HELP! My first student teacher asked for a letter of rec.

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by eddygirl, Jul 8, 2011.

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  1. FarFromHome

    FarFromHome Connoisseur

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    Jul 8, 2011

    I was on several interview teams in Idaho, and letters of recommendation did not really have anything to do with who we picked for the job. We looked more at their resume and interview. The interview was the final decision for us most times. The only thing I remember noticing is that one of the women who interviewed for my job had worked in our district a year or two before, but did not have any recommendations from anyone in the district. That caught our attention and we thought it was a little strange.

    I agree with highlighting the positives in the letter.
     
  2. queenie

    queenie Groupie

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    These are two skills that come with experience...was he really terrible at these things, or was he what you'd expect for someone who is very new to teaching? If he wasn't deficient for a new teacher, then there's no need to mention them, I think. On the other hand, if he genuinely had no clue and no plan to fix it, then you might mention them. You can't fairly compare him to a seasoned teacher, though.
     
  3. kimrandy1

    kimrandy1 Enthusiast

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  4. SCTeachInTX

    SCTeachInTX Fanatic

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  5. SCTeachInTX

    SCTeachInTX Fanatic

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  6. LUCHopefulTeach

    LUCHopefulTeach Habitué

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    I wouldn't write a glowing recommendation unless you meant it. I personally don't like the advice of trying to remember what you would want someone to write about you in a letter of recommendation because this can lead to lying, leaving out details, or just sugar coating things. We need to be honest but put it in a positive way...

    I can tell that SCTeach did not say nor mean that she wouldn't hire first year teachers but that Bob, in his specific statement, did give her reasons to reconsider hiring first year teachers.

    I really think that we need to respect all the different opinions and stop ganging up on those, on this forum, who have a different opinion or point of view. This has been happening all too often lately...
     
  7. Southernese

    Southernese Rookie

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    Jul 9, 2011

    The problem with mentioning any negatives in a recommendation letter (even in a roundabout way) is that, very often, we on interview committees are looking for something--anything--to set the candidates apart. One little sentence that implies disorganization would get magnified out of proportion. When I see a negative statement in a recommendation letter, my first thought is, "Wow. He must have a huge problem with organization if it warrants mention in what's supposed to be a positive letter."

    Remember: This is a letter of recommendation. Not a thorough and critical performance evaluation.
     
  8. Mrs.SLF

    Mrs.SLF Comrade

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    Jul 9, 2011

    :agreed:
     
  9. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    We're totally on the same page...;)
     
  10. kimrandy1

    kimrandy1 Enthusiast

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    Jul 9, 2011

    Originally Posted by kimrandy1:

    I do not agree that you shouldn't hire first year teachers. That kindof makes me upset. How will new teachers ever get experience. I am so happy that my P hired me straight out of college. I have learned so much. I know there were things I needed to work on and I have done that.
    There are just somethings that college does not teach you and that you will never get a full grasp on until you have your own classroom by yourself.

    SCTeachinTX I really hope you rethink what you said.
    Every first year teacher deserves a chance. You were a first year teacher once.

    Friend, go back and read what I wrote in my original post. I said I DO NOT BELIEVE IN THAT. Please go back and reread. And yes, I was a first year teacher once. Please go back and reread what was actually said and then taken out of context. Thank you!


    I don't know why that quote at the top of this is attributed to me (in post #44) ...it's nothing I ever posted, not on this thread or another. just trying to clear up the facts! My only post was about my first hiring experience. It's odd that I'm mentioned as having said this passage.
     
  11. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Jul 9, 2011

    Exactly. That term isn't used on accident—that's what they're intended to be; that's what hiring teams expect. As others have said, if someone is unable to write a letter of recommendation then so be it.

    When I student taught I received three official evaluations from my university which were required by the college to be part of my portfolio. Of course, I could have removed them before going to an interview, but I didn't because they were positive and I assumed someone would be searching for them. This is where more critical observations should be noted.
     
  12. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    I agree! I'll admit I only read the first few pages of the thread, so I don't know how often this has been said, but this is a letter of recommendation, not a reference. You should NEVER put negative things in a letter of rec. I can't believe people would even think of it. You're supposed to be recommending the person, not evaluating every little thing about them. Of course everyone, even great teachers, has something they need to work on. I would assume this person is also going to ask to list you as a reference. Should a potential district call you, they will probably ask about weaknesses. That would be the only time you should share what your ST needs to work on (trying to keep things in a positive light of course). I needed 4 letters of rec and they were all glowing. 3 of them were from my 2 co-op teachers from my student teaching and 1 of them was my college supervisor for student teaching. I also placed their evaluations in my portfolio. However, their actual letters of rec were all positive. If you write this person a negative letter, you will seriously be damaging his chances of finding a job. One of my friends' co-op teachers refused to write her a letter of rec with no warning (suddenly at the end of the experience, she claimed she wasn't good enough, even though she'd had no problems with her all year and the co-op had even told her univ. supervisor she was doing great on numerous occasions). On every interview she's been on, they ask why her ST co-op teacher isn't listed as a reference. This sends a big red flag. She's yet to find a full time job 2 years later.

    Imagine if you were trying to find a new job and you ask your P for a recommendation. Would you be happy about a letter that mentioned some strenghts, and then right there in the middle of your letter of rec says, "________ needs to work on her classroom management skills. Organization is also an area that needs to be improved." Is that what you would expect from a letter of rec? How do you think your chances with new districts would be after that?
     
