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Teacher Cover Letter Length

Whether you're a recent graduate pursuing your first full-time teaching job or a veteran educator, you can benefit from polishing your resume to attract the best job opportunities. Make sure you display the following on your resume, and see our sample resume for a teacher: 

A Passion for Teaching

"Showing passion for what you do is important in any field, but in education, this is doubly so," says Candace Davies, owner of A+ Resumes for Teachers. Davies has developed hundreds of resumes for K-12 and college educators.

"Your resume needs to communicate your commitment to student success, teaching and learning,” she says. “It needs to show that you're in the classroom for the right reasons."

You can demonstrate your passion for teaching by incorporating your teaching philosophy in your resume's career summary. You can use the Objective field on the Monster Resume Builder for this. Here's how a music teacher highlighted his passion for teaching in his summary section:

"Dynamic music educator with five years of experience developing acclaimed instrumental, band and general music programs. Passion for teaching and helping young people grow as musicians -- committed to providing a nurturing environment maximizing the potential of every child. Run positive, focused and energized rehearsals that motivate students to perform at personal-best levels and foster a lifelong appreciation for music."

Prominently Featured Credentials

Teachers are in the education business, so it makes sense to use a resume strategy that highlights your academic credentials. "You want your credentials, certifications and degrees on the first page under your opening resume profile," says Davies. On your Monster resume, you can incorporate your most important teaching credentials in your qualifications summary, which can be part of your Objective field.

Key Accomplishments

"Teachers must have strong, accomplishments-based resumes," says Davies. An example is a district with low reading scores that is looking for a teacher to help raise them. "A resume that shows documented success doing this is certain to achieve sustained interest," she says.

Even if you're a recent graduate, you can include accomplishments. "Use your practicum/intern experience, and treat it just like a job on your resume," Davies advises, adding that you can excerpt quotes from practicum evaluations or classroom observations.

Ask yourself the following questions to uncover your accomplishments:

  • Have you led any in-service training workshops for teacher colleagues? Covering what topics?
  • Have you developed/led any after-school programs or extracurricular activities? Highlight these to show your willingness to meet student needs.
  • Do you have specialty expertise in particular teaching methods or approaches?
  • Do you have a track record of elevating average student scores on standardized tests? If so, by how much?
  • Have you developed creative curricula or lesson plans that were particularly successful or adopted school- or district-wide? What were they? How did they improve on what was there before?
  • Have you kept current with your own continuing education?
  • Did you increase parental involvement or strengthen school-community ties? How?
  • Have you been asked to serve as a mentor or peer tutor to new teachers?
  • Have you incorporated any technology enhancements to promote learning across the curriculum? What did you do, and what were the outcomes?
  • Do you have experience teaching in mainstream classrooms or gifted/talented programs? Have you taught special-needs students, at-risk youth, ESL/ESOL learners or some other distinct population?

Keyword Density

"Teachers need to include keywords on their resumes," Davies says. Keywords, which include industry-specific terms, jargon and acronyms, are especially important in today's high tech world, where resumes are scanned and stored in computer databases. When there's a job opening, electronic resumes are sorted and prioritized using keyword search terms.

In Davies' experience, many teachers assume their expertise in areas like curriculum design, lesson planning and classroom management -- all keywords -- don’t need to be spelled out on their resumes. But that’s a big mistake, she says.

"We're in an era now where most districts want you to post your resume online,” advises Davies. “And that means they're scanning them. If you don't have keywords in your document, your resume won't be found in the database."

Sample Education-Specific Resume Keywords

Teaching and learning, curriculum development, curriculum planning, curriculum design, creative lesson planning, in-service leadership, peer tutoring, peer mentoring, lead teacher, teacher-parent relations, special needs students, gifted/talented students, ESL/ESOL students, student success, testing, learner assessment, technology integration, classroom management, classroom monitoring, discipline strategies, student involvement, parental involvement, instruction, teaching across the curriculum, interdisciplinary teaching approaches, K-12, mainstream, inclusion, brain-based learning.

Learn more about education careers.


Quite simply, teachers rock. They give us so many of the tools we need to get by in life, and in the most Hollywood-ready moments, inspire us to get into poetry and stand on desks. But while we, as a society, see teachers at the head of the classroom, imparting the knowledge one needs to get by in this world, we might not think of the hiring process it takes to get there. But the reality is that every teacher had to go through the very ordinary hiring process to get their jobs, just like everyone else. If you’re a teacher, you want your cover letter to rock every bit as much as you do.

First let’s start with the basics of a good cover letter, and what that means for your job search as an educator.

Necessity #1: A Personalized Introduction

If you’re a teacher, your most basic goal is (most likely) to get a job teaching. Great—it’s the same goal as every other person applying for this open position. Your more specific goal with your cover letter is to make sure that your name and qualifications are as memorable as possible, setting a tone that the reader can carry over into reading your resume. This means that you need to engage the reader up front.

