Positive recommendations come from great teaching experiences. Maximize your chances of getting powerful recommendations and increasing your odds of getting the job that you want by doing the following:
• Know yourself. What are your strengths? Weaknesses? Areas of progress?
• Openly communicate your strengths with your supervising teacher, giving him/her something to look for in your student teaching and the chance to provide you with detailed feedback.
• Build a solid mentoring relationship with your supervising teacher. This person will be providing your most important reference or letter of recommendation, carrying a great deal of weight with potential employers. Your student-teaching experience is the best indicator of what kind of teacher you will be.
• Build your relationship by practicing effective communication with your cooperating teacher. What do they love most and least about teaching? What do they see as the biggest challenges facing education? What is their philosophy of teaching? How do they balance career and personal life? This will show your genuine interest in him/her as a person, as well as the field of education as a whole.
• Take advantage of every opportunity to build upon this relationship and to gather additional information about the teaching profession. People are flattered when you take an interest in them and the information you get will be very beneficial.
• Get to know as many other teachers at the school as you can and be helpful to your (overworked and busy!) colleagues. The more people who are commenting on your skills and willingness to help, the more information your supervising teaching will have for your reference. This will also help you to build a network of teaching professionals to assist you in the job search.
• Seek feedback early and often. This will help you to know what you are doing well, and where you may need to improve. No one expects you to be perfect. If there is a problem - address it, learn from it and try to turn it into a positive learning experience.
By starting early and laying a solid foundation, you will increase your chances of a positive student teaching experience and therefore your chances of positive references. Know yourself, build relationships, seek feedback and you will not only cultivate powerful recommendations but you will improve your odds of getting a great job you love!
Director, Career Center
The opinions expressed in Career Corner are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.