The Beat has interviewed Master Teachers across the district to share their stories and introspections about their careers, including tips for teaching. Meet Master Teacher Flor Mendez Gonzalez.
Flor Mendez Gonzalez, a master teacher at Annie Webb Blanton Elementary School, has been a teacher for 20 years, 11 of them at Dallas ISD. Before coming to the district, she was in Monterrey, Mexico, teaching at a private school when one of her colleagues told her about the Dallas ISD Visa Program, which offers the options of the H-1B visa and the J-1 Exchange Visitor Teacher Program.
She sent an email inquiring about the teaching opportunity, and the next day, she received a link to the application. Thus began the first step in her journey to become a teacher at Dallas ISD.
What drew you to education?
I was drawn to education because it has always been part of my family’s legacy. My mother was a teacher, and I witnessed firsthand the positive impact she had on her students’ lives. Her passion for teaching and the stories she shared about her classroom experiences inspired me to follow in her footsteps. Additionally I’ve always had a deep love for learning and sharing knowledge.
How are you creating opportunities for students?
I recognize that creating opportunities for students as a teacher at the elementary level goes beyond the classroom. It involves nurturing their personal and academic growth to prepare them for a successful future, so I’m always looking for ways to innovate and adapt my teaching methods to best serve their needs. I think one of the best ways I create opportunities for my students is through differentiated instruction. This ensures that all students have opportunities to succeed, regardless of their individual strengths and weaknesses. I also like to promote lifelong learning skills for my students by modeling my own love for learning, showing enthusiasm for reading new books and sharing my own learning experiences while I encourage my students to pursue knowledge beyond the classroom.
What is your best teaching tip?
Teachers have a lot of responsibilities. After all these years in the profession, my advice would be to prioritize building strong relationships with your students. Establishing a positive and supportive classroom environment can significantly enhance their learning experience. Take time to learn about your students’ interests, backgrounds and learning styles. Your students would know that you really care about them and motivate them to do their best.
What would your students be surprised to find out about you?
I share a lot of personal experiences with my students, but I think they would be surprised to know that I did my student teacher internship at the University Language Center, and I got to be the English teacher of adults that were more than 20 years older than me. Some of them were professors at the University. It was overwhelming at first but I learned a lot, and I loved it!
What inspires you the most about being an educator?
The profound impact I can have on my students’ lives is what inspires me the most. Witnessing the transformation from the moment they enter my classroom to their graduation is incredibly rewarding. Seeing a student overcome challenges, grasp complex concepts, or find their voice is a constant reminder of the power of education. Being at the same school for over seven years gives me the opportunity to see some former students at family events. When they approach me to tell me that they’re still using in middle school a strategy I taught them in third grade or that they still remember when we read Matilda as a reading project, it makes me feel that I’m at the right place.