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Career Connections: Multilingual Immersion Studies

7 minutes

I'm Christian Mora. I work at the Academy of Multilingual Immersion Studies as a middle school science and Spanish teacher. My name is Alma Uribe, and I am a mathematics, Spanish, and social studies teacher. I work at a Immersion Studies school, so I get to teach math and Spanish at the same time, mixed in. X minus three equals seven.

[speaking Spanish]

As a teacher, I'm responsible for them knowing the content for that year, but it's not just teaching the content. I'm responsible for their well-being, safety, their ability to understand, their progress, and their character.

(Uribe) It's more than just creating this lesson plan. I prepare them for life. I'm here to be their coach.

(Mora) I don't think anyone can ever really be ready. You can study many theories about education, but not until you have the students for that year is when you can learn. Every classroom is different. There's not one type of teacher that's just successful. There's no perfect guide to be a teacher. Even training, I feel like every day, just like students are learning, teachers are learning. So now that it's plural because, you see, las casas, we know that ellas and ellos is a plural.

(Mora) In high school, taking a class learning about people from different backgrounds, that's really important in being able to do this work. I also think a language is important. You want to communicate with others. When you learn about language, you don't just learn about saying "hi" or "bye." You learn about customs, about how they live.

(Uribe) It's important to be a student where you're like, "I want to be a Spanish teacher. "To be the best Spanish teacher, I have to be well-rounded." So not even one specific language, but if you could get maybe, say, Spanish-- Spanish is really connected to Italian, so take Italian since you already know Spanish and can learn it faster. Now you're trilingual.

(Mora) I have a minor in Spanish, and I grew up in Chicago speaking Spanish. I never really thought about teaching, but having that Spanish background pushed me to being a Spanish teacher. I want to teach others about my culture and want to embrace theirs as well.

(Uribe) To teach, you should have a degree in education and specifically, say, in math or in science. I actually studied Chicano Latino studies and political science. I was able to see what was happening with education and how the gap between minorities and the majority was increasing. From that I said, "How can I close that gap?" I could be a lawyer, a social worker, but teaching was the best way to be able to change that. Something I dislike about my job as a teacher would be sometimes seeing the students not care for their future. Sometimes you have parents who are just sending their kids to school without pushing them and making them realize how important education could be. One thing I don't like is things I can't control. I have students coming from different places, and I don't control what they feel. I can't control their actions. I can motivate, I can try to inspire, but not everyone will respond to what you say. Not everyone will listen. Since I was small, I wanted to help and wanted to change my community. I was actually the assistant coordinator for a summer bridge program. I worked with students who came from low-income communities to learn math and English. Once they started, they weren't behind anymore. I volunteered a lot around the community, so the importance of being bilingual, to communicate with parents who sometimes feel like, "I won't go a meeting because I can't communicate with the teacher." So many things helped me become a better teacher now.

(Mora) I think teaching Spanish has helped me teach science because I bring things from different cultures. And so my students, even though some aren't from a Latino background, pick up those things during class when we're learning. They think about new ways of doing things and embracing each other, coming together where we have African-Americans and Latinos in one room. I think that's huge. Being in a space where I see this, that's one of my favorite things. I was born in Long Beach, California. I was raised in a Mexican family where Spanish was the only language spoken. Growing up, I thought I had to lose this language. But now, because of me knowing Spanish, I was able to be more competitive. If I didn't have this aspect of me, then I wouldn't be who I am today. I'm huge on relationship building. I want to be a mentor, a role model. That's one thing I really like about my job, that I'm able to impact so many people. I think giving students that upper hand where they say, "Now I can speak Spanish on top of English," or in their future careers, they're able to connect with that person because of the experiences they've had in the classroom, that's really powerful.

Funding to purchase and make this educational production accessible was provided by the U.S. Department of Education:

PH: 1-800-USA-LEARN (V) or WEB: www.ed.gov.

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Two teachers at a multilingual immersion studies middle school talk about how they prepared for their careers and share the challenges and rewards they have experienced in the classroom. Part of the "Career Connections" series.

Media Details

Runtime: 7 minutes

Career Connections
Episode 1
5 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
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Episode 2
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Episode 3
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Episode 4
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Episode 5
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Episode 8
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