How does one become a High School Russian teacher
September 28, 2012 2:40 PM   Subscribe

How do I go about getting hired for a position that doesn't exist: a High School Russian teacher?

The job exists, or so there has been a precedence for such a position at other schools. In fact, the College Board has been developing and testing an AP Russian Culture and Language test. What I want to do, is approach high schools, and make the case that they should offer a Russian language class to their students, and that I would be a fitting candidate for teaching.

Now, how do I got about doing that? Let's say I have a CV; and a cover letter detailing the reasons for why the Russian language should be taught and my own credentials; and a complete syllabus for the course, serving as a beginning proposal.

Do I send an email to the employment address, if they have one - some don't, or do I give them a call? If I send an email, how should I start? I'm personally inclined to just shove all my documents out to them and let them get back to me if they're interested, but I can see how this could be seen as too forward or desperate.

For what it's worth, I'm a senior at university preparing for my Spring graduation. I am also aware of my university's career services, and am going to get in touch with them about this and other things.
posted by SollosQ to Work & Money (20 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The way I got my job in teaching was to send my CV and a cover letter asking how one would switch from the corporate world to teaching, and what would be the roadmap for certification. Within a week, my phone was rining off the hook with offers.

I think that what you've outlined has a real chance of succeeding, especially if you're willing to do mornings in one school and afternoons in another.

You might also want to think about magnet middle schools and charter schools, as they're always looking for interesting classes to offer.

Don't start and stop with one, approach many.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:50 PM on September 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


Another thing you might want to do is see if there are any Federal, State or Private grants out there for such a thing. If so, apply for the grant, get your money, THEN approach the schools.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:50 PM on September 28, 2012

I'm a bit scattered, it's been a week.

I sent it to the School Board in my community. They had an address on the website. Snail mail.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:51 PM on September 28, 2012

Have you looked at prep schools? The one I went to offered Russian, Mandarin, and Japanese.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 2:52 PM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

And, here's a resource.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:53 PM on September 28, 2012

Also try searching around for magnet language schools specifically. I don't know how common they are, but they do exist.
posted by brilliantine at 2:53 PM on September 28, 2012

And another.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:54 PM on September 28, 2012

Some regions have established Russian programs already (and are frequently hiring Russian teachers, which is a fairly rare skillset). I know that Anchorage, Alaska has a Russian immersion program and I believe a Russian language track at a few high schools. Maybe try looking at other areas with lots of Russian history / presence?
posted by charmcityblues at 2:58 PM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

School boards in most places in the US approve hires but the principal does the hiring. Send your proposal to the principal of the schools.
posted by tamitang at 3:00 PM on September 28, 2012

Yeah, if you are in a large metro area I would try private schools instead of public; my school offered something like 13 languages.
posted by elizardbits at 3:11 PM on September 28, 2012

Take a look at charter schools. I have a friend currently teaching Russian at a charter high school. Her school only offers one foreign language, and chose Russian so as not to provide an advantage to students who are heritage speakers of more commonly taught foreign languages.
posted by amelioration at 4:20 PM on September 28, 2012

I work at one of the aforementioned Anchorage schools with a Russian immersion track, which freqently has tough-to-fill ppenings. So, as I seem to be saying around here a *lot* lately, if you're up for an adventure...

If you're not, though, you might look and see if districts near you have an administrative head of world languages at the district level, or a world languages curriculum coordinator at the district level. They are likely to a) have an idea about how to start a language program at a high school b) be enthusiastic about helping you make some forays c) have more time and inclination to answer your e-mails than your average high school principal.
posted by charmedimsure at 4:40 PM on September 28, 2012

Google reveals that Langley High School in McLean, VA ( a public school) teaches Russian. Maybe get in touch with the Russian teacher there and ask him/her what the rationale is for teaching it, how he/she got the job and if he/she knows of any other schools around the country that offer similar programs.
posted by blue_bicycle at 5:17 PM on September 28, 2012

The Los Angeles school district offered Russian in the mid-80's; I'm sure schools for gifted children will still do the same.
posted by brujita at 6:07 PM on September 28, 2012

American Councils did a study of Russian being taught in American high schools last year. That document would be a good start for knowing the state of things.

Do you have your teaching certification?
posted by k8t at 7:12 PM on September 28, 2012

This position absolutely exists at schools across the country. If you want to start looking for positions in places where you're most likely to find Russian language being taught already, check out magnet schools and charter schools that have a language/culture theme to them.
posted by yellowcandy at 8:07 PM on September 28, 2012

Yeah, private schools. Here's the thing though -- you'll make less and shitty benefits compared to a public schools teacher (I know, I know, public education in America is under assault but still).

But it's very easy to just send your resume in to these places. They don't require certification. However, you'll be competing against people with MA's in their field of expertise and a surprising (to me) number of PhDs.

I'd consider graduate school for Russian or Education.
posted by bardic at 4:28 AM on September 29, 2012

You might also contact people who run language magnet schools and ask for their advice (or a job, if you are interested in getting your teaching certificate and teaching in an established program). For example, Bellaire high school in Houston offers Russian. You can find the contact info for their Magnet Coordinator on this page and a lot of additional information about the HISD magnet programs (Bellaire high school is part of HISD) here. Within that same magnet school program, there is also an elementary school (Kolter Elementary) that focuses on languages -- in their case, it's Mandarin, French, Japanese, and Spanish, but they might have good advice especially if you want a teaching certificate for the younger grades.
posted by Houstonian at 10:32 AM on September 29, 2012

Also, a word about timing. Schools don't just start up programs willy-nilly, and now is a particularly difficult time to get funding for even some of the very basic things (at least in Texas). Don't be discouraged if you don't get an immediate "Yes!" on a new plan for a new course without a curriculum already established, by a person who has not done this yet. A year ago they laid off a lot of teachers, and the budget may or may not be improved for the next school year.

Also maybe specific to Texas but maybe not: Who you know is pretty important to even landing a job. You'll need a teaching certificate as a minimum, plus get all the other credentials together (for example, starting this school year all teachers in my area must get ESL certifications). You might also substitute teach while working toward your bigger goals, just to gain some experience, make sure you like teaching high schoolers (not everyone does), and get to know people.

Not trying to bring you down, but trying to prepare you for some realities.
posted by Houstonian at 10:56 AM on September 29, 2012

I've never heard of a school district offering anything other than Spanish, French, and German. I know it happens, but in reality most of the people I went to high school with took a language because they had too. Well, that and Japanese wasn't offered. But I was/am friends with a lot of nerds.

That isn't to say it can't happen. But Houstonian is right, schools aren't exactly in a position to start spending extra money. Hell, my high school shut down the German program within a few years of my graduation. They just stopped offering German 1, then moved up the chain.

Once you ID who you need to talk to, I'd try an approach where you bring up the idea of traveling between schools. The Rock Hill, SC schools do this for a few things. But it helps that the schools are all pretty close together.

You'll also run into the problem where there won't be enough kids who will want to take the class, and that those who do want to take it can actually fit it in their schedule.

I'm not trying to be all negative. I just don't see the need to repeat all the good stuff people have said above me.
posted by theichibun at 3:32 PM on September 29, 2012

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