Sunday, May 31, 2015

'Tis the Season: Hiring Qualified ESOL Teachers

Hiring season is in full swing and I once again find myself busy screening potential candidates.  My principal recently attended a job fair and called me filled with glee at 9:00 at night to report about someone he met.  He thought had caught the biggest fish in the sea: a bi-lingual candidate.  I stopped my principal and inquired about the candidate's actual qualifications, beyond his language skills.

You see, my school had been burned over the summer.  I returned to school and met a teacher who had been hired while I was off in Guatemala.  I questioned his qualifications and was not surprised when he learned that his contract would not be renewed at the end of the year as he did not have the required education coursework. Upon learning of this, he immediately resigned and we were left without a teacher for several months. While the administration made excuses about why he was hired in the first place,  my answer was simple: when looking for other content area teachers we closely scrutinize coursework, experience and the completion of certification requirements.  When it comes to ESOL candidates, there seems to be a misconception that a person's ability to speak two or more languages trumps everything else.  While it can be helpful to have teachers in the building who can relate to the students on a cultural level and directly communicate with the parents, it is a disservice to hire anyone other than fully qualified individuals to work with this population.

It turned out that this particular candidate did not complete all of his certification requirements, so we elected to keep looking for candidates.  I also agreed to attend job fairs with my principal so that I can help him vet candidates early in the process.  It's still early in the hiring season and I am optimistic that we will be able to attract outstanding talent to join me in the trenches.  Do stay tuned.

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