Cover Letter v2.0!

Discussion in 'Job Seekers' started by gutterballjen, Jul 28, 2012.

  1. gutterballjen

    gutterballjen Comrade

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    Jul 28, 2012

    Okay so I took Alice's advice and tried really hard to let my personality shine in my cover letter. After thinking long and hard about how t0o do that, this kind of poured out of my brain. I realize that it's definitely a work in progress, but would love to have your input!

    *****
    Dear [Principal]:
    I am writing to express interest in the [grade] grade position at [Name] Elementary School. With my teaching experience, I believe I am an excellent candidate for your school.

    I first fell in love with teaching the first day I substitute taught in March 2010. That day, I was teaching a kindergarten class. During literacy centers, the assistant told me about one student, Ingreity, who was new to the country and struggled with identifying the letters H and J. I decided to work with her individually. By going around the room and finding every capital H and J together, Ingreity was able to not only visually discriminate between the two letters, but was also starting to grasp the concept of the sounds. The look of sheer joy on her face let me know that my small effort meant the world to her.

    Many of my students have made an impact on my life. One of those students is Jeremiah, who was in my third grade class. Jeremiah had a reputation that proceeded him. In the past three years, he attended eight different schools. Jeremiah was known to act out when he got frustrated. When I took over that classroom, he thought I would give up on him like his teachers in the past. However, Jeremiah realized that I am a teacher who does not give up on anyone. Instead of sending him to the office, I worked with him to figure out what he needed in order to succeed. When I noticed he struggled to stay in his seat, I gave him a stress ball to fidget with during lessons. On days when he felt overwhelmed with an assignment, I sat next to him. Just knowing that I was there to help him raised his self-confidence immensely. By the end of the year, Jeremiah earned his first A on a progress report. My belief in him helped Jeremiah realize that he really can achieve anything he wants to.

    I believe that I am an excellent candidate for the [grade] grade position at [Name] Elementary. With my teaching experience, I possess the creativity and knowledge to help your students thrive. I look forward to meeting with you about the opportunities available at your school. For more information please visit my website www.website.com.

    Sincerely,
    gutterballjen

    *******
    I know my first paragraph needs a little more meat to it, but I'm not sure what I should add to it without repeating what's in my resume or making it too wordy. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
     
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  3. Mathemagician

    Mathemagician Groupie

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    Jul 28, 2012

    It's pretty good, but a bit on the long side. Also, be careful in your paragraph in Jeremiah about attributing things to him that you really can't or shouldn't. How do you know he thought you would give up on him? I doubt he said that. Also, rather than noting that the students had an impact on your life, I think it would be better to focus on how YOU had an impact on their lives.
     
  4. ShoelessGal

    ShoelessGal Rookie

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    Jul 30, 2012

    I would include your phone and e-mail address in the last paragraph instead of making the employer look for it on your website.
     
  5. gutterballjen

    gutterballjen Comrade

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    Jul 30, 2012

    I have all of that below my signature. :)
     
  6. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Jul 31, 2012

    In the first paragraph, try focusing on the job and the school.

    In the first story you show a reaction (the look of sheer joy): good, though you then interpret her reaction for readers, though they can probably figure it out. The clauses about working with her individually and going around the room seeking H's and J's belong together however (that is, group the processes together in one sentence; then the results get to shine in their own sentence).

    Mathemagician's response to your second story is correct: showing us how the kid reacts is good, but you're telling us what he and everyone around him thinks, and that's not so good. I'd recommend also against making disparaging remarks about other teachers. In addition, think about which of your sentences is background information and how you can organize the lot of them a little more cohesively.

    I'd recommend pseudonyms for both students; one convention is to place the pseudonym in quotation marks. (Your first student's name is a little too unusual to be convincing as a pseudonym.)

    There are some errors in usage: reputations don't "proceed" people; "give up" and "realize" are overused, even if they were apt, and so is "past"; the simple past tense after "In the past three years" should be a past perfect, because that is the appropriate verb form for looking back from a point in the past at the more remote past.
     
  7. gutterballjen

    gutterballjen Comrade

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    Aug 1, 2012

    Okay I made quite a few edits and I think this is much better. I still need work on the first paragraph. I might use that space to mention something I've researched about each district/school.

    TG - Since I put the pseudonyms in quotes, is the comma supposed to go inside the quote, like this "name,"?

    Let me know what you think! :)
    ________________

    Dear [Principal]:
    I am writing to express interest in the [grade] grade position at [Name] Elementary School. With my teaching experience, I believe I am an excellent candidate for your school.

    I first fell in love with teaching the first day I substitute taught a kindergarten class in March 2010. During literacy centers, the assistant told me about one student, “Isabella”, who was new to the country and struggled with identifying the letters H and J. I decided to work with her individually. Together we went around the room and found every capital H and J we could. At the end of centers, not only was Isabella able to visually discriminate between the two letters, but was also starting to grasp the concept of the sounds. The look of sheer joy on her face let me know that I had found my calling.

    “Jeremy”, one of my students in my third grade class, was known for acting out when he was frustrated. One day he said to me, “Ms. gutterballjen, I quit! There’s no way I can do this. I’m dumb.” I am a teacher who does not give up on anyone. Instead of sending Jeremy to the office, I worked with him to figure out what he needed in order to succeed. When I noticed he struggled to stay in his seat, I gave him a stress ball to fidget with during lessons. If Jeremy felt overwhelmed with an assignment, I sat next to him. Just knowing that I was there raised his self-confidence immensely. By the end of the year, Jeremy earned his first A on a progress report. My belief in him helped Jeremy realize that he can achieve anything.

