One of the mild annoyances that comes with teaching high school is the annual ritual of writing letters of recommendation. I honestly don’t mind writing them, especially for my students who work so incredibly hard. I write a pretty good letter, I think, but my writing process (like my drawing process) is torturously slow. It’s not uncommon for me to spend almost 3 hours on a letter. I’m not sure if that’s a lot or not–it seems like it is–but it’s important to me to write these letters really well. My main thought is that if kids can give me hundreds of hours on projects, I can return the favor with a couple of hours spent on something so important.
That philosophy, however, comes with the caveat that YOU CAN’T ASK FOR A LETTER THE WEEK THAT IT IS DUE! The impetus for this post was a holiday weekend request for a letter due that day. That day. I’ve never told a student no, but this was the first time. Sometimes a request can be too much. She eventually got her letter, but it was late, and it was an old letter with the new name copied and pasted all over it.
I realize that some teachers have an official process for students requesting a letter of recommendation, asking for information about interests and activities, grades, etc. I don’t do that; I feel like I know students well enough to make that process superfluous. I do save old letters, and take ideas from those letters, but as nothing more than a starting point.
That being said, if anyone wants an example of an old letter or five, I’d be happy to pass them along. Shoot me an e-mail and I can send them your way. I can sometimes craft a pretty good letter of recommendation :)