Letters of Recommendation for Teachers
Teacher letters of recommendation is a confusing term; it can refer to...
- for their students to help them in some
educational pursuit, like school admission, an
academic award, or a scholarship application.
- If you are a teacher looking for help in
writing such a letter, click here.
- If you are a student wanting help in
requesting such letters from your teachers, click here.
- for their students to help them get a job.
If you are a teacher looking for help in writing
such a letter, click here.
- for their students to help them do something
else - like adopt a child. If you need help writing or requesting such a
letter, click here.
Typically by a former student or colleague - about a teacher to help them do things like find a
teacher position or receive some sort of recognition or reward.
We will focus on this type of letter on this page.
The world of education is not always an easy or fair place. Teachers are notoriously
underpaid, and often the best teachers go completely unrecognized for their efforts - except, of course, by their
students. Teacher letters of recommendation is one way we can change all that.
The best teacher letters of recommendation are usually written for - surprise, surprise - the very
best teachers. In fact, the savviest administrators have long known that the single best way to measure the worth
of a teacher applying for a position is not their...
- Degrees, or
The best way to determine the worth of a teacher applicant is by reviewing the honest assessment
of their former students. Nothing sells like the words of satisfied customers!
If you are ever approached to write teacher letters of recommendation, then you owe it to the
teachers, to all their future students, and - for that matter - to everyone else in our society to do the very best
job you can.
As a matter of fact, most teachers are quite hesitant about asking this kind of favor from
someone. If you know a teacher who truly deserves a pat on the back, you should seriously consider taking the
initiative and offering to write a teacher letter of recommendation without waiting to be solicited. You'll make
her whole year!Here are some tips to keep in mind if you are writing a teacher letter of
recommendation for someone else:
- Your writing, grammar, and spelling will all reflect most directly on your teacher -
especially if he taught you English composition. Make sure your letter is proofed thoroughly. Allow the teacher
to review the letter (hopefully you won't be given a grade) before issuing a final draft.
- If possible, print the letter on some kind of letterhead. Recent graduates are unlikely to
be in a prestigious position, so most will have to use just blank paper. However, if you are one of the few who
can use letterhead will clout, do so! It will make your letter stand out in the crowd. Some
- Letterhead of the company you work for (even as an intern). This shows that the
teacher's tutelage has lead you to gainful employment.
- Stationery with your university's emblem on it. Chances are you can find a pack in the
school bookstore. For example, anyone can buy Harvard stationery at the Coop (bookstore) in Harvard Square;
the same is probably true of just about any university. Obviously, you shouldn't use stationery from a
school you don't attend.
- Letterhead from a sorority / fraternity
- Letterhead from an honor-based society (e.g. Phi Beta Kappa) or academic club / activity
(e.g. Mu Alpha Theta). (Anything with lost of Greek letters is probably good!)
Be wary of accepting the honor of writing a teacher letter of recommendation for
someone whom you still have as an instructor. This opens the door to accusations of extortion and all
that since the teacher can potentially threaten you with a poor grade if you don't write something
nice. Of course, few teachers would do such a thing, but the people receiving your letter might still
Here are some tips to keep in mind if you need a teacher letter of recommendation for
- Focus your letter on the kinds of things that are important to decision makers. The fact
that a teacher is popular is important with administrative types, but only to a point. Being able to maintain
discipline in the classroom is one trait that most will appreciate that most students will overlook. Also
important are the abilities to keep a brisk, steady pace through materials; interact effectively with parents
and administrators; provide assistance and guidance for other teachers when appropriate; and maintain a record
of consistent attendance.
- Don't hesitate to provide a draft. Most people are very receptive to using a "rough draft"
to get them started in the writing process. Moreover, many students are unfamiliar with the issues that are
most important to cover. Your draft can provide welcome guidance.
- Only approach students that are at the one of the extremes of their classes. Very good
students tend to enjoy school (and your class), so they are likely to write enthusiastic letters. They also are
likely to have received good grades from you, so they will have some gratitude toward you and empathy toward
your situation. Finally, they are more likely to be able to write well.
- That being said, teacher letters of recommendation from very poor students can also be quite
effective for you. Since most letters are from only the most excellent students, they will all tend to sound
alike. By being different, your letter will make a splash. Also, poor students are in a better position to
comment on some aspects of your teaching, such as patience and determination. If the student states up front in
his letter that he is a poor student, then it is best to leave spelling and grammatical error in place (if the
letter is too professional, the reviewers might think he wasn't such a bad student after all).
- As mentioned above, approaching a student for a teacher letter of recommendation can be
quite controversial. If you have no alternative, pick only the most excellent students for whom top grades are
already essentially ensured.