Some employers trust oral interviews rather than written character references when hiring a new worker and deciding whether they have enough experience for this or that position. The main reason is that some former employers are not creative enough—they use samples with many clichés that give only general information about a worker without highlighting their specific professional skills.
A written character reference is also known as a recommendation (or reference) letter. If you are seeking employment, we highly advise you to have such a free letter of recommendation template for use to your advantage. To create a letter that characterizes you as a professional and experienced employee rather than a purely formalistic letter, you need to follow certain rules and recommendations.
This article focuses on requirements for reference letters for different types of teachers. Every employer that is hiring an educator wants to ensure effective interaction of their students with the teacher. Thus, we aim to help teachers get a job and help employers gain more confidence in the applicant’s professionalism.
We will provide key points concerning the document and three samples in which you will find ready-made phrases for different teacher recommendation letters. If you intend to prepare such a letter, we encourage you to read the article till the end to understand how to do it correctly.
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As we have already mentioned, we will consider all possible issues that might arise when creating a recommendation letter. Below are the most relevant information and basic requirements for the paper.
Why Does a Teacher Need a Recommendation Letter?
A letter of recommendation for a teacher is typically used when an experienced teacher wants to change working conditions by applying for a new job in the education field. In some cases, it is a mandatory requirement during the application process. In other situations, it is the teacher’s personal choice to provide a reference letter. Regardless of the situation, it is better to submit the document to enhance your chances of being hired.
The paper can also be used when a teacher has no experience and wants to find a job after graduating. The document shows that the applicant has acquired all the necessary skills and theoretical knowledge and can work effectively.
Who Can Create a Reference Letter?
Remember that the letter works best only if it comes from a reputable source. We strongly recommend that you request the principal to write the paper and describe your abilities and professional skills—potential employers are likely to trust their colleagues. However, you are allowed to ask another experienced teacher (or co-worker) who has worked with you and knows how you deal with students.
If you are a recent graduate applying for a job with no experience, the ideal option for you is to ask your supervisor or another professor to create the document. In any case, it is better to ask a professional educator, especially if they are popular in educational circles.
Another option is to ask a parent of one of your students to describe you as an educator and tell a potential employer about the student’s achievements resulting from your teaching work.
How Long Should a Recommendation Letter Be?
A reference letter should not be longer than one page—it should consist of 300-500 words. A longer document can discourage the reader from reviewing it effectively. Thus, when writing a letter, you should include only relevant information and avoid unnecessary details.
All reference letters, including teacher recommendation letters, must be specific. Those who make them should provide details specific to the candidate. If the letter contains general information, the potential employer is likely to reject it. Below is a checklist with all the mandatory information required. Once you have completed writing the letter, make sure you have included all the following details:
As a principal or colleague (or any other person creating the letter), you should introduce yourself for the recipient to understand that the letter comes from a credible source. It is also mandatory to include the applicant’s name for the addressee to identify them among other candidates. Also, make sure that you have written the recipient’s name; otherwise, the letter may get into the wrong person’s hands.
As the author of the letter, you should prove that you have the authority to offer such a letter. It is advised to state what position you occupy at the institution where the teacher was previously employed (it is better to provide a letter from a person of a higher rank). You should also state what type of relationship you have with the applicant and how long you have known them. Are they your former employee or student? All details regarding your interactions are important.
When writing a recommendation letter for a teacher, always consider the job the teacher is applying for as all the qualities and skills you mention must be applicable to this particular job. For example, if the teacher wants to work with students with special needs, state if the applicant can find an individual approach to each student. Include other skills and qualities relevant for all types of teaching jobs, such as organizing skills, creativity, personal charm, multitasking, engaging speaking skills, the ability to give detailed feedback and integrate technology into the classroom, and so on.
It would help if you showed the recipient that you are ready to answer any question they might have. Remember to include your contact details, like email address and phone number, so that the reader could contact you to check the source and make sure that the letter is not written and signed by the candidate.
Another requirement is to place your signature at the bottom of the letter and indicate the current calendar date of creation.
All the items mentioned above help create the teacher’s positive and credible image and, therefore, are essential. In the next part of our article, you will find information about including all the details in the letter properly.
