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  #1  
Old 05-16-2012, 11:43 AM
JohnT JohnT is offline
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Letter of Recommendation for a teacher - any advice?

For idiotic reasons too stupid for me to go into, our daughter's wonderful 4th-grade teacher did not get her contract renewed for the upcoming year. She has asked me to write a letter of recommendation, which I've done plenty of in my life, but not for this specific profession.

So, I was wondering if there are specific words or phrases I should use which will get a potential employers attention. I can write something about how my daughter blossomed in her class but that sounds... lacking.

Thanks in advance for the tips!
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  #2  
Old 05-16-2012, 01:34 PM
JohnT JohnT is offline
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All right, here's what I banged out over the past 10 minutes:

Quote:
To Whom It May Concern:


My wife and I are writing to express our strong recommendation for Ms. X in her potential new role in your organization.

In the year that she was our daughter’s teacher, we have observed the following work habits:

1. Since Sophia (our daughter) has entered school 5 years ago, Ms. X has easily been the most responsive teacher we have had the pleasure of working with. Regardless of the form communication: emails, phone calls, or parent-teacher meetings, Ms. X answered our questions quickly, with no delay.

2. Based upon her Iowa test scores, Sophia’s academic growth has been outstanding, with significant gains in those subjects taught by Ms. X.

3. Above all, Ms. X demonstrated a willingness to modify her teaching methods based on her class’s needs and personalities, with no “ego” on her part about preferred teaching styles.

That last point, in our opinion, is what sets Ms. X above many of her contemporaries. For example, in the very beginning of the school year, many of the students were having problems with a particular reading-log format. Instead of insisting that the children “get it”, and possibly causing some emotional/educational harm with such an attitude, Ms. X redesigned the form so that it both (a) sought the same information as the original document, and (b) was far, far easier for the kids (and some parents!) to understand.

Again we recommend, with no reservations, X to your organization and strongly believe that she will be an excellent addition to your staff.

Signed, & etc...
Eh, it's OK. Any teachers/educators want to chime in on what they would like to have on their LOR?
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  #3  
Old 05-16-2012, 01:42 PM
Left Hand of Dorkness Left Hand of Dorkness is online now
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That sounds pretty great. True, it doesn't use any of the key educational buzzwords like "differentiation" and "experiential" and "research-based methods"; on the other hand, I kind of think that that'd be an advantage. The use of buzzwords by a parent might look like the teacher had written the letter for you.

When you talk about scores on tests, that points toward research-based methods, sort of: the teacher is clearly using methods that work according to the most important structural assessment of her efficacy.

When you talk about her willingness to modify her approach, that's sort of like differentiation, albeit on a whole-class level. Have there been any ways in which she changes instruction for your daughter in particular? Does your kid get a different spelling list from others? Get different projects? Get different math assignments? Anything like that is a really good sign that she's tailoring instruction to the needs of individual students.

There's also the question of engagement. A good teacher leaves students excited about their learning. Does your daughter come home from school talking about what she did that day? Does she use concepts she picked up in class in her daily life? Does she bust out with facts about electromagnetism at weird moments? Does she get excited about something that's going to happen, academically, that day or week? Any of these are signs of a teacher who creates strong student engagement in their learning.
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Old 05-16-2012, 01:54 PM
JohnT JohnT is offline
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That's a good point about the use of buzzwords.

Sophia doesn't get special assignments, but she is pretty bright and doesn't need a lot of individualized teaching approaches. We work with her quite a bit, which helps alleviate a lot of confusion, I'm sure.

In regards to engagement, we're (especially my wife) kind of in the "Tiger Parent" mold, so we don't wait for Sophia to tell us about her day - we ask. Sophie does bring up things that she's learned all the time, but she isn't bubbling with excitement about what she learned in school - she's bubbling with excitement to see her friends, jump in the pool, etc.

My wife liked the letter and asked that I add one more item to the list:

Quote:
In response to a potential bullying situation in the beginning of the year, Ms. X acted decisively and properly: she talked to the students, involved the school administration, and stopped it so effectively that there have been no more incidents since then.

Last edited by JohnT; 05-16-2012 at 01:54 PM..
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  #5  
Old 05-16-2012, 08:18 PM
Hippy Hollow Hippy Hollow is offline
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Former teacher now in higher ed. I do think that it's a fine letter, but one thing you might consider is delineating why you have an opinion that should matter (are you a PTA, school advisory committee member, etc.?). Also, can you point to other parents who feel she is a great teacher as well? ("I know many parents appreciate Ms. X's engagement with parents," etc.). Last, I think if you can give her a high accolade, like "School Y is an excellent learning community with caring and professional teachers. Even among this exemplary group, Ms. X stands out. She is easily in the top five teachers I have interacted/observed/had as my child's teacher." (You know what I'm getting at, wordsmith it out.)
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  #6  
Old 05-16-2012, 08:52 PM
cynyc cynyc is offline
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Um. Here are some buzzwords"

ABle to control a classroom.

Appears to understand compliance.

Is in continuing ed for ed?

NEVER LATE.

Great at soothing parents concerns about the MGT. principal--but subtley somehow: SHe's got your ass covered Mo Fo.
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  #7  
Old 05-17-2012, 11:41 AM
JohnT JohnT is offline
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Thanks for the suggestions, everybody. If you're interested, here is the final letter:

Quote:
Being extremely involved parents in the school community, my wife and I are glad to give our strong recommendation for Ms. X in her potential new role in your organization. At a school with many excellent teachers, Ms. X stood out.

In the year that she was our daughter’s teacher, we have observed the following work habits:

1. Since Sophia (our daughter) has entered school 5 years ago, Ms. X has easily been the most responsive teacher we have had the pleasure of working with. Regardless of the form of communication: emails, phone calls, or parent-teacher meetings, Ms. X answered our questions quickly, with no delay.

2. Based upon her Iowa test scores, Sophia’s academic growth has been outstanding, with significant gains in those subjects taught by Ms. X.

3. In response to a potential bullying situation in the beginning of the year, Ms. X acted decisively and properly: she talked to the students, involved the school administration, and stopped it so effectively that there have not been any more incidents since then.

4. Above all, Ms. X demonstrated a willingness to modify her teaching methods based on her class’s needs and personalities, with no “ego” on her part about preferred teaching styles.

That last point, in our opinion, is what sets Ms. X above many of her contemporaries. For example, in the very beginning of the school year, many of the students were having problems with a particular reading-log format. Instead of insisting that the children “get it”, and possibly causing some emotional/educational harm with such an attitude, Ms X redesigned the form so that it both (a) sought the same information as the original document, and (b) was far, far easier for the kids (and some parents!) to understand.

Again we recommend, with no reservations, X to your organization and strongly believe that she will be an excellent addition to your staff. Feel free to reach us at the above phone numbers/email addresses if you have any questions.

Thank you,
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