Are you a middle school, high school, or college student who has been asked to submit a reference letter from a teacher as part of an application for a job or a volunteer position? Most teachers are more than willing to write reference letters (also known as a letter of recommendation) for students who have performed well in their classes.
Still, be aware that crafting an effective reference letter is a time-consuming task for teachers and one that's often completed outside of school hours. Since you're asking your teacher for a favor, it’s a smart idea to make this task as easy as possible. Find out what information to share to make the process as simple as possible for your teacher.
How to Help Your Teacher Help You
If you learn that you’ll need to provide a reference letter from a teacher as part of an application, don’t delay asking your teacher if they’ll supply one for you. No teacher, no matter how dedicated, will be happy if a student comes to them asking if they can write a letter of recommendation for them “by tomorrow.” Instead, give your teacher as much time as possible to write an effective letter for you.
There’s also certain information you’ll need to provide your teacher so that they can write an effective letter. This includes:
- The deadline by which the letter needs to be submitted
- The email or street address to which the letter should be sent
- The name of the organization you’re applying to
- The name of the person at the organization who will be reviewing your application
- The title and description of the position you’re applying for
- A list of the qualifications or skills that will be required for the position
- Your resume (if you have one)
If you don’t have a resume and are a high school or college student, then it’s time to develop one. You don’t need actual work experience to create your first resume; it’s enough to describe your schoolwork, personal academic or volunteer accomplishments, and participation in clubs or other organizations. If you’re a middle school student, you can simply give your teacher a list of activities you’re involved in – things like scouting, band, church groups, or sports.
The more information about yourself and your achievements that you can provide your teacher, the more detail they’ll be able to incorporate into their letter. Depth of detail can make all the difference in whether you land the role you’re applying for.
Sample Reference Letter from a Teacher
Take a look at this sample reference letter from a teacher. It demonstrates the sort of information your teacher will need in order to write a glowing letter for you. For instance, Katie may have reminded her teacher which classes she took and what grades she received in them. As well, Katie may have shared details on the position she's applying for and asked that the teacher emphasize her support strengths.
Download the reference letter template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online) or see below for more examples.
Sample Reference Letter From a Teacher (Text Version)
123 Main Street
Anytown, CA 12345
September 1, 2018
St. Francis Hospital
123 Business Rd.
Business City, NY 54321
Dear Mr. Lee:
I am writing this reference at the request of Katie Kingston, who is applying for the Student Volunteer Program at St. Francis Hospital this summer.
I have known Katie for two years in my capacity as a teacher at Smithtown Middle School. Katie took English and Spanish from me and earned superior grades in those classes. Based on Katie's grades, attendance, and class participation, I'd rate Katie's academic performance in my class as superior.
Katie has a number of strengths to offer an employer. Katie is always interested in supporting others. For example, this year when we worked on our class community service project, Katie was helpful to me in collecting and organizing the food for the food pantry here in Smithtown.
In conclusion, I would highly recommend Katie Kingston. If her performance in my class is any indication of how she'd perform in your position, Katie will be a positive addition to your organization. If you should need any additional information, you can feel free to contact me at 555-555-5555 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org anytime.
Susan Samuels (signature hard copy letter)
Smithtown Middle School