Most recommendation letters have a rigid and logical structure. The process of creating a letter becomes easier if you have a certain plan in mind. Once you have found out what details your letter should contain, all you need to do is arrange all the paragraphs correctly. For those who have written a least one academic essay, the structure we are going to present may seem familiar.
At the top of the letter, write the name of the document. You have several options, but the most common names are “Teacher Recommendation Letter” (the word “recommendation” can be substituted by “reference”) or “Letter of Recommendation for a Teacher Position.”
Underneath the name, at the left of the document, you should write the date the letter was written, your full legal name, title, the name of the school where you work, and your full physical address (including street name, city, state, and Zip Code). Each piece of information is typically written on a separate line. At the end of the article, you will find several samples with properly arranged lines in the heading.
In this part of the letter, first and foremost, you should address the recipient. You can begin with “Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. Smith”. If you are writing a general letter that is not addressed to a particular individual, you can use a cliché phrase found in our samples.
Then, you should start a new line and introduce the applicant for whom you are writing the letter. Besides the name, include the previous position (for example, “1st Grade Teacher”) and the type of school where the teacher was employed.
At the beginning of the letter, specify the nature and duration of your relationship with the teacher. The longer the period you have been in contact with the applicant, the more confidence the reference letter will instill.
In the main part of the letter, you should write about the teacher’s positive experience in the previous position. It is always a good idea to indicate the duration they have served in that position and school. The longer the employment period, the more experienced the teacher is considered to be.
You need to provide a positive evaluation of the teacher’s performance at school and enumerate relevant skills. Take the time to mention the applicant’s contribution outside the classroom. For example, do not ignore the fact that the teacher participated in the organization of school events or represented the school at international competitions, conferences, contributed to the school community, or raised the status of the school.
After describing the teacher’s personality as an educator, provide a summary of all the skills and traits and say how they can come in handy in the new position. For instance, if the teacher is seeking employment at an online school, speak about the teacher’s ability to incorporate technology into the lessons or the teacher’s knowledge of relevant online programs and apps.
For every teacher, it is important to keep up with the latest tendencies in teaching methods and approaches. Therefore, you should highlight the teacher’s ability to adapt to new environments and conditions and the desire to self-educate and self-improve.
In this paragraph, you can also write about the teacher’s responsibilities at the previous educational institution and provide examples showing the extent to which they fulfilled all the obligations.
The concluding paragraph should be brief. State the reason you recommend the applicant by summing up all the characteristics mentioned above. Furthermore, demonstrate your willingness to answer the recipient’s questions and leave your contact details. Below the paragraph, write a thanksgiving and closing phrase. Finally, affix your signature and write your name and title underneath it.
Let us clarify what is recommended for a credible reference letter and how to make a potential employer develop a positive attitude towards the applicant:
Now, we will provide several samples for your convenience and show how everything mentioned above works in practice. You can either input your data in our samples if they suit your situation or use them as a source of inspiration and create a unique letter.
April 18, 2020
Central Elementary School
900 7th Street
Wamego, KS 66547
To Whom It May Concern,
It is my pleasure to write this recommendation letter in favor of ____________________(the applicant’s full name) for the position of an elementary teacher at _____________________ (the name of the potential educational institution). As principal of Central Elementary School, I have had the pleasure of working with ____________________(the applicant’s name) for the past ten years. During that time, I had the opportunity to watch him/her develop professionally and maintain personal growth.
____________________(the applicant’s full name) has always demonstrated outstanding skills and abilities in teaching young learners. ____________________(the applicant’s name) is the most creative and caring teacher I’ve ever worked with. The teacher is able to engage young students in various activities and maintain discipline in large classes. When there is a need to work as a substitute teacher, ____________________(the applicant’s name) can always adapt to a new class and make a good impression on each student.
As a teacher with 10 years of experience, ____________________(the applicant’s name) is able to find an individual approach if necessary. Once, the teacher came to me with an idea to teach a student who lagged behind the other classmates differently. ____________________(the applicant’s name) suggested giving extra lessons for free. By the end of the year, the student managed to achieve the best test results in her class.
