end result more important than the learning. This was a HUGE eye opener of a section for me and it's really probably the smallest section, lol.
Needless to say, big changes are coming my way and I'm excited to implement them and I think the kids will really be excited by these shifts as well! Again, if you have not gone out and grabbed this book, you must! Click on the image below and you can have it at your door in two days time ;o) Got to love Amazon Prime!
I hope you enjoyed my thoughts along the way! Next up is the I in PIRATE... What do you think it stands for?