3 Must Knows for Great Teacher Recommendations
What every parent wants to hear is . . .
"Sign that young lady up!"
"Gotta have him at this school."
"Wow, this child sounds amazing."
And of course . . .
"That kid must have great parents!"
Every year our teens go in search of recommendations. Whether it is to get into college, that organization, or that job, getting great written support letters are more actively sought than tickets to the latest hot-commodity pop star's concert. (Side bonus point here: this information can work for we parents too when we need to solicit support!)
How Do Our Teens Get Good Recommendations from Superiors?
It won't come as any surprise that having set up a good relationship first, where the teacher really knows your teen, is the best advice. Perhaps your teen has already done so. If not, the double payoff of helping your teen learn self-confidence through talking with their teachers and ultimately helping them when the "ask" of a recommendation comes along, should provide enough encouragement for your teen to start this process now.
Of course, some teens may not have built teacher relationships. Does that mean "it's over, they are sunk"? No, of course not.
Whether they have those relationships or not, executing these 3 moves below will go along way in helping those teachers get a successful letter written on behalf of your teen.
1. Provide details in a letter to the teacher
Help the teacher out. Odds are high that they have many letters to write and when your teen writes a lovely letter to the teacher with tidbits that the teacher might want to use in their recommendation letter, you've helped that teacher tremendously. Your teen could thank them for writing the letter (assuming the teacher has said yes) and also include in the letter:
- What they learned of significance in this teacher's class
- How they improved in terms of specific skills during the school year
- What they did out of class that applied to what they learned in class
2. Give your teacher an information packet
Anything your teen can do to help this teacher save time will help. Create a small folder with items they could use to help: (some schools will vary here, so read this from the perspective of your teen's school.
- schools or organizations in which they are applying, including address
- any deadlines
- any details on specific departments the letter also needs to go to (ex: admissions and the music department)
- resumes and any information to help the teacher write the letter (see #1)
- stamped, addressed envelopes if that's how your teen's school operates
3. Give the Teacher Enough Lead Time
It's sadly not well known, but teachers truly have very little time. They arrive at school much earlier than your teen, and they probably take home work at night to grade in addition to covering lesson plans due for the next day. Some schools publish how far in advance to ask for a letter of recommendation. If we parents of potential college students (or any other organization) were honest, we and our teens know months in advance what schools need what paperwork and when. Why not have your teen go ahead and get this part of the application process going. At the very least, 6 weeks lead time for the "ask" to write the letter would be helpful.
- The folder and the letter to the teacher of course must be gracious and should include a "pre-thank you."
- In our opinion, a mandatory thank you note to each teacher writing the actual letters after the letter has been written makes perfect sense. Note that some schools will have a formal "send to colleges" process and you will never see the letter. In fact, most will and that's ultimately a good thing for your teen. If a college (or organization) feels that the letter was seen by the teen and/or parents before it reaches them, they tend to discount it a bit.
What we get asked frequently
What are important lessons I need to teach my child before they fly? We've put together some teaching points and how to get started here.
Enjoy this last season with your teen and we hope we've helped your teen garner stronger recommendations for whatever they dream of doing.
Have a great week. And as we say ...
You CAN Have Success in the Middle of it ALL !
Pam and Holly
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PS 2: Free Parent Guide
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Who Is JellyGeneration?
Pam Hardison, MBA, BBA in Finance and Business Education, has created and co-owned a national mail order catalog which at one point was the 21st fastest growing customerbase in the nation. As a mom of two college-post college daughters, considers it a privilege and to meet other students and parents along the same road. After teaching high school and college students for years, her commitment to helping them with topics most schools can't cover is the light that drives her.
Holly Powers, Attorney-At-Law (Jameson & Powers, P.C.) has been actively practicing law since 1985 and is a shareholder with the law firm of Jameson & Powers, P.C. The firm specializes in transactional law, health care law, and general business law. Holly has taught students precepts concerning the legal world for over 10 years. With 4 children, she understands what teens need to know and has a passion to help others faced with teens and aging parents.
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