Anglo hopeful in hispanic area

Discussion in 'Job Seekers' started by burgandy01, Oct 3, 2015.

  1. burgandy01

    burgandy01 Rookie

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    Oct 3, 2015

    I can't help but feel I'm having a hard time getting a job because I'm not hispanic.

    Where I live it's almost 'expected' that you speak spanish.

    In certain areas you're even greeted at the stores in spanish. I look at the staff of teachers and 98% are hispanic.

    Don't get me wrong---I think very highly of the hispanic culture and married a Mexican (have hispanic last name on paper) but can't help but think this aspect limits me.

    1) Even in monolingual positions, they probably want you to speak spanish since many of the students' parents don't speak English.

    2) I can't 'relate' to my students since I'm anglo, (This reason I think is ridiculous but it's still one I've heard).

    For various reasons (I wont go into detail about) I can't move elsewhere. Also, I'm trying to learn Spanish---believe me.

    I feel students benefit most when they have teachers of various backgrounds and am frustrated by this.

    Is my assumption accurate?? I really do feel that generally speaking I interview well.
     
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  3. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Oct 3, 2015

    Without knowing the specific vibe of this district, I have no idea if your assumption is accurate. My gut feeling is that you are reading way too much into things. It may be useful to speak Spanish in a school where most families speak Spanish, but if it's not listed as a requirement on the job posting then it very likely isn't a requirement.

    It's difficult to get a job in many parts of the country. Focus less on the things you can't control and more on what you can. Write a strong resume and build connections with people who can help you get a job. Practice your interview skills.
     
  4. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Oct 3, 2015

    I also think you're thinking too much into this. I'm "white" (hate the term by the way) and not even American, but European with an accent and I teach English to English native speakers. How twisted is that? Well turns out, it's not lol. I also don't speak Spanish, and in this town 75% of the population is Hispanic and the nearby city is about 50%.

    Like Caesar said, if Spanish isn't a requirement, then it's most likely not holding you back.
    At my school 90% of the students are Hispanic yet not one teacher speaks Spanish. We have the office staff and several others (some of the aides, other staff) that speak it and can translate. At our sister school, juvenile hall, we have 4 teachers and none of them are Hispanic nor speak Spanish. It doesn't matter. There is one TA who does.

    So don't think it matters, you might be limiting yourself with these thoughts.
     
  5. Helicase

    Helicase New Member

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    Oct 3, 2015

    During my time teaching, I have taught in all predominantly (85%+) Hispanic schools and communities.

    When it comes to hiring, usually more than anything else, they're looking to see if you are comfortable/knowledgeable about teaching ELL. If you're not fluent in Spanish, and show no evidence of your experience or knowledge of ELL needs then that might be hurting you. If you don't have any prior experience working with ELL students, perhaps related volunteer work would assist if you can do that. If not, I'd advise if you haven't already, make sure to get your SEI or ESL endorsement/certificate (depending on your state's requirements). That is almost essential in a community where the schools have a high number of students with a minimal English background.

    Each of the positions I've applied for and/or hired at, always ask/mention these things:

    1) Are you fluent you in Spanish? Are you comfortable with a translator?
    2) Have you completed your SEI training?
    3) Have you taught ELL/ESL students before? If yes, what were your experiences?
    4) What accommodations can you/would you make for ELL/ESL students?
    5) Are you familiar with the culture?

    Generally for myself, being white in appearance, in name there is no getting around these questions that can seem initially like an instant disqualification.

    Most of the principals, have told me that their #1 goal is hiring a confident candidate that will try to communicate with the students/parents, has a working knowledge of ESL methods or a strong idea of how he/she would put them into practice, and that they're not going to act alienated due to cultural differences.

    I know a couple of principals/HR people that after awhile have told me that sometimes they're a little unsure about non-Hispanic candidates initially because they've had teachers who sounded good on paper, got them in the classroom, they felt overwhelmed teaching the ELL students, and ran off mid semester. Not sure how common that actually is, but that is what I was told.

    Again, not sure of your background here, but just going to assume you're a new teacher I'd provide the following additional advice:

    1) Research effective methods used in classrooms (at your grade level) to help ELL/ESL students. Things like thematic units, balanced literacy approaches, visual aid use, hands-on/project learning, etc... any positive differentiation that assists them and is realistic.
    2) Use these concepts/ideas/terminology in your application materials and your interview. Emphasize your knowledge.
    3) Express your interest in professional development opportunities geared towards ELL/ESL or any planned independent PD you're going to involve yourself in (e.g. SEI or ESL courses/certificates)
    4) Emphasize (if it is the truth) that you're going to stick it out to the bitter end. You're not going to turn tail and run from a challenge if it arises, and you'd like a mentor who is proficient that you can learn from.
    5) If you're familiar with Hispanic culture, let them know. Let them know you're comfortable and it isn't going to be a sudden, massive culture shock to you. If you've lived a long time in predominantly Hispanic communities and enjoyed it, tell them so. Let them know you like it, it will be an excellent opportunity, and want to give back to the community.
    6) If you intend to learn Spanish in a formal environment (college courses or community center offerings for example), have them acknowledge that on your resume/cover letter/interview.

