Critique my cover letter please! (yet again)

Discussion in 'Job Seekers' started by RedStripey, Jun 16, 2014.

  1. RedStripey

    RedStripey Comrade

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    Jun 16, 2014

    I just re-wrote my cover letter tonight. Please don't judge me if it's completely terrible. It's only the first draft and I haven't sent it out anywhere yet/don't want to until it's looked over. :) I wrote a great cover letter this time last year thanks to this forum and started getting more interviews after that.

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    I am delighted to present to you my resume for your consideration as (position within school/district). I learned of this opportunity through (where I saw the job posting). (I will put what I like about the school here and why I want to work there) My credentials, experience, and enthusiasm for teaching would make me a suitable candidate for this position.

    As my enclosed resume states, I graduated magna cum laude from ABC University in May 2013, and hold two teaching certifications from the state of New Jersey. In the fall, I will be attending DEF University in order to receive my Teacher of Students with Disabilities certification. I also have a strong background in technology, having worked for my college’s information technology department for three years. (<=== I want to include this but I'm not sure if it should be in this spot or not)

    Since September 2013, I have been employed as a teacher’s assistant at XYZ Elementary School in Anytown, NJ. I am assigned to both general education and special education settings in first, second, and third grades in all subject areas. The teachers and I work closely together to provide academic and behavioral support for students with IEPs. Students work with me individually or in small groups so I can provide differentiated instruction to meet their needs. For example, I may do a read aloud with a small group and have them orally respond to questions, while the other students read and respond individually. Due to the population of students I assist, I have learned how to quickly identify the needs of students and have strengthened my classroom management skills.

    My other current position is a tutor for students in kindergarten through twelfth grade in reading, writing, basic math, and standardized test preparation. The students I tutor benefit from a program designed specifically for their academic needs. I have seen great academic success among the students with whom I have worked closely. For example, a seventh-grade girl worked with me regularly in a reading program that focused on her inference and comprehension skills. After the program ended, her post-assessment reflected a seventy percent increase in those areas. Other education-related experiences include co-teaching at an art camp, student teaching, and substitute teaching. You can view more evidence of my accomplishments in the classroom on my online teaching portfolio, located at (link).

    From my experiences working with children, I have learned behavioral management techniques, lesson planning skills, and a strong work ethic. I am confident that I can bring these qualities to (school/district) if hired. You can contact me either by phone or email in order to set up an interview. Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Sincerely,
    RedStripey

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    Please let me know if I should add or remove anything, or if you see any spelling or grammatical errors. Thank you in advance for your help! :love:
     
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  3. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Jun 16, 2014

    It's longer and a bit more scattered than I think will serve you well; you're trying to cover just a few too many bases here.

    Here's an analogy: "Cover letter" is to "resume" as "preview" is to "full-length feature". The preview dispenses those bits of the movie that are judged likeliest to draw in a given audience (and, yes, previews DO vary from market to market). Similarly, the cover letter specifically does not show the reader everything you've got. It doesn't even hint at everything you've got. Instead, it makes the reader want to find out more about what you've got, by dangling two to four nifty shiny facts/skills/anecdotes in front of the weary reader's eyes.
     
  4. RedStripey

    RedStripey Comrade

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    Jun 16, 2014

    OK. Can you give me specific examples please? I don't know why I have so much trouble with this. :(
     
  5. teachinIA4137

    teachinIA4137 Rookie

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    Jun 16, 2014

    I think TeacherGroupie is right. You don't want to LIST all of the experience you have. I would keep the bits about schooling, the technology department. The way I did my cover letter I talked about my enthusiasm for teaching, and even gave a list of the skills I take pride in (it takes up a lot of room without looking like a big fat letter).
    TeacherGroupie had the perfect analogy about the previewing. Try to hit on 'undertones' of your resume. What do all the experiences and job descriptions SAY about your skills as a TEACHER (i.e., differentiating lessons to meet needs of students, effectively manage classrooms)?

    Don't sweat it, I am awful at writing out my teaching philosophy for portfolios. I HATE cover letters. They are so terrible to write. Luckily my ST supervisor was great and literally walked me through the process and gave me lots of examples.
     
  6. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Jun 16, 2014

    You're very far from the only one who struggles on this, Red: writing about oneself is darned hard. Go find yourself some chocolate, please.

    Have you figured out what this district/employer is likeliest to want for THIS position? If so, think of a couple of anecdotes that show you providing those things, then write your letter around them.

    Rather than having a paragraph devoted to your credentials, try tucking allusions to them into other paragraphs. I suspect, for example, that what you've done and seen as a TA this year has something to do with you deciding to go for the master's in special ed. If so, you can conclude the TA paragraph by saying so (though I might omit the university's name: the reader can look that up in your resume).
     
