Ask these Two Questions to Improve Your Lesson Delivery

In “Teach Like a Pirate” Dave Burgess acknowledges two questions he uses during his seminars to get participants thinking about their lessons. The two questions are created to help his participants confront the, often harsh, realities of their daily lesson delivery. They’re also designed to get participants thinking about what their expectations or standards are for classroom possibilities.

Question One: If they didn’t have to be there, would you be teaching to an empty room?

It might sound harsh or maybe even a bit frustrating, but would your students even be in the classroom if they didn’t have to be?

Look, we’re not going to sugarcoat it: sometimes what we teach is boring. Not every single thing you teach is going to be inherently exciting. You’re not always going to be teaching a lesson about pirates, or reading some fantastic and engaging book, or teaching an equation that really wows. However, that doesn’t mean your lessons should suffer.

Dave Burgess asks you to consider whether or not your students want to be there overall. If they could skip, would they? If they have a doctor’s appointment, are they sad to miss your class or rushing to get back?

Once you come to terms with how your students perceive your lessons, you can start to improve them. You don’t have to hit it out of the park every single day. However, it helps to raise the bar a little bit. You should be striving for a classroom that your students actively want to be a part of. They should remember your class at the end of the year, and not want to miss daily lessons. Plus, when they’re more engaged, they’ll learn more and misbehavior will go down.

Just because a student doesn’t have a choice in what they’re learning, doesn’t mean they should be chronically bored by it. After all, when students are excited to attend a class, they’re more engaged, and when they’re more engaged they’re learning better.

Question Two: could you sell tickets to any of your lessons?

Dave Burgess acknowledges that the majority of people will answer “Well, no” to this question. But it’s a great thought-exercise to see how your lessons stack up.

Ultimately though, your lessons should feel special, inspiring, and worthy of purchase. You should have multiple lessons that really wow your students. It’ll be impossible to make every single day of your classroom worthy of high ticket-sales. However, sprinkling these days throughout your year will ensure that your students are getting joy out of their learning.

So ask yourself these two questions throughout the year. By constantly checking back in on your lessons you’ll help raise the bar on what makes a good lesson in your mind. In turn, your students will be happier, more engaged, and excited to learn what you’re teaching.

Learn more Student Engagement Tips at our Pirate Day Conference

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Why pairing explicit instruction and behavior supports makes sense

Too often, we make instruction and classroom management separate issues. If you’ve worked in a classroom before, you know this isn’t the reality. Great instruction requires great classroom management and great classroom management requires great instruction. The two work together, in harmony, not opposition.

That’s why you should teach both instruction and classroom management together. We do this on our team, by working with the Strategic Instruction team here at Region 13. We collaborate to create classroom systems which take both classroom management, and instruction, into account. Here are three reasons we think you should bundle instruction and management together

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Personal Accounts: Trauma and SEL

Social Emotional Learning and Trauma

Today our specialist, Monica Kurtz gives us her thoughts on trauma and the importance of teaching Social Emotional Learning in our schools.

School shootings.  Outrage. Fear. Helplessness.  My newsfeed is filled with almost daily reports of another shooting, more victims.  More death. Working in a school, particularly in behavior, I have worked with students that scare me.  I can envision a dark future that involves them, weapons and widespread destruction. How do we combat that darkness?  I’m not the only person asking that question.

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Tips for Setting up our Classrooms to Improve Classroom Management

When we talk about classroom management, we often lean on theory but forget the practical steps you can take. One of the best things you can do for your classroom, is learn how to physically set up your classroom for success. We asked Angela Isenberg to give us a few tips on how to properly set up your physical space to boost classroom management.

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3 Reasons why Behavior Charts Are Not Effective

Why Behavior Charts aren't effective

Plenty of schools use behavior charts to track their students’ behavior. Behavior charts come in all shapes and sizes and are used primarily to motivate students to behave better while in class. At the core, the idea seems right: by tracking our students’ reactions throughout the day we encourage them to make better choices. But like many things, the idea works better than its practical applications.

Behavior charts can reinforce students who are already sociable and well behaved, but negatively affect those students who aren’t. Using charts in your classroom can affect students with a history of trauma, shame your students, and enforce strict obedience instead of actual change. Here are three big reasons why behavior charts aren’t effective.

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Tips to Setting up Efficient and Effective Classroom Rules

Setting Up Efficient and Effective Classroom Rules

The hardest part of starting any new school year, or even a new semester is setting up effective and efficient classroom rules. Classroom management can be difficult, because what works for one group of students isn’t going to work for the next. We asked Albert Felts to break down for us his process for setting up effective and efficient classroom rules and this is what he gave us:


I always think of classroom rules as the hill I want to die on. What that means, my rules need to be so consistently enforce, that the world stops when there’s a rule violation. If they’re not consistently enforced, then it’s not a helpful tool for students to navigate how we want our classrooms to run.

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Three Tips to Create Great FBAs and BIPs

Functional Behavior Assessments and Behavior Intervention Planning

We asked our education specialist, Amy Fanetti to give us a little bit of insight on how to write great functional behavioral assessments and behavior intervention plans. For newbies to the behavior world, functional behavioral assessments and behavior intervention plans are critical documents that guide us as we deal with behavior on a campus or in the classroom.

Functional behavioral assessments help us understand the purpose or reason for behaviors displayed by our students due to a variety of factors. Through interviews, data collection, and more, we come to understand why a specific student might be exhibiting a behavior, therefore helping us plan for the future.

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The Four Types of Leaders from Dr. Peter DeWitt’s Collaborative Leadership

We’re featuring a special guest post from our friends and super-smart co-workers, the Strategic Instruction Team. In it they break down Dr. Peter DeWitt’s four types of leadership, helping you identify which type you are.


As we look towards the fast-approaching New Year, we’re focusing on building stronger, more collaborative leaders. Your PBIS teams or your school behavior teams are strengthened or hindered by their leadership. It’s unfortunate, but it’s true: teams are stronger when everyone’s working together.

On our team (the Strategic Instruction Team at Region 13), we’ve been thinking a lot about leadership types and collaboration. Personally, we’ve always been strong proponents of collaboration in leadership roles. We believe everyone works best when leaders work with everyone, not just dictate what needs to be done in a classroom. We’ve been so inspired by Dr. DeWitt’s work that we’ve even invited him to present to us here at Region 13 on March 6th.

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Announcing the 2018 – 2019 Behavior Coach Endorsement Program

Our Behavior team at the Education Service Center, Region 13 is pleased to announce we’re officially accepting applications for Cohort 12 of the Behavior Coach Endorsement Program! The endorsement program is an intensive, 240 hours of training for administrators, counselors, teachers, and paraprofessionals who wish to become a behavior specialist.

This program focuses on a multi-tiered system of behavior supports, as we spend the 240 hours training you in the following topics:

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