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Whether it's your first teaching job or you're looking for a new position after years in the field, you'll need a letter of application, or cover letter, to accompany each resume you send to prospective employers. The letter introduces you and draws attention to your resume to motivate the reader to schedule an interview. Since the letter is often the first contact you have with a prospective employer, you want to make sure it's engaging and demonstrates why you're a good fit for the position.
Why Do You Need a Letter of Application?
Depending on the position and the school district, there may be dozens (or even hundreds) of applications. Busy Human Resources departments cannot read through every resume to decide who they'll interview. A cover letter highlights your qualifications and invites the reader to find out more about you from the resume.
The Three Parts of a Letter of Application
Your letter should be no longer than a page. In the first part of the letter, the introduction, you'll state the position you're applying for, how you heard about the opening and why you're interested. The second part of the letter, the body, is generally one to three paragraphs long. In this part, you'll demonstrate your understanding of the position by showing how your qualifications relate to it. Rather than simply duplicate information from your resume, use the body of your letter of application to explain specifically how your skills and experience will be an asset to the school. In the third part of your letter, the closing, you'll suggest further action. You might do that by inviting the reader to phone you to schedule an interview. You might also give a date by which you'll follow up.
Use standard business format for setting up your letter. Full-block style is the most commonly used format. There are many examples of cover letters online. You may find it particularly helpful to look at those posted under the auspices of a college or university school of education. If you're still in school, you can visit the campus career center for help writing a letter of application for a teaching job.
If you're submitting more than one resume, personalize each letter of application instead merely duplicating a generic letter. Try to get the name of the person to whom your letter will be addressed. If you're answering a blind ad and can't get specific information, avoid using "Dear Sir or Madam" or "To Whom It May Concern." Instead, use a gender neutral opening such as "Dear Director of Human Resources" or "Dear Hiring Committee."
Put the focus on the reader rather than on yourself. Avoid using "I" more than twice in a paragraph. For example, instead of saying "I am enclosing my resume," you can say "You will find a copy of my resume enclosed."
Appropriate closings for your letter are "Respectfully" or "Sincerely." Closings such as "Truly yours" or "Very truly yours" are considered old-fashioned and more suitable for personal letters than for business letters.
Teacher Cover Letter Examples
The first example is for a candidate who has just completed, or will soon be completing, the requirements for a teaching degree. Without paid experience as an educator, the candidate highlights academic accomplishments, volunteer work and student teaching:
Dear Dr. Edwards:
It was with great interest that I learned of the opening for a mathematics teacher at Dogwood High School. I learned about the vacancy from Ms. Janice Elliot, a mathematics teacher at Anytown High, who was my supervisor for a semester of student teaching.
I am committed to creating a respectful and engaging environment in which students can learn. As a volunteer math tutor at Anytown College, I was able to quickly build positive relationships with students, faculty and fellow tutors. More than one student I worked with praised the patience and clarity with which I was able to explain difficult concepts.
As a student teacher, I taught remedial mathematics and Algebra I. Other achievements include:
- Developing lesson plans that met individual student needs
- Encouraging creative thinking by introducing math problem-solving games
- Helping to establish an after-school coders and programmers club
I would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you to discuss how my skills and enthusiasm can meet the needs of your mathematics department. If you need any additional information, please do not hesitate to call me at 555-123-4567. Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.
The second example is for a candidate who is seeking a new job with eight years in the field:
Dear Principal Smith:
As a primary grades teacher for over 8 years, my commitment to teaching young students has continued to grow. It's exciting to watch those "aha! moments" after seeing a student struggle with a concept, and to help children develop their abilities and interests. I have dedicated my career to teaching first and second graders the skills they need to be successful as they progress through school, and I would love to continue that path with Anytown Elementary School.
In my current position, I teach reading, writing, math, science and social studies to first and second graders in a multi-age classroom. Over eight years of teaching, I've stayed up to date on pedagogy and teaching methods through conferences, workshops and independent study. I've also presented on reading instruction to educators at regional and state conferences, and would bring that expertise to your school.
I would love to continue my career as a teacher with Anytown Elementary School, with its reputation for helping every child achieve his or her potential. If you have any questions or if you need me to provide additional information, please don't hesitate to contact me. I appreciate your consideration and look forward to hearing from you to discuss this opportunity, and my qualifications, in greater detail.
Get Ready for an Interview
In addition to presenting a professional attitude and appearance, you can stand out at an interview with a strong portfolio. Put together a statement of teaching philosophy, unique lesson plans and anything else that will demonstrate your strengths and set you apart from other candidates. If you don't have teaching experience, documents such as certifications, Praxis results, transcripts and recommendations will be particularly important. Many districts now prefer to look at electronic portfolios, so if you're not a recent college grad, you may need some help in preparing one. Get help online, from colleagues or from local teacher organizations.
Your portfolio represents you as a professional, so make sure it is organized and complete. Allow yourself plenty of time to put it together so you're not scrambling the night before an interview. Remember that the goal of an education cover letter and resume is to get you a job interview, not a job. It's making a good impression at that face-to-face meeting that's going to land you the position.
Denise Dayton is a a freelance writer who specializes in business, education and technology. She has written for eHow.com, Library Journal, The Searcher, Bureau of Education and Research, and corporate clients.
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