References/Letters of Rec?

Discussion in 'Substitute Teachers' started by uncleal, Dec 30, 2010.

  1. uncleal

    uncleal Rookie

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    As a substitute teacher, when is the right time to ask a general education teacher to serve as a reference that you can put on your resume? When is the right time to ask an administrator at a school that you sub at? Can you also ask other people other than the teachers and administrators? Also, when is it appropriate to ask for letters of references?

    I've subbed for several teachers, some more than once, and have been on several school sites. I am starting to polish my resume and move towards a full-time job. I have teachers saying that I do a good job, but I am just wondering what is the polite time to ask them to serve as a reference for me. :help:
     
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  3. Kat53

    Kat53 Devotee

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    A reference is good for about two years, and I've heard that the proper wait time between asking and receiving a letter is two weeks. I would ask a month in advance of when you need it. So if you are applying for the next school year, I would ask around February to have the letter in plenty of time.
     
  4. uncleal

    uncleal Rookie

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    Wait, I'm confused. How long do you need to know the teacher or administrator first before you can ask if they can be a reference?
     
  5. jen12

    jen12 Devotee

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    There's no set time as far as etiquette goes. You can ask whenever you feel comfortable.
     
  6. Kat53

    Kat53 Devotee

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    Did I confuse you? Sorry! Was it the two year comment? I meant that once you get your letter, it is good to use as a reference for around two years.
     
  7. luckyal29

    luckyal29 Companion

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    I would wait until you're being requested to sub in their classroom/school. If it's something where you are randomly placed in their classroom I wouldn't ask. However, if they're specifically requesting you to sub in the classroom repeadately, then odds are they feel confident in you. Then after subbing a few more days, I'd ask if they'd be okay as a reference and/or write a letter of rec. I think the min would be about 5 days worked in the teacher's classroom before you ask. I actually asked a couple teachers to serve as reference (all said yes)but I can't recall how long I waited.

    As far as admin, that's a little trickier. I actually had to at the very last min as my job app was going through final process. I had never asked the P for letter or rec or put as reference because out of the 40 or so times I was at the school she never came and observed me. She did recommend me, but thinking back on it I should have taken the initiative and asked her to observe me.

    As far as references besides teachers/admins, I'd stick to members of the education field unless you have a glowing letter of rec that is pertinent.
     
  8. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    We sub internally, so I'm really just taking a guess here.

    But I would imagine that I would feel comfortable writing a letter for a sub only after that same person had covered my class a number of times-- say 6 or 7 different occasions. (So, under normal circumstances, that might take a few years I would think.)

    One or two days, even if they went incredibly well, probably wouldn't be enough to ensure me that I really knew the sub well enough to write a strong letter.

    So I think it's probably less a matter of "number of years" and more a matter of "number of days subbing for that teacher."
     
  9. Galois

    Galois Companion

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    I myself need a letter of recommendation badly, and I need it right now. But I won't use this route because nobody, except the students, will really be observing me directly.

    Right now, we are arranging that a department head observe my actual practice teaching in her classroom for several occasions and then she will be able to give me a strong letter of recommendation. This will save me a lot of time.
     
  10. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    I think if you sub regularly for a teacher & regularly, meaning at LEAST once a month, they should know your style to be able to write a letter after one school year is over. If you sub for someone once or twice a week, then maybe you can ask them after 1/2 year.

    I'd definitely ask though from the teacher & principal if you subbed long-term for as little as two months M-F.
     
  11. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I've been a reference for subs that I've worked with in a co-teaching situation because I was able to know absolutely how they worked in a classroom. When someone subs for me, I really don't know that much about them; for me, their interaction with my students is as important as their 'teaching' and the only way to know that is to see it.

    I also acted as a reference for a sub position for a volunteer in our school--she's a recent grad trying to get her foot in the door. I knew within the first 30 minutes of her being in a classroom that she would be a great sub.
     
  12. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Are there really teachers who are out twice a week for a half year? :eek:
     
  13. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Does that happen often? Are the same teachers typically out once a month?

    eta: sorry czacza; I should have read all the way to the end of the thread before posting:lol:
     
  14. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I couldn't see someone being out twice a week for a long time but I do know of a school that gives every teacher one day for paperwork day and they request regular subs for this so the teachers don't have to write lengthy sub plans for this day.
     
