I've Got The Cover Letter Blues...

Discussion in 'Job Seekers' started by cem, Aug 14, 2012.

  1. cem

    cem Rookie

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    Aug 14, 2012

    Hello! I am in need of some CV help. I have worked, reworded, taken away, had friends take a look, and even added (you get the point) to my cover letter and still feel "blah" about it.

    Back to the Cover Letter...I am struggling with the personal story.

    I was given a tip by my student teaching cooperative teacher that tomorrow there will be a listing for a Grade 4 Interim position in the district that I LOVE :wub:

    TeacherGroupie, Aliceacc, and other wonderful proofreaders I have seen you help the wordy type. I need some :help: and appreciate anyone taking a look.

    This is the second paragraph. The entire letter is less than one page. I am sure there are errors, I am working on hardly any sleep. Thanks!
    ___________________

    One of my favorite teaching moments comes from implementing a differentiated money unit in a second grade classroom. During the pre-assessment test, “Diane,” an ELL student who struggled significantly in math, came to my desk crying out of frustration. The next day, I asked Diane to help me in the lunchroom. The question was, “Do I have enough money for ice cream?” The cafeteria staff waited while we worked out the math problem using imaginary touch points on quarters. Before the end of the day, I complied a list of fun ELL friendly math review websites and sent them to her parents with a note of encouragement to practice at home. Through real world application, home support, and reinstruction, Diane increased her score significantly from pretest to posttest. Most importantly, she confided in me that she was excited to come to school and volunteered to be the banker in an upcoming economics unit. Moments like these are the reason why I am confident in my decision to become an educator. Not only did Diane gain confidence, but she also found a new love for math.

    Here is my shorter version, does this lose some of "Diane's" story?

    One of my favorite teaching moments comes from a money unit in a second grade classroom. During the pre-assessment test, “Diane,” a student who often struggled in math, came to my desk frustrated. The next day at lunch, Diane helped me figure out if I had enough money for ice cream. By imagining touch points on coins, she solved my dessert dilemma. Through real world application, home support, and reinstruction, Diane increased her score significantly from pretest to posttest. Most importantly, she confided in me that she had gained confidence and was excited to explore the next math unit.

    _______________

    Should I scratch them both and go with something else? I'm open for suggestions!
     
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  3. Milsey

    Milsey Habitué

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    Aug 14, 2012

    I don't know why you have to include all this in a cover letter. :dizzy: Principals are busy people and don't have time to read 'A Day in My Teaching Life." A cover letter should be only two to three short, concise paragraphs. Just list your skills and state why you'd be a good fit at xyz school.
     
  4. cem

    cem Rookie

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    Aug 14, 2012

    Milsey - Thanks you so much for responding. I went back and edited my first posting. I think it read that I wanted to say all that stuff in my letter. I'm really excited about the possibility of teaching in this district, can you tell? ha

    My first and last paragraph are really short - pretty much they say - I love your school district, I'd be a good fit because..., and would love an interview (in about 2-3 sentences & more professional words).

    Sharing a teaching moment was suggested by a few teacher friends. Is this strange? I know principals are super busy, and don't want to be overloading them with my life story! I have seen a few cover letters share info like this, but I'm new at this.

    "Diane's" story is my second paragraph, and the entire cover letter is less than 1 page. Is it needed?
     
  5. Mathemagician

    Mathemagician Groupie

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    Aug 14, 2012

    I LOVE the story in general. One thing to be careful about, especially with ELL or low SES students is mentioning the importance of home support. You included this in both versions, and I would avoid it in case you are in a district where support is not high.

    Your overall length sounds fine. This isn't a life story--it is an anecdote, and it is important. You mention that you discuss in your first paragraph why you want to work in their district, but try to focus on what you bring them instead.
     
