5 Questions with… Beth Houf

I have spoken before about the influence that the Dave Burgess book Teach Like A Pirate has had on my career. While taking part in the weekly #tlap chat, I have been able to connect with some amazing educators who continue to challenge the status quo, innovate, and bring about change that ultimately helps children. One of those educators is Beth Houf. Each week, I am amazed by the energy that she brings to our online discussions.

We are honored to have Beth share her insight with us this week.

5 Questions with… Beth Houf

1. What do you most want your students to take with them from your classroom, school or district?

I want each student that I have the privilege to interact with each day to know first and foremost that they matter. Their ideas, their passions, their interests are important to me and can help to change the world. I want students to feel that school is a place to ignite learning each and everyday. I want students to know that I will push them always to be their best but provide the safety net so that failure isn’t fatal.

2. What are the most rewarding and/or the most frustrating aspects of education?

The most rewarding aspects of education come from the smiles, the high fives, the fist bumps, the hugs, the handshakes that happen daily that help you know you are making a difference. Those positive emails, phone calls and conversations with families about how amazing their child is and then seeing tears form in their eyes. The comments from kids on Friday afternoon that they wish it wasn’t the weekend because they love school that much. The rewards come walking through classrooms and watching the magic occurring daily as educators empower and engage our kids to ensure learning. From sitting in team meetings and experiencing the passion of our staff as they work to make our school better for kids. There are so many rewards, but we have to slow down at times and really take time to notice.

3. What advice would you give to young teachers?

  • Get connected! Building a PLN and being connected to the world of education at a global level has been a game changer. It not only gives you a tremendous support system, but also helps you to share and learn strategies from many different perspectives.
  • Take time to build rapport and relationships every single day with your students. Be sure the culture in your classroom is the priority over content. Don’t ever forget that we teach kids first, then objectives.
  • You are going to work harder than you ever have in your life. There will never really be a time that you’ve “mastered” our profession if you are doing it correctly. We are ever-growing, ever-changing, ever-learning.
  • Be the teacher that you would want for your own child. Never lose the passion for the greatest profession of all.

4. What has influenced your career the most?

Teach Like a PIRATE by Dave Burgess has been transformational for my career. It helped me to remember to stay focused on what is important in our profession–our students. I had reached a pivotal moment in my life that I wasn’t sure if I would continue in education. Our focus was data-driven vs. student-driven. I was then introduced to #tlap and my life was forever changed for the better. I made a pledge to take the ideas in #tlap and infuse them into the principalship. I immediately became a part of the #tlap community and had such an amazing support system that have become some of my closest friends. This book has also helped me to find comfort in my uncomfort zone. After 15 years of elementary education, 7 in administration, I made the leap to middle school. Modeling this risk taking has had a snowball effect with the students and staff I am lucky to serve beside each day. Leading Like a PIRATE has become my new way of life.

5. As an educator, what are you currently focused on?

I am currently focused on collaboratively building a school that students, staff and families are running into each day rather than running out of. My leadership GPS is set on being passionate, relentless, inspirational, hardworking and immersed and I reflect on those words daily. I am forever growing and learning as a leader so that I can provide stellar service to the great students, staff and families of our school.


Beth Houf is a middle school principal passionate about innovative and transformational leadership to maximize school culture and student and staff learning. Beth is an eMINTS (enhancing Missouri’s Instructional Networked Teaching Strategies) trained educator. She is a facilitator for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Leadership Academy, providing monthly professional development to state educational leaders through the integration of 21st century learning skills. Beth has been a featured presenter at conferences throughout the country. Follow Beth on Twitter @BethHouf or through her blog

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