Teaching at Mayatan
Mayatan Bilingual School presents an opportunity for native English-speaking teachers to live and work in a tightly-knit Honduran community. Teaching at Mayatan can be both highly challenging and highly rewarding; if you are interested in joining our community, we request that you carefully review the information below before submitting your application materials.
Who We Are Looking For
Mayatan hires competitively for our teaching positions. At minimum, all of our teachers must possess a bachelor's degree, have experience teaching or tutoring in some capacity, and demonstrate a dedication to living and working abroad for at least a year. While we accept candidates from any background and life stage, we strongly prefer candidates with teaching degrees, certification, and classroom experience in their subject area. Because our foreign teachers teach in English, Spanish language skills are not required.
Teachers commit to a minimum of one year teaching kindergarten, a primary-level grade (1-6) or a range of subjects at the secondary and high school levels (7-12).
Being a teacher at Mayatan Bilingual School is for independent, self-guided, self-reliant individuals who are capable of making the best of limited resources and adapting to circumstances. It is a full-time commitment, not a vacation, but it can be more fulfilling than even the best days off.
Teachers work at either primary (K-6) or secondary (7-12) levels. There are about 18 foreign teaching volunteers at any given time, although this changes with enrollment and as our high school program expands. Please see our curriculum pages for more information.
Although you will find support from your primary or secondary school director and your fellow teachers, you will often have to guide yourself. Some courses will have reliable textbooks and curricula; others, particularly at the secondary and high school level, will involve new textbooks or no textbooks at all and will require the teachers to decide upon what is taught.
Primary school teachers will teach a classroom by themselves for most of the day. They will have up to 25 students, per school policy. Some grades have one classroom and teacher, and others may be split into A and B sections who team-teach by dividing up subjects. Kindergarten and first grade teachers have Honduran teaching assistants. The other grades have Honduran counterparts to teach certain classes in Spanish, such as Civics. Primary teachers have their own classrooms. Expect to plan for at least 5 different class periods a day, although team teachers may teach two sections of the same class. Primary school students have breaks for recess and lunch.
Secondary and high school teachers will teach one or more subjects and may share classrooms. Students take a variety of courses at a time (often 10+), and teachers often wear multiple hats to cover this. For example, one teacher may teach literature, anthropology, and art history; another will teach multiple science or math classes; another may teach grammar; and still another may teach a math subject, gym, and computer skills. Expect to plan for at least 4-5 different class periods a day; you may also supervise online courses from the University of Missouri High School. All of secondary school has a lunch break at the same time, and teachers may have several free periods during the day. Some secondary and high school classes are taught in Spanish by Honduran teachers.
All teachers must grade student tests, quizzes, activities, and homework assignments; create lesson plans; record attendance; complete report cards; perform homeroom, recess (primary), and lunch duties; write year-long plans; meet with parents when requested; and complete student evaluations, report cards, and progress reports.
School days follow and American calendar: Monday through Friday, from late August through mid-June.
The Mayatan school day runs from 7:00 a.m. to 1:45 (primary) or 2:30 (secondary and high school). Teachers must be at school by 6:45 in the morning and stay until 3:00 in the afternoon. Most teachers find that they have to arrive earlier and stay later to plan lessons, grade, and tutor students, and they generally report the weekly workload as 50 hours or more.
Mayatan observes a number of national holidays with vacation days. There is a two week break that begins over Christmas and the New Year during which all teachers must leave the CA-4 immigration area at their own expense to renew their 90 day visas (Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua).
We have a economically and socially diverse population of 330 students. While we highlight our scholarship program on this website, we would like to emphasize here that over half of our student body pays full tuition. We have poor students, middle-class students, and students who are wealthy by Honduran and American standards.
Mayatan is one of the few spaces in Honduras that brings together children from different class backgrounds and unites them socially and under the same cause. We teach students that they are in it together, that they are worthy no matter where they come from, and that they are all capable of success. We foster relationships that go beyond the extreme class segregation that is prevalent throughout Honduras.
Student Attitudes Towards Learning and School
Kids are kids everywhere. Some love to learn; others are reluctant. Mayatan is no different. In general, students are respectful and eager to learn. Teachers at Mayatan have to be aware of cultural differences in the classroom as well as the fact that teachers are visiting for one year. Often, teachers will find that problems they encounter in the classroom have to do with cultural differences in method and expectation, not to mention the language barrier.
Remember, our students are learning in a second language and a second culture. Honduran cultural norms about noise-levels, body language, and time are different from those in American culture. Likewise, the teaching practices of our Honduran staff will be different than what is customary in the United States. Being a successful teacher at Mayatan will often mean acceptaing and adapting to these differences.
The school is secular, but most of the families are either Catholic or Evangelical Christian, and the community tends to be very religious. It is common to hear parents or students bring up religion in everyday conversation or in the classroom. Escuela Mayatan expects teachers, whatever their religious affiliations, to respect the differing religions points of view of our students.
Instruction in Spanish
Escuela Mayatan expects foreign teachers to teach in English and we require that you speak English while at school in your interactions with students and English-speaking Honduran staff.
Teacher Dress and Behavior
The most important thing to remember is that, in a small town like Copán, the teachers at Mayatan don't just reflect the school--they are the school, especially as far as the townspeople are concerned. Everyone in town will know who you are, even if you don't know them.
Honduran norms for dress are different than in the United States and Canada -- more conservative in some ways; more liberal in others. Ratty, disheveled, stained, ripped, and old clothing are looked down upon, as is unkempt hair and facial hair. Women rarely expose their legs in Copán Ruinas but may wear tight-fitting clothing or tops that might be considered revealing in the U.S. Men rarely wear shorts, and never at work, and usually wear dress shoes to work, tuck in their shirts, and wear a belt. It is important for Mayatan Bilingual School's relations with parents and with the community that our faculty respect local standards of proper attire and grooming.
Teachers will be provided with four school polo shirts and you will be expected to wear these shirts with trousers or skirts Monday through Thursday. These shirts may not arrive until several weeks into the school year, so come prepared with appropriate clothing for the first few weeks. Fridays are "casual" days. You will probably want to bring one dressy outfit for special occasions, ie., graduations.
The school would prefer no visible piercing (other than, for women, earrings or a discreet nose pin) and no dreadlocks. Hondurans associate dreads with drug use and consider them unhygienic. Tattoos are also frowned upon by local people and will need to be kept covered during work.
The school supplies classroom furnishings, construction paper, dry erase pens, poster paper, etc. The students are required to bring their own school supplies and a grade level list is sent home at the beginning of the school year. In some cases, the school may assist families with the purchase of materials.
Many teachers bring posters and other visual aids and teaching materials to supplement their teaching and classrooms. Often, previous teachers leave teaching materials they have provided and these add to our collection of available teaching resources.
Although we have a growing library, there are no bookstores in Copán Ruinas. If you have favorite books and reference materials or needed supplies and decorations, we suggest bringing them with you. We also suggest you bring adhesives like sticky tack and foam tape that will cling to our concrete walls.
Mayatan's campus is technologically well-equipped: we have desktop and laptop computers for our students' use, and wireless internet across campus. We intend our supply of laptops for the use of our students; therefore, we highly recommend bringing a laptop computer of your own for preparing lessons, researching, and grading.
In the spring, the directors of the primary and secondary schools will meet with each teacher to discuss the teacher’s plans for the next year. We encourage teachers to remain more than one year and will provide additional salary for the second year.