A short conversation with…Dave Meister @phsprincipal
How long have you been teaching?
I have been an educator for 22 years. I began my career by teaching U.S. History, World History, European History and Psychology at the high school level for nine years. During that time I worked as the Social Studies Department chairperson for three years. After leaving the classroom I served for three years as an elementary principal, eight years as a high school principal and as the director of a high school cooperative the last two years.
Has your educational philosophy changed since you began teaching?
The one constant in my teaching philosophy is that I love being around kids. There is nothing better than a little playful banter between myself and a group of students. At the beginning of my teaching career I was very content oriented. I believed that my mission was to promote citizenship and awareness mankind’s story over time. I was very much the sage on the stage and believed I had to “perform” to engage and teach my students. I taught like my favorite history teachers and simply knew of no other way to do it. As I matured as a teacher I began to realize that most students did not gain much from the way I taught, if fact most just practiced memorizing information and writing back to me using the same words I lectured them with. After this epiphany, I began to use more of a project based approach in my classroom. I let the student be responsible for getting the information and during class time we worked together to construct meaning and create new understanding. In short, when I started I believed classroom activity revolved around the teacher, today I believe everything needs to revolve around the learner.
Has Twitter played a role in your evolution as a teacher? If so, how?
Twitter has become a very important tool for me as an educator. I really have benefited from the constant stream of ideas, resources, and intriguing dialog about teaching and learning. I will state that the use of Twitter has fundamentally changed my practice as an educator in that it is is always there/on, challenging me to think about what I do.
What’s the best advice you have received as a teacher (or can give to a new teacher)?
Be able to look in the mirror and say to yourself “I did the right thing(s) for my students today.”
Dave blogs here.