SEN and Inclusion teaching

Teach SEN Like a Pirate #Tlap

One of my first discoveries through Twitter was Dave Burgess’s book Teach Like A Pirate, or #tlap as it’s known. Now I am a fan of pirates and need little encouragement to embrace Pirate culture I also love Lego pirates, a childhood obsession that my job lets me indulge in from time to time (but that could be a blog all by itself). Now unlike some ‘how to be the best teacher and teach better than anyone else books’ I believe Dave’s book is easy to apply in any setting and does not suggest anything that any teacher of SEN can apply.image

I imagine many of you are familiar with the concept of teach like a pirate but for the uninitiated landlubber there are 5 strands (ropes ha har) to this:

Passion – Dave states and I agree that students (and staff if you work as part as part of a class team) are not motivated by monotony and mediocrity. No one wants to come to work with challenging students in a classroom lacking in energy and interest from the captain. This is the greatest means of promoting engagement available for free for teachers.

Immersion – To summarise this; get involved the activities your students are doing, join in, don’t watch PE or games played to enhance social skills join in as an active participant. Not a director. Model those skills you are trying to develop in your class.

Rapport – This is a great one, Get to know your students! In SEN the relationships you have with your students will be your greatest teaching asset. No resource, plan, behaviour support strategy, learning intervention will come close to matching the impact of having a great positive respectful relationship with your class.

Ask and analyse – failure is only feedback in disguise.

Transformation – Dave asks two questions

1) If your students didn’t have to be there, would you be teaching in an empty room?

2) Do you have any lessons you could sell tickets for?

Transformation is about looking at how you deliver lessons, giving them context and meaning. In SEN it is vital that we provide our students with an experience they will remember and learning they can practice and apply outside the classroom.

Enthusiasm – Now if I am honest, sometimes the last thing our students want to do is sit in a classroom all day listening to me. Imagine a CPD event where all you did was listen to a monotonous speaker drone on (this is hopefully not me)! Well whatever your classroom setup if you create your lessons with enthusiasm they will be better, if you delver them as though you are invested in the subject your students will be buoyed up. It’s not about performing all the time. Its about presenting your lessons as the creative investments in time you have made to craft them. The barriers to this, Dave states may be fear of ridicule or lack of focus. I have never met a less judgemental more forgiving group of students than those I teach.

Dave Burgess Quote – Teach like a Pirate


Dave states that “We need entrepreneurial innovators who are capable of captaining the educational ship through waters that are rough and constantly changing.”. He suggests teachers embrace the spirit of the buccaneer to “denounce conformity, and seek adventure”

See the PREZI from my in house CPD here

6 thoughts on “Teach SEN Like a Pirate #Tlap”

  1. Hi Joe,
    We really loved your presentation last night, especially the slides used, ‘which step have you reached today’. Is there any chance you could email a copy to use on display around the school?
    Kind regards Tracy Bullock

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