June 5, 2008 at 5:46 pm 1 comment

A pivotal part of this teacherly job hunt has been the collection of recommendation letters. Urban School District prefers what is called a “closed placement file,” which means that my letter writers sent their contributions to a neutral third party (in my case, the university career center) who then sends the letters to districts on my behalf. I am not permitted to see the letters; the idea is that the job hunter will then be unable to cherry-pick the “best” letters for his/her packet. (Hopefully, an applicant would know who will write strong letters, thus rendering this precaution somewhat arbitrary.)

In my case, most of my letter-writers voluntarily offered me personal copies of their letters. In fact, two of them showed me drafts and asked if there was anything I would suggest, and one wrote his letter while I sat in the next chair. (That was uncomfortable – but a good idea; he was able to ask me clarifying questions that helped him focus his letter.)

Ultimately, I asked for and received letters from my mentor teacher, my university supervisor, the principal of CHS, one of my favorite education professors, and one of my favorite English professors. I was fortunate enough to be able to read all of these letters except the principal’s; my mentor spoke to him, however, and indicated that the letter would have been a strong one.

Today I went by CHS to take care of some business in preparation for summer teaching, and there was a folder waiting for me from one of the assistant principals. I opened it and found an unsolicited letter of recommendation. It’s clearly not a form letter – in fact, it indicates a level of familiarity with my work that I hadn’t realized the AP had. It is a very nice, very strong letter. Perhaps my favorite line comes near the end:

I strongly recommend her for a teaching position and know that this is the kind of person that gives back to people and the institution way more than she ever takes.

I would definitely like to think that this is the case. I’m the sort of teacher who really buys into the school culture; you’ll see me at games, performances, graduations – and not because I feel obligated, but because I enjoy them. I wear school colors, adopt the mascot, pay attention to matters of school politics and development. I love to build programs and events. Most of all, I genuinely love the students and care about them as people. I’m so interested in who they are outside and beyond the classroom. The hardest thing for me is when the kids walk out of the room at the end of the year, and I am uncertain if I will ever know what becomes of them.

Anyway. I am just blown away at the AP’s gesture. It always makes you feel good to get a strong recommendation letter, but this goes above and beyond that. For a busy assistant principal to take the time to write a lengthy personal letter, under his own volition and without my request – that says something. It makes me feel really good that he noticed me, was pleased with what he saw, and wants to help me find a position.


Entry filed under: JOB HUNT. Tags: , , .

Pomp, Circumstance, and Two Districts DIY Flower Pens

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. everydayjae  |  June 6, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    Thanks for reading!

    And good luck with the continued job hunt!


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The Bee’s Knees

This is the teaching journal of a student first-year second-year THIRD-YEAR (!!!) English teacher. I am writing this blog as a reflection for myself, a way to keep friends and family updated, and a sharing-ground between other educators online. I love comments!

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