Blair David teaches Biology II Dual Enrollment at West Monroe High School. He is also the head of the Science Department and the director of Magnatech, which is a program at WMHS that provides students with hands-on learning experience in Math, Science, Technology, and Engineering. Mr. David has a master’s degree in entomology with a minor in environmental science. He also has a master’s degree in education.
Mr. David found the inspiration to teach from one of his college physics professors, Dr. Bonner. Dr. Bonner gave his students the opportunity to learn without the immense pressure of making excellent grades. That is exactly what Mr. David does.
When asked about the changes he’s seen in the field of education, Mr. David said he has seen both good and bad changes. Teachers are being given more tasks but not more time to fulfill these tasks. The personality of the students as a whole is changing due to media and entertainment changes. Mr. David said the COMPASS system has the potential for teachers to be observed and receive useful feedback on ways to improve, but often times it is simply seen as a method of critiquing. He believes the Common Core is useful for raising the bar for students, but, since all students aren’t the same, the standards should be more student specific. Another thing Mr. David stresses is to have his students actually think and use problem solving skills.
I asked Mr. David how he typically interacts with students inside and outside of the class. He said every student has different needs, and before learning can occur those needs must be met. Mr. David strives to provide a comfortable and suitable atmosphere for learning.
Since Mr. David has experience with college and high school level students, I asked him how he felt the communication differs between those groups. He said that he was able to communicate directly and efficiently with college students, but with high school school students they still maintain a child like maturity level. Things are easily misconstrued by the younger students, so a level of professionalism must exist while still developing relationships with them. Mr. David also says the maturity level of students in general is lower due to societal standards.
Since Mr. David teaches mostly seniors, most of his interactions with parents are face-to-face. He does use a one-way text system to notify parents and students about upcoming events, but he said, “At this stage in a kid’s academic career, they have to start taking responsibility.” The motto of MagnaTech is “My education is my responsibility.”
MagnaTech has adopted the literacy design collaborative, LDC, which involves an entire lesson designed around a single question. For example, in Mr. David’s class for the first lesson, his question was “Why do I eat?”, and the entire lesson was based on eating on a cellular level. Mr. David explained writing as a “logical sequence of thoughts”. However, Mr. David said the shortest part of his writing is the writing itself. For a proposal he recently wrote, he spent weeks making notes and finding words he wanted to use; then he spent just a few short hours actually writing.
Lastly, I asked Mr. David what advice he would give me as a student pursuing this career. “Be yourself.” was his answer. He said this is a career that should consume you. Your work is never done as a teacher because you should never stop caring.
I had a wonderful time interviewing Mr. David, and I would like to thank him for his time and cooperation.
Tatum Saucer, guest blogger