When presenting and explaining new material to his/her young learners, the teacher uses technological devices and innovative methods to help the students grasp the material quickly. Even on a sick leave, ____________________(the applicant’s name) gave Zoom lessons and used the “green screen” feature to display images and videos as the background.
I am absolutely confident that ____________________(the applicant’s name) is suitable for your position. As a diligent and hard-working employee, ____________________(the applicant’s name) has never been reprimanded or dismissed. You can rest assured that under the guidance of ____________________,(the applicant’s name) your young learners will always be in a safe environment and in a positive atmosphere.
If you have any follow-up questions or need more information, do not hesitate to contact me at _________________(email address or phone number)
Mrs. Molly Smith
July 15, 2019
High School Teacher
Crawford High School
4191 Colts Way
San Diego, CA 92115
To Whom It May Concern,
I am writing this letter at the request of ____________________(the applicant’s full name), my colleague, who is applying for a position of high school teacher at ____________________ (the name of the school). I have known ____________________(the applicant’s name) for five years and heartily wish we could continue working together and sharing our teaching experience. At ____________________ (the name of the school), ____________________(the applicant’s name) worked as a Math teacher and dealt with sophomore students and I had frequent opportunities to observe ____________________(the applicant’s name) in action.
During the whole period of co-working, ____________________(the applicant’s name) demonstrated great knowledge of students’ psychological peculiarities and impressive teaching skills, thus acting as an example for other fellow teachers, including me. ____________________’s (the applicant’s name) lesson styles and methods could involve even the most indifferent students in learning activities. Students that were not skillful at other subjects always got perfect scores in Math tests.
If students had difficulties in fulfilling their obligations or in learning subject material, ____________________ (the applicant’s name) always tried to connect with parents and suggested cooperative work to solve a problem. The teacher’s caring nature was highly valued by the student’s parents, who always left positive reviews and comments on the teacher’s Internet page.
Commitment to student’s success and devotion to teaching are the essential qualities that employers are looking for in every potential teacher. Thus, without doubt, ____________________(the applicant’s name) is a perfect candidate for you. If you want to know more about the teacher’s experience and contribution, you can reach me at _________________(email address or phone number).
High School Teacher
July 15, 2019
Brehm Preparatory School
950 S Brehm Ln,
Carbondale, IL 62901
To Whom It May Concern,
My name is Margaret Hernandez, Principal at Brehm Preparatory School for students with special needs. I highly recommend ____________________(the applicant’s full name) for the position of a sixth-grade special education teacher at your school. I have known him/her for seven years. During that time, ____________________(the applicant’s name) always tried to ensure effective communication. As a principal who has seen many teachers come and go, I can claim with great certainty that ____________________(the applicant’s name) is a kind of teacher I would never let go. Difficult life circumstances made ____________________(the applicant’s name) move to another city, thus, we departed on good terms.
During my working relationships with ____________________(the applicant’s name), the candidate was never late for classes. ____________________(the applicant’s name) carried out all the teacher’s obligations with great diligence and the sense of responsibility. Besides being an excellent school teacher, ____________________(the applicant’s name) eagerly participated in school events and took up the responsibility to organize school competitions, conferences and other events not related to ____________________’s (the applicant’s name) teaching subject. ____________________ (the applicant’s name) wrote eloquent articles in our school newspaper for students to read during their break time.
Apart from being a cooperative staff member, ____________________ (the applicant’s name) is a gifted educator. Working with students with special needs always requires patience and compassion. ____________________ (the applicant’s name) always acted as a caring teacher and displayed great talents in teaching students with learning difficulties and managing the emotional atmosphere in class. His/her motto is never to give up on a child even when it seems that there is no way out. One of his/her students with Down’s Syndrome has become a successful actress just because ____________________ (the applicant’s name) managed to start developing the student’s creative and artistic skills after ____________________ (the applicant’s name) saw the student’s interest in the activity.
I strongly believe that ____________________ (the applicant’s name) will make a significant contribution to your school community and encourage students to learn and develop. Though I wish I could keep ____________________ (the applicant’s name) in their current position, I highly recommend this candidate to you without reservation. If you want to get more details, do not hesitate to text or call me. I will leave my contact details below.
_________________(email and phone number)