One of the questions that always surfaces when we talk with school leaders and communities about dual language immersion education is…where do we find immersion teachers?
It’s a fair question, especially given the additional qualifications and expectations these teachers will need to meet, and the bilingual teacher shortage in general.
That’s why we’re excited to bring to you a conversation with add.a.lingua co-founder, Lilah Ambrosi, as she tackles one of the most pressing challenges facing dual language immersion program leaders: how to hire, develop, and keep a quality immersion teaching team.
Sharing insights from her background as a dual language immersion school principal, Lilah offers suggestions on hiring, investing in staff, and developing a culture of shared success.
Listen in and let us know what you think. And if you’re a leader of a dual language immersion program, we’d welcome your suggestions about things that have worked in your own teacher recruitment and development efforts.
No time to listen? No worries. Distilled for you here are 5 insights on hiring, developing and sustaining a quality immersion teaching team:
1. Network like crazy. Get the word out about your program, and be willing to look beyond the typical channels where find teachers. Developing connections with community organizations, colleges and universities can make a big difference.
2. Look for missional alignment. You want teachers that are all in on the mission of your organization. If your program espouses the belief that immersion education is for all students, and that all students can succeed–then look for teachers who share that belief and don’t quit.
3. Screen to save time. You’ll get a lot of applicants that simply aren’t prepared for success in an immersion setting, so take the time to develop a screening process will save you a lot of time in the long run. As just two examples, we encourage our partner schools to look for an advanced high to superior ACTFL OPI rating, and to note any extended periods of living abroad.
developing your team:
4. Have high expectations and invest in high quality professional learning. Find immersion specific professional development opportunities with add.a.lingua, CARLA, or CAL. Encourage networking with other immersion teachers.
sustaining your team:
5. Compensate creatively and make celebration a priority. Your immersion teachers have additional responsibilities, and so you might consider offering a stipend for their participation in professional learning above and beyond what is asked of their English track peers. When a teacher experiences some success or has a breakthrough, find a way to celebrate it and nest that celebration within the overall mission of your school in a way that lifts everyone up. Individual successes can become team victories.
If you’d like to learn more about how add.a.lingua can you help take your teaching staff to the next level through dual language immersion specific professional learning opportunities, get in touch using the form below.