PD Review: Teach Like a PIRATE by Dave Burgess

“Increase student engagement, boost your creativity, and transform your life as an Educator.”

What’s this about?

Teach Like a PIRATE is broken into three sections. The first section starts out with chapters on Passion, Immersion, Rapport, Ask and Analyze, Transformation, and Enthusiasm. Dave Burgess has coined these as his pillars for teaching like a PIRATE. Each chapter goes into what these mean and how you can build or expand on it in your classrooms. 

The second section is titled Crafting Engaging Lessons and is immediately followed by Building a Better Pirate. These two sections are functional and he offers strategies and hooks that teachers can use and apply to their own classrooms. 


I met this book with a lot of skepticism, as I do most things that tout that they can boost my creativity and transform my life. I was convinced that it wouldn’t be as helpful as I wanted, or needed, it to be. But, this book turned out to be a good read that posed challenging questions for me to sit and ponder.

It starts with: Why are you here? What goals and dreams drove you to teaching in the first place? 

I think that this was a smart move, because we cannot expect to improve our teaching style if we have forgotten why we are teaching in the first place. What I liked most about this section was his style of getting me to think about this. It wasn’t the “because I love English” that he was looking for, but something deeper. What did I set out to change? Helping re-identify my answer to that was a rewarding process that brought my classroom back into perspective. 

Much of the first half follows this style of questioning where Burgess poses a question or a challenge, explains what that has looked like in his own classroom and experience, and then prompts the reader to think about their classroom in the same context. I found this useful because he was able to make things immediately applicable, even though we don’t teach the same content. I could think critically about what I was doing and what was good and what needed some adjustment. 

The ending is where he really won me over. It was filled with what he calls “presentation hooks” that each came with several questions as to how you might adapt what you are already doing in your classroom. He again provides examples of how he brings them to light. I found this part of the book most helpful.

Update: Even a few months after reading this book, I find myself going back to the questions he poses in the end to help you develop different presentation hooks. They have helped me take what might have been a mediocre lesson and try anything I can to make it better and more engaging for everyone in the room.

Teacher Recommendation:

Overall, this is a book I would recommend to any teacher friends who are looking to find ways to add their creativity and passions into the classroom but aren’t sure where to start. I would also recommend this to teachers who might be feeling burnt out or are struggling to find joy in their work. This could be helpful in getting it back.

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