Cover Letter Advice

Discussion in 'Job Seekers' started by meeestahclark, Sep 5, 2011.

  1. meeestahclark

    meeestahclark Rookie

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    Sep 5, 2011

    Hey guys,

    Long-time browser of the forum, first-time poster. I have been teaching for two years, and this will be my first without a job (subbing, tutoring, waiting tables to make it through). I have completely retooled my Cover Letter, and I'd love some advice! What looks good, what's weak, and what's redundant? Here it is:


    Dear ____________:

    This letter is to elaborate on the formalities of my attached résumé. What a resume often fails to communicate is the passion that one has for the work that he or she does, and I sincerely hope that my words can convey my love for teaching enough to be considered for the ____________ position through your interview process.

    I have learned and grown considerably as a teacher during my past two years as a teacher at both Hamilton Southeastern Junior High School in Indiana and Hinkley High School in Aurora, Colorado. As a teacher at Hamilton Southeastern, I worked with an affluent junior high population, developing effective but positive behavior management skills, while creating a unique and engaging English Composition curriculum.

    This past year at Hinkley High School, I acquired multiple years’ worth of experience, teaching five separate and unique subjects, including International Baccalaureate English and two levels of English as a Second Language. I have also fallen in love with the teaching of urban and disadvantaged students; it is my passion, and I want nothing more than to continue my work as an educator in an urban setting.

    My experience teaching a broad range of subjects and students, across international borders – my Student Teaching was completed in New Zealand – and American state lines is extensive for my age. However, the personal quality that distinguishes me most as a teaching candidate for ____________ is a unique ability to engage students. As any former colleague will attest, my enthusiasm for my subject is contagious, and all students are inspired to work with me to learn.

    I have the skills and experience to thrive in ___________, along with an insatiable desire to continue collaboratively learning and growing as an educator. I would appreciate the opportunity to further discuss the _________ position with you and your staff, as well as further elaborate on my attached résumé.

    Respectfully Yours,

    ---------------------------

    Thanks for the help!! :haha:
     
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  3. elateacher4life

    elateacher4life Cohort

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    Sep 6, 2011

    I like it.
     
  4. SCTeachInTX

    SCTeachInTX Fanatic

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    Sep 6, 2011

    Meestah- Good stuff here. And I mean that. As an educator, teacher, administrator... I would think, "Hmmmmmm." Something COULD be worth my trouble to look deeper and MAYBE call this person in for an interview. So, there are some good things.

    But a word of advice. Condense it. Why are you not currently employed? Mention why.... Talk about diversity, yes. But, making it seem like it is the best thing sliced bread - maybe, not so much. Teaching in a poverty area, with high crime rates, and kids that are from drug infested environments are not the things of which dreams are made. Yes, you have to have a determination and drive to do it... but making it sound like a disney world ride may come across as a bit... unrealistic. So, go back. Revamp your letter. Be honest. Be simplistic in your message which is.... "I have had varied experiences and feel capable and comfortable teaching students of differing ability levels, and in a variety of settings." Go into specifics.... Give a story about a student or group of students that you had an impact on. Be yourself. Kids from tough urban areas where gangs are a way of life, and where parents may or may not be a part of their lives... need someone real. Be that person. Let me hear YOUR voice in your cover letter. And if you do, I assure you, I will call you for an interview.
     
  5. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sep 7, 2011

    I think there's a fine line between confident and cocky, and I think you have to be careful not to cross it.

    Enthusaism is fine. But your enthusiasm for teaching inner city kids almost makes it sound as though they should be thankful you've come along to save them. Most certainly not what you want to hear if you've already been working with that same population for the last decade or two.

    And the bit about gaining several years of experience in one year: again, it's a bit off-putting. As an administrator, i would be asking what about that one year makes it so very special? You had several preps of English-- that sounds to me to be fairly typical.

    I think I would tone down the adjectives and to as the previous poster suggested-- speak more about YOU. Not your enthusiasm or your background but about you in the classroom. Tell me about a student you were able to engage, tell me about a success with an inner city kid. In other words, give me an example that illustrates all those things you're claiming. I think you'll have a lot more success if the reader says "Now THIS is a teacher I want to meet!!!"

    Best wishes.
     
  6. meeestahclark

    meeestahclark Rookie

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    Sep 7, 2011

    Thank you SO much for the advice Alice and SCTeachinTX! It's incredibly helpful to get other perspectives. I've reworded a lot, and here's what I've come up with:


    Dear ____________:

    This letter is to elaborate on the formalities of my attached résumé. What a resume often fails to communicate is the passion that one has for the work that he or she does, and I sincerely hope that my words can convey my love for teaching enough to be considered for the ____________ position through your interview process.

