Reference letter for a para

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by Kate Change, Aug 22, 2010.

  1. Kate Change

    Kate Change Companion

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    Aug 22, 2010

    One of my former para's contacted me about writing a reference letter for her. She was OK, not bad, but certainly not the best para I've ever had. She was pretty good. Do I write her a stellar reference letter or a pretty good letter? She will be hand delivering it, if that matters. I don't have much experience doing this.
     
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  3. mom2mikey

    mom2mikey Cohort

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    Aug 22, 2010

    I would write a decent reference letter saying that she is compotent and does a good job but I wouldn't go overboard.
     
  4. ZoomZoomZOOM

    ZoomZoomZOOM Devotee

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    Aug 22, 2010

    I agree with m2m. I'd be pretty basic. "To Whom It May Concern: Sue worked as a 1:1 in my room from 2009-2010 school year. She accepted direction well and had adequate attendance. Blah blah." This lets the person know exactly what's up but gets you off the hook. If she doesn't like it, too bad. Pay back's a... heh
     
  5. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Aug 22, 2010

    Anybody reading a reference letter can "read between the lines". What you want to be careful of, is that in writing a "ho hum" letter, that you don't give the impression that she was terrible, which is frequently how those letters are perceived.

    As a person who's been in the position to read those letters, here's what I might do, to get across that the person was okay, but not wonderful:

    Write the letter ho-hum, for the most part; she took direction well, attendance was fine, etc, but, pick ONE thing that she did really well and emphasize that thing. For instance, maybe she was always good at picking up after the kids left, or she was always there 10 minutes early. Just picking that ONE trait and emphasizing it tells the person reading the letter that the person wasn't terrible.
     
  6. EmptyClassroom

    EmptyClassroom Rookie

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    Aug 22, 2010

    Here's a tip I learned from my mother, a former teacher. I've used it for several paras, as well as teachers who...didn't make the cut. "So-and-so had a good rapport with students. " My mother also served on site-based (hiring committee) and said whenever they came across an applicant with references involving little but rapport, they took it as code that the applicant had little classroom management and did little teaching. Not sure if it will help you, but it's my fallback! I also emphasize the 'call for further reference' line.
     
  7. Kate Change

    Kate Change Companion

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    Aug 22, 2010

    Thanks for the advice all! She wasn't awful, I don't want to blackball her from education, she was just a bit personally difficult and I've had more successful work experiences with other paras. So I focused on the good work that she did and didn't mention people skills, team work or attendance, which were areas of need.

    It wasn't glowing, but I think it was still positive enough for people to understand that she would be an asset to the right team, in the right role, but not to every team. After all, we're none of us perfect.
     

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