  13. teach42

    teach42 Comrade

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    I agree with what most have already written on here. When others have written recommendations for me, they told me that they would make it as positive as possible but if there were any questions asked about my weaknesses during a phone call or whatever, they would be honest about it. One of my mentors was asked to write a letter of recommendation for her student and he had a lot of weaknesses. She told him that she would write it for him but that she would be honest about his weaknesses and asked him if it was ok. So if you don't think you can write a glowing recommendation for them, then ask them if it's acceptable. I assume that if the letters are going to be negative, I would hope that the person would refuse to write one.

    I think the interviewers would recognize and maybe be understanding the weaknesses first year teachers possess, which often includes classroom management. I was really fortunate that the principal I interviewed with understood that I would be a first year teacher and attributed some of my minor weaknesses that I displayed during my demo lesson to that and that I would improve over time.
     
  14. capfortune

    capfortune Rookie

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    Jul 10, 2011

    If someone had written a recommendation about me as a teacher after my first year as a student teacher I would never have got a job. Your first year at trying anything new is difficult and this should be taken in to account. I think your recommendation should be positive because you can't judge someone's teaching abilities so soon in their career. Good luck to you and your student teacher.
     
  15. TeachingLady

    TeachingLady Rookie

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    Jul 10, 2011

    Write the letter from the heart and mean it! Honesty is always best.
     
  16. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Jul 10, 2011

    Every year, there are posts by teachers who are applying for jobs who are furious (and questioning the legality) about the content of letters of recommendation or reference. I don't think that anyone should lie, but a recommendation for a new teacher should highlight their strengths. If I don't see any strengths in a candidate, I wouldn't provide a letter.
     
  17. ally06

    ally06 Companion

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    I haven't read the whole thread but I think that if you can honestly recommend him for a job then write a letter highlighting only his strengths.
     
  18. LUCHopefulTeach

    LUCHopefulTeach Habitué

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    My point is that the no one shoul write a false, glowing letter of recommendation if they don't mean it. It should focus on their strengths however, I didn't like the attitude of just write one and remember how you would want yours to say.

    This isn't really specific to this situation but in general.
     
  19. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    I say highlight the good, really highlight it.

    If all he is lacking is maturity and organization, then I wouldn't mention those. It is expected that as a newbie he'd need to mature and gain some organizational skills.
     
  20. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jul 10, 2011

    I don't think anyone has suggested lying. It's just a question of how much truth to include.

    Any time I've written a letter, I've emphasized the positives. If I honestly thought they were outweighed by the negatives, I wouldn't be writing the letter. And sometimes what you don't say speaks volumes

    As to those areas of improvement: We all have them. First year teachers tend to have more than teachers who have some experience. I leave those out of the letter. If the question comes up in a followup phone call, I answer more fully, but include that I think the candidate is still a good choice.
     
  21. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    The big issue for me was that the poster said in organization and classroom management that basically the student teacher was clueless as if he never heard any of it before. I understand weaknesses that are at an acceptable level and expected at that level of experience not being mentioned, but OP said this student teacher acted like all of this was foreign to him. At that level, even if there is potential in other areas or great skil in other areas, I feel it is a disservice to any future students for it not to be mentioned. Kids can't learn if the class is chaos. Disorganization is a big problem and makes problems for the school. Parents don't appreciate not knowing what is going on and kids can't learn if a teacher flits from thing to thing because he can't get his act together.
     
  22. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Again, a2z, those weaknesses will be shared through the reference or perhaps through official observation forms. Although, I should add that he was also said to be eager to learn the things that unfortunately, through no fault of his own, his college program failed to teach.

    No one is suggesting to never speak the words "unorganized" or "weak classroom management"—just doing so at the appropriate time.

    • Letter of Recommendation
    • Reference
    Two separate things.
     
  23. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Then more than likely I would decline the recommendation because I would not feel comfortable recommending someone that could not demonstrate 2 key skills needed for teaching when the student teacher had no knowledge regardless of whether it was his fault or not.

    If a student teacher is not aware enough to understand that classroom management and organization is key to running a classroom, I question the ability of this person understand the job at hand which in turn would make me question giving any kind of recommendation.

    If for some reason I felt compelled to do so because I was the only source of recommendation for the student, I would mention it regardless of whether others felt it belonged there or not. However, I would inform him of such. My credibilty is on the line when a recommendation is given. For me to ignore such cluelessness and RECOMMEND that person would make me look incompetent.
     
  24. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I guess I didn't get the same impression of him as you did. Not many details were provided, but I didn't get the sense that she felt he would be an ineffective teacher.
     
  25. Mrs.SLF

    Mrs.SLF Comrade

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    Wowsers! I would simply suggest remembering your first year of teaching and what is was like to, at times, feel like a chicken with your head cut off because of everything you learn as you go. :2cents:
     
  26. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    Great description of first year of teaching. You might as well be thrown fresh into the fire with the wolves waiting for you to climb out and have their dinner. It is an experience everyone goes through, not all are the same, but all are serious learning expieriences. I don't care how good my student teaching would have been, nothing would have fully prepared me for my first year of teaching.
    Students are not going to have the same type of year with a first year teacher as with a veteran teacher. They will learn things, but it will never be nearly as effective. Yes, that is a small disadvantage for them, but many kids at one point or another will have a teacher in their first year. All professions go through it, people are just not usually as good at their job the first time around.
     
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