Whenever possible, make sure you’re addressing your letter (or email, if you’re being all modern about it) to someone specific. Before you start putting together your resume/cover letter package, do a little legwork about who will likely be reading this. If the job listing includes a specific name, great! You’re all set. If not, it’s worth doing a little digging online to see who will be on the receiving end.

It’s also important to use the right tone. Definitely don’t go too casual. The fact that you’re likely submitting these online, or writing an email, can lead to a false sense of shortcut familiarity. So even if you’re submitting your cover letter and resume digitally, treat the email like a regular letter.

Potential Obstacle

You’re working with an entirely online application process, with no visibility into who might be reading this. If that’s the case, and all you know is the school or school system where you’re applying, try to find information online about who has hiring responsibility for the school district. If that, too fails, go with a generic address like, “Greetings.” It’s not ideal, but it feels less stiff and formal than the old favorite, “to whom it may concern.”

Good salutation examples:

  • Dear Ms. Rodriguez,
  •  Dear Principal Rodriguez,
  •  Greetings, Ms. Rodriguez,

Bad salutation examples:

  • Dear Mudville Public Schools Administrator (too vague/impersonal)
  •  To Ms. Rodriguez, Superintendent of Mudville Public Schools (too formal—you’re not introducing royalty at a state dinner)
  •  Hi: (too impersonal/casual)
  •  To Whom It May Concern: (too formal/too impersonal)

You want your cover letter to seem professional, but approachable. The salutation helps set that tone. If you make it seem too much like an impersonal form letter, or the stiff letter of a person who is uncomfortable talking about this job application, you run the risk of not engaging the reader. And I think we all know what happens to application packages that don’t engage the reader. (Spoiler alert: they don’t get read.)

Necessity #2: Your Elevator Pitch

You’re an educator. You teach. That may be your elevator pitch in its simplest form, but this is your chance to add some necessary color. You should also be very specific about which position for which you’re applying, because there may be other openings in a variety of different teaching roles. If you think you’re applying for the high school English job and somehow your application gets routed to the pile for the elementary school gym teacher position, your very specific letter ensures that you’ll get to the right hands. Your resume would likely do this as well, but this helps the reader know up front that what position you’re seeking, and why.

And above all, make sure you’re proofreading your letter—and ideally, having a trusted friend look at it as well to make sure you haven’t missed anything. Unfairly or not, teachers are held to the highest standards of grammar and written communication, regardless of whether they teach writing or physics. You know and I know that teachers are human, and prone to mistakes like the rest of us, but you can avoid a lot uncomfortable, unforced errors by adding some extra care with your cover letter.

Good pitch example:

As a secondary math teacher for more than 10 years, I’ve found that my passion for (and commitment to teaching) have only grown with every year. Even with the complexities of the current educational landscape, the feeling of getting through to that student who just wasn’t “getting the hang of it,” or helping advanced students achieve their goals, never gets old. I have dedicated my career to helping students of all levels master the math skills and concepts they need to go on to college and everyday life beyond high school, and would love to continue that path with Mudville High School.

In my current position, I teach algebra, pre-calculus, and calculus to students in grades 9 through 12. Over my ten years of teaching, I’ve made it a point to stay up to date on the most current pedagogy and teaching methods, and use custom lesson planning to develop relevant curricula for students in order to maximize their engagement on complex concepts. I’ve also presented on curriculum planning at the National Federation of Teachers conference, and would bring that enthusiasm and expertise to your school.

Bad pitch examples:

I would love to teach at your school. Please see my attached CV, and let me know if you have any questions.

This is way too little information. Who are you? What experience do you bring? What are you hoping to accomplish in this job? It shouldn’t be a novel about your life, but you should be providing some context for your resume.

Teaching has been my only consuming passion in life. I eat, drink, sleep, and breathe calculus, and will not rest until all of my students are proficient. I have ten years of experience, and will bring nothing but focus and devotion to my next ten years as a math teacher at Mudville High School.

Too…intense. You want to position yourself as a strong candidate, but that doesn’t mean you have to pretend that you don’t have outside skills, interests, or…down time. Readers can see through hyperbole, so it’s best to find a balance between enthusiasm (a necessary part of any job application) and an exaggerated over-sell.

Necessity #3: A Strong Finish

Always have a closing that leaves room for follow-up. Yes, the reader knows that they can email you with any questions, but it’s a conversational way to close out the letter and move the reader on to your resume.

Good closing example:

I would love continue my career as an educator with Mudville Public Schools, with its strong reputation for putting students first. If you have any additional questions or if there’s any additional information I can provide, please don’t hesitate to let me know. I look forward to hearing more about this teaching opportunity.

Bad closing examples:

  • Please let me know more about this job opening. Thanks.
  • I expect to hear from you within a week. Thank you.

In these examples, one teacher suggests that she has put thought and consideration into applying for this particular job. The other teachers, well…one closes with the most generic exit possible, and this adds nothing to the cover letter. In the second bad example, it comes off as too demanding, like the writer is evaluating the reader, not vice versa. I know it can be frustrating when you send your application package into the void and don’t hear back right away, but demanding a response doesn’t guarantee you’ll get one.

