How do your passions influence your teaching?

As part of #pypbookstudy, we are reading and discussing Teach Like a PIRATE by Dave Burgess. In his section about passion (the ‘P’ in PIRATE), Dave encourages readers to thoughtfully answer his three questions. As a blogger, I thought that I might as well publish these answers. As always, my blog keeps me accountable for my reflections.

I have read other books in the PIRATE family and absolutely loved them (click here to read about my other book recommendations). I was therefore excited to read the one that started it all. I’m impressed with the book’s emphasis on ‘how’. This book offers practical advice on how to actually achieve success (as opposed to just listing seemingly unreachable aims). For example, instead of telling teachers that they should be more passionate, Dave offers advice on how to be passionate even when you don’t feel passion towards the lesson content. Like Dave says, we can’t be passionate about everything that we teach.

“I should, perhaps, mention there are rare exceptions… teachers who find everything about the subject they teach exciting. I call them freaks.”

Dave Burgess, Teach Like a PIRATE

1. Within your subject matter, what are you passionate about teaching?

Dave calls this content passion. Unless you’re one of the rare “freaks”, you will not be passionate about all of your teaching content. However, it’s important to acknowledge those objectives/standards that you are passionate about.

My content passions:

  • Mathematics (my favourite subject to teach)
  • Children’s literature
  • Passion projects (also known as Genius Hour, iTime, etc.)
  • Our solar system unit
  • Current affairs
  • Growth mindset

I’m sure that I’ll think of more after this post is published, but you get the idea. Similarly, I could list content that I am not passionate about. According to Dave, passion cannot be faked (even if enthusiasm can). If that’s the case, how can we show passion when we’re not passionate about the content?

“Here’s the key: On all of those days when you don’t have passion for your content, you must consciously make the decision to focus on your professional passion.”

Dave Burgess, Teach Like a PIRATE

2. Within your profession, but not specific to your subject matter, what are you passionate about?

Now we’re talking! I’ll be honest, I found question one by far the hardest! The truth is, I didn’t get into primary teaching because I’m passionate about subject content. Although I enjoy teaching the content listed above, ‘passion’ is probably a stretch. I am, however, passionate about kids. I can easily answer this question.

My professional passions:

  • Building relationships with students
  • Lifelong learning
  • Making learning relevant to students using their interests
  • Using technology to enhance learning
  • Unlocking students’ talents and developing them
  • Character education
  • Instilling a growth mindset in students
  • Failure, as an essential part of learning and growing
  • Being a role model in every way

As Dave suspects, these are the reasons why I became a teacher. These are, without a doubt, my passions. I hope that these passions shine through all of my other blog posts. For those of you who regularly read my blog, the above passions probably come as no surprise. Again, I’m sure that I’ll think of more after publishing. Regardless of lesson content, I can always show passion for these things.

3. Completely outside of your profession, what are you passionate about?

It seems obvious to consider professional passions, but not necessarily personal passions. Why not? These can easily be integrated into my class with intentional planning.

My personal passions:

  • Blogging
  • Travel
  • Social media
  • Reading
  • My puppy
  • Movies

I can think of some occasions when I integrated these into my teaching, but these examples are sporadic. They weren’t used as conscious efforts to be more passionate. For example, when teaching about migration to the USA, I was excited to show the students my travel photos of when I was in New York. Specifically, I shared my experience of Ellis Island Immigration Museum (formerly the immigration station complex). In another example, I suggested that my Exhibition mentor group should blog about their learning (they wrote a guest post for me). In the future, I will be more intentional about calling on my personal passions. These can authentically be used throughout the curriculum to enhance learning and make me a more passionate teacher.

In conclusion, passion does not have to be about the lesson content. We have two other categories of passion to call on. It is, therefore, possible to be a consistently passionate teacher regardless of what needs to be taught.

How would you answer these three questions? I strongly advise you to consider them. Feel free to use the comments section below to note down your responses. I’d be very interested to read them. If you have any ideas about how I can integrate my passions, please share. Thanks in advance!

For more excellent ideas and thought-provoking questions, read the rest of the book (this post has only discussed chapter one!). Join us for the #pypbookstudy chats. Click here for more information. Also, I have a brand new PIRATE idea with a whole new acronym (currently in draft form and awaiting further research). If you’re interested in reading this upcoming post, follow my blog or my Facebook page.


  1. Hey Adam,
    Thanks for writing this post. As I am reading this book, even I was so inspired by each page that was thinking to write something but you beat me….. Will share my answers in a while

    1. Hi Shailja,

      It is a very worthwhile process, so I encourage you to think about it. I look forward to reading your responses.

      See you at the chat on Monday!



  2. Will these 3 be Q1a) b) and c) on Monday? Just pulled out my book. Have some time between classes, so getting my read on!

    1. Hi Tima,

      I considered it, but I also thought these questions would make a good pre-chat activity. I might post them in the Facebook group.

      Enjoy the reading!


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