Cover letter writing tips
Your cover letter is as important as your resume and references. In it, you have basically two purposes:
- to convey some information
- to distinguish yourself from many other candidates by giving a sense of your philosophy of education and teaching
Topics for your letter
- What position you are searching for
- A summary of your educational and work experience
- Why you are committed to teaching and your philosophy of teaching your subject. What do you love about teaching a specific grade or subject? What do you want your students to learn from their experience with you? What do you believe students of a particular age need?
- Why you are interested in independent schools and/or the kind of independent school you hope to teach in (This section can be brief—a few sentences—but should indicate some knowledge of independent schools and what they have to offer).
Though your cover letter should refer to your educational and work experience, don’t simply repeat information contained in your resume. Instead, use this letter to highlight something about your background, experience or philosophy. The highlight doesn’t have to be an extraordinary accomplishment. It should simply be something that helps to convey you as a person and professional, and to distinguish you from other candidates. Below are some examples of interesting features in a candidate’s background:
- work or education in countries other than the US
- teaching experience in 2 or 3 different kinds of schools
- work experience other than teaching
Whatever you highlight, briefly state what you learned from these experiences, and how they might contribute to your success and/your philosophy as a teacher.
You can also use your cover letter to highlight an aspect of your classroom practice or philosophy, rather than your background. What do you do in the classroom and why?
The cover letter is also the place to address any questions which might arise from your resume: reasons why you have changed positions several times; a significant gap in your resume; your interest in moving to NYC to teach. Address such questions briefly but precisely.
If you are a recent college graduate and are applying for a Lower School Associate or Assistant position, use your letter to make a few key points about your experiences with children, and what you think you can contribute to an independent school
Keep in mind that your cover letter is also a writing sample. It should be concise—no more than one page.
Your letter should be formal in tone (not conversational), well-written and completely free of any errors (spelling, typos, grammar). After you have drafted and spell checked, ask someone whose judgment you trust to proofread it.
Include your contact information (email and telephone) on your letter as well as on your resume.