The Difference Between Counselor and Teacher Recommendations Counselor letter gives overview of students academic and extracurricular life, identifies students passions and values, identifies essence of student, places him in contexts of school and community Teacher letter focuses on students role in the classroom, should be specific to the teachers class; identifies students intellectual qualities
What do Admissions Officers Hope to Find in a Good Teacher Recommendation? Honesty Information that is specific to the student Detailed picture of students intellectual ability, curiosity, critical thinking skills, passion to learn, work ethic, study habits, interpersonal interactions within your classroom, motivation, perseverance, creativity, etc. Information limited to the teachers classroom experience
Samples of Inadequate Letters of Recommendation: For the past two years I have had the pleasure of associating with _________ on a professional level. _______ has been a student in my Spanish II and Spanish III classes. She has that rare ability that coalesces a fine mind, an inexorable intellectual curiosity, and an affability that draws in the other students to her pursuits. In the end, she makes the students around her feel as if they have equally contributed. Any institution would be proud to count _______ as a member.
How does this letter measure up? I have known __________ as a student in my high school, where he was enrolled in a U.S.History class that I taught. He was with me his entire junior year. I have also observed _________ in performances of Chamber Choir. My exposure to __________ was not always positive. Although he is very bright, he did not always apply himself to his studies. Often he was late in turning in his written assignments. On the other hand, he often read ahead and was able to answer many questions. In fact, __________ is quite verbal. I often had to remind him to quit talking and laughing with his neighbor. He was seldom quiet for long. __________ is, at times, entertaining and at other times a pest. He gets along well with his peers but can also be disruptive. In speaking with his golf coach, I was told that the season would have been more enjoyable without _________. I believe he has a very high opinion of himself. Despite these concerns, I recommend __________ for your program and am certain that he will succeed.
(Continued) __________ is, at times, entertaining and at other times a pest. He does get along well with his peers but can also be disruptive. In speaking with his golf coach, I was told that the season would have been more enjoyable without _________. I believe he has a very high opinion of himself. Despite these concerns, I recommend ________ for your program and am certain that he will succeed.
And This One? I am delighted to recommend _________ to your fine institution. I have known _________ for two years and can honestly say that he is one of the finest students we have ever had at our school. He has my full support in the college application process. ________ will be a source of pride to whichever institution he chooses to attend. Sincerely,
So, What Should a Teacher Recommendation Accomplish? 1.Be an advocate for the student. If you cant say anything positive about the student, dont agree to write for him. Suggest that he ask another teacher to write his recommendation. 2.Describe briefly the culture of your classroom in terms of your teaching style, expectations, and types of assignments. 3.Include anecdotal information about the student and his performance in your class.
Teacher Recommendations: 4. Whenever possible, be evaluative and make comparative statements, such as highest grade on the exam, or leader of class discussions, or one of only two As I gave that semester. 5. If you have particular knowledge of why a student is likely to be successful at a particular institution, mention it in your letter. 6.Limit your letter to one page, and keep a copy for future reference.
Teacher Recommendations: 7. Dont be afraid to describe a bad grade. Sometimes a comment about a poor grade can be more helpful and revealing than comments about a good grade. 8. Dont gush or make comments that appear too personal (Weve enjoyed a close relationship.) 9. Dont include a students physical description unless its important to the context of your class.
Qualities to Highlight: Achievement Analytical ability Originality Creativity Problem-solving ability Research skills Communication skills Effectiveness in class discussions Insight Thoroughness
A Look at the Classroom Résumé Purpose of the resume – to refresh your memory of the students performance in your class To allow the student to give the teacher his perspective of the classroom experience To help the teacher identify students strengths, challenges, intellectual qualities
Sample Response to Classroom Résumé (on handout)
Structure for a Teacher Recommendation Introduction: Identify the class in which you taught the student, its goals, challenges, the skills you emphasize, your experience in teaching your subject. Body: Describe the student in the context of your class, highlighting students qualities as specifically as possible, giving anecdotes about students performance on papers, projects, and class participation, etc. Conclusion: Summarize your assessment of the students ability; offer a realistic opinion of students ability to succeed in college.
Final Tips for Teacher Recommendations: Follow the principles of good writing: be concise, to the point, and grammatically correct. Use active verbs and few adjectives. Know your audience and keep them in mind. Provide relevant information. When writing for a weaker student, highlight strengths and discuss weaknesses. Beware of the crystal ball syndrome: I know he will improve next semester. Proofread your recommendation, and proofread it again.
Examples of Effective Teacher Recommendations : (on handouts)
Value of an Effective Teacher Recommendation : Helps admission officer understand how the student thinks and performs in the classroom Fills in the academic details of the students profilecolleges are looking for students above all else
Contact Information Peggy Johnson Director of College Counseling Saint Marys Hall 9401 Starcrest Drive San Antonio, TX 78217 210-483-9250 firstname.lastname@example.org Kathy Schmidt Assistant Director of College Counseling Saint Marys Hall 9401 Starcrest Drive San Antonio, TX 78217 210-483-9228 email@example.com