    I have learned and grown considerably as a teacher during my past two years at two schools in two different states, for each of which I had a one-year-only contract.

    As a teacher at HSE Junior High in Indiana, I developed effective but positive behavior management skills, while creating a unique and engaging Composition curriculum. For National Day on Writing, I led a school-wide symposium in which all of our 900 students helped create a colorful jigsaw-mural with individual poems.

    This past year at Hinkley High School, I acquired a wide range of Language Arts experience teaching five unique subjects, including International Baccalaureate English and two levels of English as a Second Language. Working with disadvantaged students taught me the rewards of teaching reluctant learners, and I often worked with individuals and groups of students both before and after school.

    My experience teaching a broad range of subjects and students, across international borders – my Student Teaching was completed in New Zealand – and American state lines is extensive. However, the personal quality that distinguishes me most as a teacher is my ability to engage all students. To teach grammar last year, I created elaborate story-lines involving Justin Bieber and Chuck Norris on a quest to learn the power of the semi-colon; students enjoy learning in my classroom because I enjoy teaching them.

    I have the skills and experience to thrive in ___________, along with an insatiable desire to continue collaboratively growing as an educator. I would appreciate the opportunity to further discuss the _________ position with you and your staff, as well as further elaborate on my attached résumé.

    Respectfully Yours,

    -----------

    ....better? Please don't hesitate to be as critical as you possibly can!
     
  7. SCTeachInTX

    SCTeachInTX Fanatic

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    Sep 7, 2011

    This is a quality cover letter. I would only go back and reword the opening. It sounds a little "flowery." I like the word choice and the personal stories in the cover letter now. With that additional tweaking, I think a district would be foolhardy not to give you the opportunity to interview. Of course as an administrator, I am still wondering... why did they let you go? Why did they not offer you a contract for more than a year? Be ready to address that question. I would ask it. Good luck! You are a quick learner! I guess that is why you teach english.
     
  8. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Sep 8, 2011

    You did say to be critical...

    Wordy, and what the heck are "the formalities"? Lead with what you're applying for.
    Please don't switch from "one" to "his or her". In addition, this is wordy: this is the wrong place for a pseudocleft. In addition, Go with "A resume rarely communicates one's passion for one's work. I hope here to convey the love for teaching that impels me to apply for the ____ position at ____. "

    "International Baccalaureate" is a proper noun and so should be capitalized, but I would not capitalize "language arts" or "composition" or "second language" (as in English as a second language") or "student teaching" unless each is the specific name of a course.

    In American usage, neither "storylines" nor "semicolon" takes a hyphen.

    The clause appended to your description of the Bieber/Norris project, after the semicolon, should elaborate on the project and its impact. Your clause is much less specific than that.

    I see no reason to offer further elaboration of your resume in addition to discussing the position.
     
  9. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sep 8, 2011

    I think that, aside from the minor changes in the past 2 posts, it's a much stronger letter than the one you started with.

    Are you happy with it?
     
  10. meeestahclark

    meeestahclark Rookie

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    Sep 8, 2011

    I am very happy with it. Yesterday's draft also landed me an interview today (four weeks into the school year - crazy), so I'm hoping for the best. They're looking to "hire immediately"!

    Thanks again for all the help!
     
  11. meeestahclark

    meeestahclark Rookie

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    Sep 8, 2011

    ...got the job!!! SO PUMPED
     
  12. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Sep 8, 2011

    Yay, you!
     
  13. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sep 8, 2011

    That is so wonderful!!!!!

    Tell us about it!!!
     
  14. Kangaroo22

    Kangaroo22 Virtuoso

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    Sep 8, 2011

    Congratulations!
     
  15. meeestahclark

    meeestahclark Rookie

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    Sep 8, 2011

    It's at an alternative high school, which is right up my alley. There's about 125 students in a large, open-air room with individual computers, each of which have an individualized curriculum. I'll be working with 4 other teachers, and we sort of divide up and track the kids. The coolest part is that I get to create a couple elective completely from scratch, and I'll get funding to set up some after school clubs! We get a high degree of freedom to teach what and how we think best. I start on Monday, and I couldn't be more excited.

    Thanks again for the help with my letter. She commented on how much she liked it! :)
     
  16. SCTeachInTX

    SCTeachInTX Fanatic

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    Sep 8, 2011

    Well, SOMETIMES we do know what we are talking about... So happy for you. That sounds like an amazing opportunity. Glad it all worked out for you. Looks like you posted... JUST IN TIME!
     

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