A strong closing is important, as it’s one of the few remaining elements between the cover and the resume.

Necessity #4: Keep It Clean

Like with your resume, you want your cover letter to be clear and easy to read. That means:

  • A standard font. This is not the time to test out “fun” fonts. Pick something clean and basic, like Times.
  • No huge blocks of text. In a letter, unbroken paragraphs can look like the ramblings of a manifesto. You want your reader to see a series of separate, elegantly outlined points. Short paragraphs, 2-3 at most.
  • Short length. A cover letter should never be more than a page, and even a full page is definitely pushing it. Brevity is the soul of wit, and the friend of application readers everywhere.

Good letter body example:

As a secondary math teacher for more than 10 years, I’ve found that my passion for (and commitment to teaching) have only grown with every year. Even with the complexities of the current educational landscape, the feeling of getting through to that student who just wasn’t “getting the hang of it,” or helping advanced students achieve their goals, never gets old. I have dedicated my career to helping students of all levels master the math skills and concepts they need to go on to college and everyday life beyond high school, and would love to continue that path with Mudville High School.

 In my current position, I teach algebra, pre-calculus, and calculus to students in grades 9 through 12. Over my ten years of teaching, I’ve made it a point to stay up to date on the most current pedagogy and teaching methods, and use custom lesson planning to develop relevant curricula for students in order to maximize their engagement on complex concepts. I’ve also presented on curriculum planning at the National Federation of Teachers conference, and would bring that enthusiasm and expertise to your school.

 I would love continue my career as an educator with Mudville Public Schools, with its strong reputation for putting students first. If you have any additional questions or if there’s any additional information I can provide, please don’t hesitate to let me know. I look forward to hearing more about this teaching opportunity.

Bad letter body example:

As a secondary math teacher for more than 10 years, I’ve found that my passion for (and commitment to teaching) have only grown with every year. Even with the complexities of the current educational landscape, the feeling of getting through to that student who just wasn’t “getting the hang of it,” or helping advanced students achieve their goals, never gets old. I have dedicated my career to helping students of all levels master the math skills and concepts they need to go on to college and everyday life beyond high school, and would love to continue that path with Mudville High School. In my current position, I teach algebra, pre-calculus, and calculus to students in grades 9 through 12. Over my ten years of teaching, I’ve made it a point to stay up to date on the most current pedagogy and teaching methods, and use custom lesson planning to develop relevant curricula for students in order to maximize their engagement on complex concepts. I’ve also presented on curriculum planning at the National Federation of Teachers conference, and would bring that enthusiasm and expertise to your school. I would love continue my career as an educator with Mudville Public Schools, with its strong reputation for putting students first. If you have any additional questions or if there’s any additional information I can provide, please don’t hesitate to let me know. I look forward to hearing more about this teaching opportunity.

One of these letters is clear and readable. The other is not. If the reader can’t get through your letter and know several things about you right away, it decreases the odds that your resume will click with him or her—and may even prevent someone from looking at the attached resume at all.

Once you’ve got the body of the letter in shape, all that’s left is the closing. Like the salutation, you want to err on the side of formal, but friendly.

Good closing examples:

  • Best wishes,
  •  Sincerely,

Bad examples:

  • Thanks. (brusque tone)
  • Fondest wishes, (too flowery)
  •  [name—no greeting] (too abrupt)
  •  Let me know, (too informal and oddly personal)

And with that, you’ve got your cover letter! Teachers are taking on an incredible commitment, and that means that those hiring them are looking for the most put-together, obviously qualified applicants available. You can have an amazing resume, but if you aren’t making your case with your cover letter, you’re missing out on an opportunity to really set the narrative and the tone for your application.

Let’s take a last look at the good sample cover letter as a whole:

 Dear Principal Rodriquez,

 As a secondary math teacher for more than 10 years, I’ve found that my passion for (and commitment to teaching) have only grown with every year. Even with the complexities of the current educational landscape, the feeling of getting through to that student who just wasn’t “getting the hang of it,” or helping advanced students achieve their goals, never gets old. I have dedicated my career to helping students of all levels master the math skills and concepts they need to go on to college and everyday life beyond high school, and would love to continue that path with Mudville High School.

In my current position, I teach algebra, pre-calculus, and calculus to students in grades 9 through 12. Over my ten years of teaching, I’ve made it a point to stay up to date on the most current pedagogy and teaching methods, and use custom lesson planning to develop relevant curricula for students in order to maximize their engagement on complex concepts. I’ve also presented on curriculum planning at the National Federation of Teachers conference, and would bring that enthusiasm and expertise to your school.

I would love continue my career as an educator with Mudville Public Schools, with its strong reputation for putting students first. If you have any additional questions or if there’s any additional information I can provide, please don’t hesitate to let me know. Thanks for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing more about this teaching opportunity.

 Sincerely,

Rosemarie Jones

 

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