Limiting Rec Letters?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by TrademarkTer, Mar 12, 2018.

  1. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Devotee

    Jul 28, 2017
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    Mar 12, 2018

    For the past couple years, I've taught mostly all juniors. (I've had around 120 juniors per year.) Last year I found myself writing 40-50 college rec letters. I actually somewhat enjoy writing the rec letters, but completing 40-50 of them (and doing a good/thorough job on them!) took a signficiant amount of time. Some teachers in my school cap the number of letters they write. (One teacher I know caps it as low as 10.) There's a small part of me that wants to limit it this year to around 20 or so. My one issue is I have a hard time saying no to a well-deserving student (I had no issues telling 2 kids last year who asked "no" because they didn't take my class very seriously), and my other issue would be how to cap it (First come, first serve? Any exceptions for exceptional students who ask once the cap is reached?)

    In actuality, I will probably just write for any well deserving student who asks, but I am curious what you do? I also like to try to make each letter unique, though there are small parts of it that I may copy and paste from letter to letter.
  3. vickilyn

    vickilyn Virtuoso

    Jul 19, 2014
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    Mar 12, 2018

    Write for the deserving students, give a brief "sorry, overbooked" to those that are much less deserving. In any graduating class about half are deserving, and half aren't. Not all will ask you specifically, so you may write fewer.
    Caesar753 likes this.
  4. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Jun 10, 2007
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    Mar 12, 2018

    I'd plan to write letters only for students whom I would recommend strongly and without reservation. If my recommendation would be any less enthusiastic, I'd encourage the student to look for a recommendation elsewhere. If the kid didn't have anyone else who could offer a better recommendation, I'd probably go ahead and do it because I'm a sucker for a sob story.
    czacza, otterpop and vickilyn like this.
  5. Always__Learning

    Always__Learning Comrade

    Aug 21, 2017
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    Mar 12, 2018

    I guess my first question would be how many students do you have and how many teachers do each of the students have? Is 40-50 the equitable share? If it is, I would write them. If it isn't, I might have a conversation with colleagues to see if others are interesting in dividing the list of kids up in some way. Are, for example, some kids getting multiple letters and picking the ones that are best or are all the letters being used? Maybe deciding among yourselves who the best reference is for a given student could save everyone some time. My wonder would be if just refusing would save time because I think the time explaining the nos might take more time than writing them in the first place.
  6. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

    Aug 10, 2010
    Likes Received:

    Mar 13, 2018

    saying no takes one second. I wouldn't feel the need to explain why. But if I did, a simple "I don't have the time, sorry."

    I'm not sure I agree with the idea of spreading out the letters amongst the staff. I know I have had some students ask me to write them letters instead of teachers they currently have. Because they don't want those teachers to write for them. There are some teachers that never get asked.

    I place a limit based on what I am comfortable doing at the time. I will not write a letter or fill out a form if the due date is within a week. Some semesters/years I am busier than others. I spend way too long writing letters and just cannot afford the time it takes to write a lot. Forty letters would kill me. I am comfortable with 10-15 and would shoot some daggers your way if you implied it wasn't enough.

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