How to Write a Cover Letter for a Teaching Job
Whether you’re fresh out of college or a veteran teacher, applying for a job can be stressful. While many prospective teachers worry about the job interview, you first need to attract a school’s interest. But even trickier may be how to write a cover letter for a teaching job. A cover letter is usually your first chance to make a good impression with a school.
Writing a memorable and effective cover letter can be challenging. You only have a few paragraphs to convince a principal or other decision-maker that you’re the best candidate for the job. You have to be concise but you also want to wow them.
If you’re ready to write a great cover letter that’ll make you stand out amongst the sea of applicants, read on to learn everything you need to know to write a great cover letter. Then, check out our sample cover letter to inspire your own letter.
What is a Cover Letter?
A cover letter is a one-page document that goes along with your job application and resume. You can think of it as a summary of your resume and application or as a way to briefly sell yourself for a particular job. It’s a way to go into a little more detail about the things you’ve listed on your application, present your personality, and discuss your thoughts on education.
In many cases, the hiring administrator may look at your cover letter first or read it after giving your resume a once-over. Thus, it’s an extremely important part of your application. You need to give a potential employee a good idea of who you are, what you can do, and why you’d be an asset for their school.
While you should definitely follow a template for your cover letter, as you don’t want to go so far outside the box that an employer may dismiss you, you should also make yourself stand out. If you’re applying in a competitive area, there are likely several other teachers with similar education and experience. You need to make yourself memorable so you’ll be called in for an interview.
Resume vs. Cover Letter: Which One Do You Need?
A resume is a list of your education, experience, and accomplishments. It’s everything that qualifies you for a job. It looks like a bulleted list and isn’t written in sentences.
A cover letter is more of a summary of what’s on your resume and touches on the parts of your resume that makes you highly qualified for a particular job. It also has some content that is specific to the school where you are applying.
In most situations, you’ll need both a resume and a cover letter. Both are essential to show a future employer why you’re the one for the job and work in conjunction to give them a good picture of who you are. Some employers may only look at one or the other, but it’s always a good idea to send both. Many applicants may only send a resume, so a cover letter could help you to stand out.
The good news is that you can usually have just one resume that you can submit for multiple jobs. You can keep parts of your cover letter the same for each application, but you’ll need to do some customization for each school.
What to Do Before Writing Your Cover Letter
It’s a good idea to get your resume together before writing a cover letter. Gather all of the relevant information about your past work experience, education, awards, and other relevant activities. You may need dates for each of these, so be sure to gather those as well.
Spend some time researching the school where you’re applying. Look on their website and social media to get an idea of the school’s mission and culture. Try to find areas where your talents and the school’s needs intersect. You’ll be a much more attractive candidate if you can offer the school something beyond just your teaching skills.
It can be time-consuming, but you need to do this research for each school where you’re applying. Administrators go through a lot of applications and they can spot a form letter a mile away. If there’s nothing customized to the school, it gives off the impression that you don’t care. Conversely, if you have a winning cover letter, you’ll stand out from all of the other form letters and you’ll be more likely to get called in for an interview.
Consider the Basic Rules of Selling
When writing a cover letter, it can be tempting to spend a lot of time on yourself – your experience, your accomplishments, your skill set, your certifications. However, the basic principles of selling say that you should focus on features and benefits. You don’t want to just tell an administrator what you can do. Instead, you want to show them why their school would benefit from having you on staff.
What to Include in Your Cover Letter for a Teaching Job
While you don’t want your cover letter to feel formulaic, there are certain elements that administrators will expect to see.
Below are some elements to include in your cover letter. While this list may seem like a lot, remember to keep your letter brief.
Be sure to give a brief overview of your education, particularly any education related to the teaching position. You don’t have to list out any schooling before college unless it’s relevant, such as you were a former student at the school.
Be sure to make it clear that you have all the necessary licenses and certifications to work in the district.
If you have any relevant awards or achievements, be sure to list them. For example, if you’re applying to be a French teacher and won a language award in college, that would be good to mention.
You’ll need a couple of sentences about your beliefs on education. You likely wrote a philosophy of education at some point in your college career, so you’ll just need to condense it down to a couple of sentences on your core beliefs. Bonus points if you can connect it to the school’s mission.
If you’ve been teaching for several years, you don’t have to detail all of your experience, but give an overview of what you’ve done. You can be more specific if it’s related to the position you’re applying for, i.e. you’re applying for a history position and you’ve taught history for six years.
As a first-year teacher, you’re probably nervous about your lack of teaching experience. Don’t worry too much – administrators know that everyone has to start somewhere. You can include your student teaching as your experience.
You should only list other work experience if it’s related to teaching. For example, you don’t need to include your summer working at a retail store, but if you were a camp counselor or tutor, those would be great additions, especially if you’re a first-year teacher.
Connect With the School
One of the most important things you can do is make some sort of connection with the specific school. Mention something interesting you noticed about them or connect with how your particular skillset can benefit their specific needs. The goal is to make sure the administration feels like you’ve spent time researching the school.
SAMPLE COVER LETTER
Below is a sample cover letter to guide you as you write your own.