  7. RedStripey

    RedStripey Comrade

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    Jun 17, 2014


    Well, this is just a generic cover letter that I would post somewhere like teachers-teachers.com or somewhere that requires just one letter, but I will keep that in mind for when I'm applying on Applitrack or emailing principals.

    I think what I'm having a hard time with is summing up what I do at my job. At the beginning of the year, I did a lot of small group instruction because the teachers know I'm certified, but the past few months have been spent correcting behaviors of out-of-control children :/ That, and I was moved to the MD room for part of the day (which I love, and why I decided to go back to school for special ed) and I don't do a lot of teaching in there, so I'm not sure how to talk about that while applying for a teaching position.

    Your analogy about cover letters being like movie previews really did help. Thank you very much. :love:
     
  8. RedStripey

    RedStripey Comrade

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    Jun 17, 2014

    Thanks for the help! All my cover letters have droned on and on about my experience and what I do, but I really should talk about my enthusiasm for teaching! And I hate talking about myself so much. I'm super modest.
     
  9. RedStripey

    RedStripey Comrade

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    Jun 17, 2014

    Ok, I narrowed it down a little bit. I'm not sure if it's what you guys were suggesting but I tried!

    Also, I can change the anecdotes in both paragraphs (for example, if the job posting wants someone with strong classroom management skills, I have anecdotes I can use to respond to that). This is just a generic cover letter that I would post on a search engine site.

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    I am delighted to present to you my resume for your consideration as (position within school/district). I learned of this opportunity through (website/newspaper). My experience and enthusiasm for teaching would make me a suitable candidate for this position.

    Since September 2013, I have been employed as a teacher’s assistant at ABC Elementary School in Anytown, NJ. Due to the students’ differences in abilities, I understand how to identify their needs in order for them to succeed in the classroom. For example, a third-grade boy had difficulty with writing; while he always had great ideas in his head, he could not get them down on paper. With approval from his teacher, I taught him how to make a graphic organizer. This helped him formulate his ideas into a solid piece of writing. Since using this strategy, his writing has improved drastically. In addition, the varying abilities and needs of my students have inspired me to pursue additional certification in special education, which I will begin in the fall.

    My other current position is a tutor for students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. Students benefit from a program designed specifically for their academic weaknesses. I have seen great academic success among the students with whom I have worked closely. For example, a seventh-grade girl worked with me regularly in a reading program that focused on improving her inference and comprehension skills. After the program ended, her post-assessment reflected a seventy percent increase in those areas. When I see my students’ grades increase, it reminds me of why I went into the teaching profession in the first place: I want to help children see what they can achieve if they put in the effort.

    Other education-related experiences include co-teaching at an art camp, student teaching, and substitute teaching. You can view more evidence of my accomplishments in the classroom on my online teaching portfolio, located at (link). My background reflects a teacher who is passionate about learning and caring towards all students, and I can bring these qualities to (school/district) if hired. You can contact me either by phone or email in order to set up an interview. Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Sincerely,
    RedStripey

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    Thanks again!
     
  10. ScienceEd

    ScienceEd Companion

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    Jun 18, 2014

    I found this advice online:

    GUIDELINES
    · Since most cover letters get only a minute or two of consideration, you must grab the reader’s
    interest immediately!
    · Always customize your letter for each position.
    · Appearances count so pay attention to format. Proofread and have someone else proofread!
    · Mistakes could cause your immediate rejection.
    · Use the same contact information heading for resume and cover letter.
    · Avoid beginning too many sentences with “I”.
    · Use professional language without too much jargon.
    · Demonstrate your abilities with specific examples. Show how your qualifications meet the
    needs of the school. Highlight relevant experiences, appropriate training and specific
    qualifications.
    · Use your own words; you do not want your cover letter to sound like it was copied from a book
    or the internet.

    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=...CfPYLcj_3e2R-5hjQ&sig2=qg5Bk3rtnUiX7RLF2XIs1g
     
  11. RedStripey

    RedStripey Comrade

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    Jun 29, 2014

    I understand everyone is busy but would really appreciate it if someone could look at my updated cover letter. Thank you.
     
  12. sunshine24

    sunshine24 Comrade

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    Jun 29, 2014

    I'm no expert, but I think that your updated cover letter is pretty good. Personally, I was told by my university career center not to put specific examples or anecdotes in my cover letter. But, rather list the qualities that I have or skills that I gained during certain experiences. For example, when I touch upon my student teaching experiences, I make sure to note that I utilized technology in almost every lesson. Or when I write about my subbing experience, I make sure to put that I have experience in a variety of classroom management skills.

    Not sure what is right or wrong...just throwing out another idea. Good luck to you!
     

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