  15. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    The shock is worth two posts questioning that many absences!
     
  16. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    One day every how often?

    During my "black cloud period" I had to leave 5 minutes early every day for 6 weeks to make my radiation appointment. I was one of 4 teachers in a cafeteria study hall, so it wasn't a big deal. But I felt incredibly guilty aksing others to pick up my share during those 6 weeks. (Even though one of them had been in my shoes a few years prior and knew the drill.)

    I cannot imagine being absent enough times in one year to really get a feel for how strong a sub is.
     
  17. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    I asked after long-term assignments that lasted at least one month. And this would be after working closely with the absent teacher or with a co-teacher. If there's nobody around to watch you teach, it's hard to ask for a letter.

    I asked for a phone recommendation from a department head after doing 3 long-terms for her department, then finally getting the opportunity to directly co-plan with her during the last assignment. I should have asked for an actual letter, but her recommendation by phone ended up getting me a job! If I get to work with her again this summer, I will ask for a letter to have for my records.

    Bottom line is that you should actively seek long-term positions at the same school so the staff can get to know you.

    In one of my month long positions (at a school where the staff didn't know me), I couldn't ask anyone for a letter because I never worked with anyone. They just put me in the classroom and basically set me off on my own. I kept meaning to set up opportunities to work with anyone just to get a letter out of the assignment, but the opportunity never came up. I was still able to use the job on my resume, but had to explain that I was on my own with no supervisor - thus no recommendation from that job.
     
  18. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Oops. I forgot to complete that sentence correctly. I know a school that gives each teacher a paperwork day one day each month.
     
  19. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Very smart plan.
     
  20. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    OK, probably not likely w/ general ed teachers, but for the SLPs I sub for, districts are so short on them, I've subbed for numerous SLP positions that often & even a couple times for the entire school year. SLPs are generally on one campus 2 or 3 days out of the week (since they're assigned to 2 schools). So I'd definitely get the SLP's & P's letters of rec. (The other SLP(s) who would hlep w/the assessment & paperwork aspect of it have written me letters before.)
     
  21. Mark94544

    Mark94544 Companion

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    > If there's nobody around to watch you teach, it's hard to ask for a letter. <

    When I subbed, I tried to make contact with the teachers; if I got an assignment early enough, I'd email the teacher to ask if they might email me the lesson plan, or at least let me know what material the students were covering. I also left detailed notes for the teacher at the end of each day -- I was quite surprised to learn that this was unusual!

    But of course, no matter how diligent I was, nobody was actually observing me in the classroom when I was subbing. Nor was my experience as a substitute teacher adequate to help me decide if I wanted to be a "real" full-time teacher.

    After I realized that subbing wasn't giving me a "genuine" classroom experience, I contacted several middle- and high-school English teachers (whom I'd subbed for), expressing my desire to "shadow" a teacher for multiple days, so I could get a clearer perception of what teaching would really be like. One teacher responded, and I spent several weeks in her classroom, so I felt entirely comfortable asking her for a recommendation letter, which she gladly promised.

    But then the teacher had a medical emergency, and was expected to be absent for several weeks. I was asked to sub for her, which I gladly did -- but I was suddenly panicked about getting a meaningful recommendation letter!

    When I realized that this teacher might not be able to write the reference letter before my credential-program application deadline, I asked the principal if he would be willing to observe me enough to write a meaningful letter; he agreed, but each day there were new demands for his attention, so he never observed me -- leaving me quite nervous. Fortunately the sick teacher was diligent enough that she prepared and mailed me a great recommendation letter, from her home.

    The lesson here: don't wait until you need a recommendation letter, but work early and often to show your skills to teachers, and ask for recommendations. Wouldn't it be great to have more glowing recommendation letters than you need?
     
  22. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Mark, great advice to those seeking letters of recommendation. Another idea is to ask a neighboring teacher if you sub for the same teacher often enough.

    I have one teacher that is out at least three times a month. Some of these are professional development days, but some a sick/personal days. She always has the same sub, so I would think in this case, the sub could ask her directly for a reference...but would she be someone you want referring you?
     
  23. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    It's out of my depth but could you ask the P to observe you a few times and go from there?
     

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