    Now that I've said all this, not all work environments are the same. I have once ran into a principal who vehemently detested the prospect of me being hired in her school due to being white and she made no bones about my interview being strictly for the purpose of "demographic quotas". In another position, after I was hired, I had a VP that made a fuss trying to rile everyone up, stating that a "white girl from Texas can't properly educate Latino/a youth", despite the fact I had a great rapport with the kids, improved test scores, and received stellar evaluations from everyone else he could never get over it and remained miffed for years.

    Can't please everyone and sometimes there will be resistance. Yet, out of all the schools and communities I've been to, those were the only administrator problems I've ran into.

    Depending on what is available, if you're having problems getting hired into the local public schools, charter schools and private schools may be a good option. Charter schools aren't usually a long term solution for many, but they are a great way to get your foot in the door if you're a new teacher needing experience.
     
  6. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    Oct 3, 2015

    If you live in deep south Texas, then it probably is an unspoken requirement to speak Spanish.

    If you can sub, maybe that will help you get your foot in the door.

    Can you afford to teach at private schools?
     
  7. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Oct 3, 2015

    If you think Spanish is really holding you back, maybe you can take a college course in Spanish. I took Spanish 1 at a community college last year, to be able to communicate with parents and to earn credits for pay advancement. I was actually comfortable enough to call parents. The way I did it was to have everything written down, different phrases, but I also knew enough to understand the basics and knew enough grammar to not just read off of the paper.

    So if I was going to an interview I could say that no, I'm not fluent in Spanish by any means, but I do have enough skills to communicate with parents, and have a basic understanding of the language so I know what the students are facing when learning English. I don't have to know Spanish to teach these students because the teacher should always speak in the target language. What is really important is to understand and appreciate their culture.
    I think with responses like these you can overcome their bias or doubts about you.
     
  8. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    Oct 3, 2015

    I will say that I am 100% certain that my ability to speak Spanish has helped me land my three jobs in the USA. So yes, the fact you can't speak Spanish may be holding you back. But I doubt they won't hire you because you aren't Hispanic.

    If you feel confident enough in your Spanish I'd say write either "beginner level Spanish" or "intermediate level Spanish" on your resume. It shows that you do have some sort of knowledge and that you are trying to learn more.

    Have you done any traveling to Spanish speaking countries? Maybe throw that in your resume or cover letter as well so that you can show you do understand the culture and are well immersed in it.
     
  9. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Oct 4, 2015

    I'm Hispanic, my last name is very white, but my grandfather was 100% spanish, so by most definitions of the word, I am hispanic. Don't speak much in the way of Spanish. My mother looks very spanish - she works in a job where she interacts with the public frequently. People who speak spanish will walk up to her, start speaking at her in Spanish, then she has to say "Lo siento, no habla espanol." and she just gets an odd look from the people, because they assume that because she looks spanish, that she speaks it.
     
  10. TeachCafe

    TeachCafe Comrade

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    Oct 4, 2015

    Depends on where you are in Texas. You sound like you're in deep Rio Grande border Texas....as in follow the river on down.

    Unless the position advertised in bilingual Spanish isn't a requirement. There will be enough people are your school to converse with parents who don't speak English. A few of my parents don't....or at least one doesn't, the other does so it works. If I need a call translated I recruit a coworker.
     
  11. Boba

    Boba Companion

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    Oct 10, 2015

    No, you aren't wrong for thinking that. It tends to be something people don't like to address because it makes many people look like are whining due to "white privilege". I believe I didn't get many jobs in my field largely because I am not bilingual. In much of CA, saying you are bilingual triumphs over experience, grades, and interview. Knowing some Spanish isn't good enough. They want you to be able to speak Spanish to parents so they don't need to grab someone in the office or hire a translator.

    One of the schools I work at (as a counselor) is almost all Hispanic. Very few counselors were Spanish speakers on the list so I was lucky to get a job. I am the coordinator for SSTs (we have 30 kids on the list). Of the 30, 20 have Spanish listed as the home language. Because of that, I have to have someone in the office to call 20 parents up and for someone to translate in the meetings.
     

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