Master teacher Michael Chang first came to Dallas ISD in 2018 to teach fourth grade math and science at Annie Webb Blanton Elementary School, where he continues to impact students’ lives. Prior to coming to the district, he taught math and science in Tulsa, Okla., and is now in his 10th year as an educator. He is originally from Manitowoc, Wis., and graduated from Marquette University in 2014.
What drew you to education?
Born and raised by immigrant parents in a low-income family, I was always told by my mother that education was the key to breaking the cycle of poverty in which my parents and grandparents lived. My junior high school principal once told me that she hopes I come back home after college and give back to my community. I was blessed to have had teachers and sports coaches who provided me with the support that led me to be the first in my family to graduate from college. Although I did not move back home after college, I believe I was drawn to teaching as my way of giving back to the community in which I serve. It takes just one teacher to make a meaningful difference in a student’s outlook on life. If I can be that teacher for my students, I will have fulfilled my duty as a teacher and my role as a changemaker.
How are you creating opportunities for your students?
I create a safe space for my students to be honest and vulnerable with themselves, in order for them to grow as a student and as a child with goals. I work closely with them to set social and academic goals. Then, I instill in them a growth mindset to be able to handle mistakes and setbacks and view them as opportunities for growth.
What is your best teaching tip?
Building strong relationships precedes students’ social and academic growth and success. Take the time to talk to students outside of instructional time. Ask them questions and watch their curiosity peak. Listen and show interest in what they share with you. Follow through with the things you tell your students you will do. Doing so will lead them to perceive you as someone they can trust, and thus they will feel cared for and heard. If students respect you as their teacher in the classroom, they will want to learn anything from you
What would your students be surprised to find out about you?
In the spring of 2017, I was featured on Fox 23 News in Tulsa for receiving the Golden Apple Award. This award recognizes teachers who display commitment and excellence. I share the video with my students at the beginning of every school year to set the tone–that if they put forth their best effort and strive for growth, they will have the mindset and habits to be successful beyond my fourth-grade class.
What inspires you the most about being an educator?
What inspires me the most about being an educator is the daily opportunity I have to bring positivity and joy to my students despite how they may be feeling or going through outside the confines of school. They spend a third of their day at school, so if I can make their day better, then that’s an opportunity I will always take.