    I believe that I am an excellent candidate for the [grade] grade position at [Name] Elementary. With my teaching experience, I possess the creativity and knowledge to help your students thrive. I look forward to meeting with you about the opportunities available at your school. For more information, please visit my website www.website.com.

    Sincerely,
    gutterballjen
     
  8. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Aug 1, 2012

    I'd place commas and the like outside the quotation marks, as you did above.

    The first paragraph is the right place for the detail you've found about each school. You can make the first paragraph be about the job and the school, then.
     
  9. curiouslystrong

    curiouslystrong Companion

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    Aug 1, 2012

    I've always been told that the convention is to always place punctuation inside of quotation marks, regardless of context - whether the quotes signify dialogue or a pseudonym. I did some quick googling and the first link I found seems to back up this notion: http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/quotes.asp

    I still think it looks a bit odd to put an ending punctuation mark inside quotes (i.e. I am going to tell you a story about one of my students, whose name is "Sarah."), but I'm almost positive that that is the grammatically correct way to do it. I would definitely put a comma inside quotation marks.
     
  10. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Aug 1, 2012

    None of the examples in the link quoted by curiously deals with the issue at hand, I'm afraid.

    It is mostly in academic circles that one encounters the issue of punctuating a quoted single word or phrase. There it's accepted practice to place ending punctuation outside (though not outside a clause, of course):

    The practice is widely deemed "standard".

    The South seceded to defend its "peculiar institution".

    Pseudonyms fall under this rule.
     
  11. curiouslystrong

    curiouslystrong Companion

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    Aug 1, 2012

    I'm still certain that my professors have always instructed me to place a comma or period inside of quotation marks when punctuating a quoted single word or phrase, and I'm almost positive I've seen things written in this manner in journal articles. I went to google again, looking to find something with more applicable examples to clear things up for me, and it seems that according to APA Style (I was a psychology major, so I suppose APA is more relevant to me than to others, but the guide mentions that they are in agreement with AP, Chicago, and ALA), this is the convention: http://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2011/08/punctuating-around-quotation-marks.html

    The page does point out that American and British conventions are different, however, so perhaps this is the source of any confusion surrounding this issue?
     
  12. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Aug 1, 2012

    Fascinating and disturbing, curiously. I'd be surprised (and shocked) to see MLA following suit.

    Do what suits you, then, and I'll go be a dinosaur somewhere else.
     
  13. curiouslystrong

    curiouslystrong Companion

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    Aug 1, 2012

    It's just one of those things that I remember very well from my days of submitting hard-copy term papers during undergrad. I'm still pretty stubborn about putting periods outside of quotation marks, since inside just doesn't look right to me at all, but I would often have my papers returned with red arrows indicating that my punctuation ought to be inside the quotes. I hope I didn't come across as rude at all - I just wanted to offer my :2cents:, since I so vividly remember my own personal experience with this issue.

    I tried to look up MLA directly to see their advice on formatting quotations; the best source I could find was this: https://www.mtholyoke.edu/courses/jho/quotation_marks_MLA.html

    "We will be using MLA in-text citation for quotations and U.S. conventions of punctuation. This means that periods and commas are placed INSIDE quotation marks; all other punctuation marks are placed OUTSIDE."

    I would guess that many academic circles would tend to use British conventions rather than U.S. conventions, and given that both are technically "correct," it probably doesn't make too much of a difference whether one places a comma or period inside or outside of quotes in a cover letter.
     
  14. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    (TG mutters under her breath about American usage lapsing from sanity on this point, and stomps off to salve her wounded pride with whatever chocolate can be found.)
     
  15. gutterballjen

    gutterballjen Comrade

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    Aug 1, 2012

    When I thought about it further, I think I'm going to put the comma on the outside. It looks strange, but it feels right.

    Besides the comma drama, is everything else pretty good?
     
  16. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    It's getting there.

    I can't help wondering what everyone else was doing while you were hunting H's and J's with "Isabella" (a potential issue in classroom management lurks there), and I think you're better off with "new to the U.S." than with "new to the country".

    This sentence bugs me: "At the end of centers, not only was Isabella able to visually discriminate between the two letters, but was also starting to grasp the concept of the sounds." Try it this way: "By the end of centers, not only could Isabella distinguish between the two letters, she was also starting to grasp their sounds." (If her first language was Spanish, by the way, I'm impressed: in most varieties of Spanish, the letter <h> isn't pronounced, the letter <j> is pronounced sort of like a very throaty English <h>, and the sound of English <j> is entirely absent.)

    In the "Jeremy" story, it might work better to delete the sentence about you not giving up on students - let the reader infer that - in favor of noting what he had just done that might have warranted a trip to the office.
     
  17. gutterballjen

    gutterballjen Comrade

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    Aug 1, 2012

    I was actively monitoring the class along with the assistant. \

    I also made those changes you suggested. I'm really liking the sound of my letter now!
     
  18. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    Aug 2, 2012

    I'm curious - are student anecdotes required in a cover letter?
     
  19. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Aug 2, 2012

    Nothing's required, exactly, bonneb - but student anecdotes seem to be the easiest way for many job applicants to show who they are and how they work.
     

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