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How to Write a Reference Letter for a Teaching Position

by Erin Schreiner, studioD

Landing a gig as a teacher can prove a difficult task. If you have the opportunity to help a would-be teacher obtain her dream job, writing a strong reference letter is an often an effective way to do so. With an appropriately elaborate and complimentary composition, you may bring that dream job into the teacher-to-be’s grasp.


Begin your letter with a clear explanation of your relationship to the candidate. If you have a pre-existing relationship with the individual outside of the professional world, you may omit discussion of this, or, at the least, downplay it. What is most important are your professional experiences with this candidate, and, as such, this is what you should focus on. When describing your relationship, use dates and periods of time instead of just saying broadly, “I was her cooperative teacher,” or “she volunteered at my school.”


Hiring committees are inundated with letters filled with broad compliments like “hard worker” or “dedicated.” Instead of making your letter just another of these vague -- and largely unhelpful -- correspondences, include some specific anecdotes. Describe experiences you have had with the teaching candidate that illustrate your assertions about her character and skills. Not only will the addition of these stories serve as proof that what you say is true, they will also make your letter more enjoyable to read.

Technological Competence

Regardless of the subject the candidate teaches, if she will teach in a 21st century school, she will need to know how to navigate technology. Because technology integration is so vital to contemporary schooling, it is appropriate to mention the candidate’s technology skills in your letter -- particularly if it is a particular strength. Be specific, stating which programs you have seen her use or what types of hardware she utilized during your experience with her.

Secondary Skills

When a school district hires a teacher, their primary concern is whether this individual will be able to effectively educate a class of students. This isn’t their only concern, however. Many schools seek candidate who can shoulder other burdens as well. If you have experience with the person you are recommending that suggests that she could coach a team, lead a club or develop a new program, state this in the letter of reference. By highlighting these bonus skills, you can make the candidate seem even more desirable.

About the Author

Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, Trails.com and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.

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