  6. cem

    cem Rookie

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    Aug 14, 2012

    Mathemagician - Thanks for the advice. I struggled with adding the ELL part at all, but it is really important to this school district. Working with diverse learners is one area that I really shine in. Maybe this is one of the areas I bring up in first or last paragraph instead.

    You are so right about the home support. - I'm leaving it out

    I am going to finish working on this tomorrow morning, after some sleep. Hope to hand deliver with a resume tomorrow, after school.

    Thanks for your help.
     
  7. Mathemagician

    Mathemagician Groupie

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    Maybe you misunderstood---adding the ELL part is fine, just not the home support...definitely talk about diverse learners. Good luck!
     
  8. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Aug 15, 2012

    Cem, keep the story! I have one in my cover letter, too.

    You are right that you want to keep it short, concise, and to the point. That said, I think your story just needs a bit of work. I am not expert, but I'll give it a shot.


    When you write a cover letter, you want to share who you are and what you can bring to the school. Just adding
    doesn't say much. It's basically listed on your resume. What can YOU bring to the school.
     
  9. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Oh, and just wanted to add... so, IF a principal is too busy to read a cover letter, then why send in a shoddy/boring/generic in anyways? If they choose to scan a cover letter, they can scan a good one or a boring one. Right? Might as well put some work into it, just in case.
     
  10. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Aug 15, 2012

    cem, why are you telling the story? What point are you intending to make?
     
  11. Milsey

    Milsey Habitué

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    OMG, you tell a story if there's an essay question in the application, not in a cover letter!
    You tailor your cover letter to the school you're applying to. Nothing generic about that.
     
  12. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Milsey, brief anecdotes can in fact serve very well in cover letters; on this point we have the word not only of many people whose cover letters with anecdotes have gotten them in the door for interviews but also a number of teachers who have been involved in the hiring process.
     
  13. cem

    cem Rookie

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    Aug 15, 2012

    Milsey - I am applying for elementary positions and this was suggested by a few teachers and the P at the school I student taught at, in the same district. - It seemed strange to me at first but I went with it, and like it.

    TeacherGroupie - I am hoping to showcase that I care about students when they need me by giving them challenging experiences to showcase their own knowledge. I use a lot of hands on learning, a lot of manipulatives, I try to connect to students prior knowledge. I work so hard to find another way to teach this, not only for her but for her classmates. I think teaching is not only in the classroom, that there are teachable moments all around. Singapore Math was NOT clicking with the students so we went another direction and learned the touch points to supplement their textbook. When I first wrote this anecdote, it was twice as long :eek: maybe I cut some of the good stuff and am left with just a story? :dizzy:

    The lightbulb went off when for this little girl when she was able to see that the coins that are 50 cents in the book, were the same quarter we use out in the real world. After that, it was a lot easier for her visualize what we were talking about. I am going to go back and showcase these when I rewrite this.
     
  14. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Aug 15, 2012

    cem, if that's the point of your anecdote - and it's a fine point - then use it in a paragraph that makes that point, rather than putting it in its own paragraph and telling the reader that it's a favorite story.

    Use what you've just told me to rewrite that paragraph, please. You may also find that rewriting the paragraph forces you to recast the rest of the letter; it will feel like a nuisance but it is a good thing in the long run, I promise.
     
  15. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Um, okay. To each their own. :)
     
  16. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Cem, can you post an update when you're done? :)
     
  17. cem

    cem Rookie

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    Aug 15, 2012

    Milsey - Thanks for the advice, I am reworking the paragraph. I think it is coming together as less of a story of my life and more about what students are able to do in my classroom.

    Peachyness - Thanks! I am using what you and Math suggested to to rework my paragraph, still working on it now. I think the story can be more focused on what happened to get her there, thanks for pointing that out.

    TeacherGroupie - Thank you for the feedback. I am going to try to work on it as, "As an educator, I'm good at these things. Here's the example of how this helped my student...Diane's story with examples of the first sentence." - in better words. :)

    This is why I love this forum. Thanks for helping me out everyone.
     

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