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If you have been asked to write a recommendation letter for a highly qualified teacher, more than likely it is not your first time writing a recommendation letter. However, there is a difference between writing a mediocre recommendation letter and an effective recommendation letter for a highly qualified teacher. You may be eager to recommend an outstanding teacher, but not sure about the format or words to use that will result in composing an outstanding letter.
Ask the teacher requesting the recommendation letter to give you details about who the letter is being submitted to and for what purpose. If the letter is for employment purposes, ask the teacher to provide the mission and values of the school in which they want to be hired. Also obtain a copy of the job description or job posting, along with information about why they feel they should be selected for the position. If the letter is being written for a teaching award or to be accepted into a master’s or doctoral program, you’ll need general information about the type of teaching award or program the teacher is applying for. The teacher should also give your their résumé, draft of a personal statement or bio and a list of relevant courses taken. Remember to find out the deadline for the application.
Writing the Letter
Once you have ascertained all the facts, start the opening of the letter with how you feel about submitting the recommendation. Examples, “It gives me great pleasure to write...” or “I am thrilled to submit this recommendation…" Next you should discuss how you are acquainted with the teacher, and how long you have known him or her. State why you are qualified to comment on the teacher’s qualifications and experience. Tailor your statements to discuss some of the teacher’s accomplishments or methods that he or she used to help students achieve their academic potential. Address any other skill sets as outlined in the job description, teaching award, or program acceptance criteria. Add specific, detailed, and relevant facts such as, “Over a five year span of time in which Jane Doe worked with special education and culturally diverse students, she received letters of appreciation from parents who were grateful to Ms. Doe for helping their children grasp complex concepts in social studies.”
Review the teacher’s personal statement and résumé to discuss their goals, credentials, and professional experience congruent to the school’s mission, values, and position requirements. Focus on the teacher’s strengths and how you witnessed them utilize their skills. For example, “John Doe’s greatest strength is his ability to communicate and connect with his students. I know firsthand that many of his former students still keep in touch with him regarding their success and progress in college.”
After you have provided compelling reasons for the teacher to be hired, selected for an award, or accepted into a program, state additional facts to describe why the teacher is highly qualified. These facts should include number of years of teaching experience, graduation with honors, subject matter expertise, participation in professional memberships, and workshops. Discuss unique experiences that will make them a valuable asset to the school or program.
State the basis for your recommendation using a powerful, confident statement. An example is, “Based on Jane Doe’s extraordinary knowledge, skills, and ability to teach effectively, there is no doubt in my mind that she is an outstanding educator who should be selected to teach at (blank). I highly recommend her for the position.” Always provide your contact information so that readers of the letter can contact you if they have further questions.
Charisse Ross is a certified Human Resource professional with more than 17 years in human resources consulting and career counseling experience. She has a Bachelor of Arts in human resources and a Masters in public administration. She is also a certified grant writer.