Writer’s Workshop: How to write a cover letter that will get you into the classroom.
Educators have a strategy for everything. Surprisingly, principals report many cover letters being an informational dump peppered with school mission vocabulary. How do you make yourself stand out authentically and get into the classroom?
A cover letter goes beyond solidifying the details that are on your resume. Hopefully, it goes without saying it should be captivating and personalized to each organization. The truth is a cover letter is a sales pitch. Many educators don’t consider themselves salesmen. However, educators sell information every day, at times to an audience that is not so interested in what they are selling (Hey kids, who wants to learn the distributive property?).
In this writer’s workshop, we will be learning how to write a cover letter using the AIDA formula that will get you into the classroom. AIDA is an acronym which stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. It is a not so secret formula in the business world that professional marketers have been successfully using for many years.
As with any strategy, the AIDA formula should be personalized to your style and voice. Make sure you are thoroughly reading the entire hiring summary and researching the school. You must also consider your audience, you are not writing to a broad-gauged school entity, but the real-life person you will be working under or closely with.
The AIDA formula will help you analyze the mindset of the organization and individual hiring you. We will now walk you through the process of composing a cover letter using this strategy.
Educators are experts at crafting a hook to engage their learners. Now it’s time to craft a “hook” to grab your reader’s attention in your cover letter. In the AIDA strategy, you can grab an organization’s attention in a number of ways that suit your communication style and personality as a professional.
There are many different ways to grab your reader’s attention. We are going to highlight a few. One way is using an anecdote. Choosing a compelling story that will also highlight some of your best qualities as a professional and educator.
Example of using an anecdote:
As a fourth-grade teacher, I am constantly challenged in surprising ways. One year, I had a student with significant needs in my class. On top of having an IEP, he was also an EL student. Many of the materials and activities I had provided for my students were causing frustration for him, and distraction to the students around him. I worked to build a rapport and learn about the student. I partnered with his case manager after school to create a menu of activities that he could access in class. His parents and case manager reported they had never seen him smile so much in class. Over the course of the year, the student grew 2.4 years of growth in math and finished on grade level.
The writer demonstrates they can go above and beyond for their students and have to data to back it up. They have knowledge and understanding of integrated special education. They communicate they believe in an inclusive environment, as well as individualized learning. They demonstrate they have the skills to adapt to different learners, as well as collaborate with case managers and families in the best interest of students.
This is just one example, there are other ways to write your introductory hook, not just using anecdotes. You can share an important piece of research in education that guides your instruction. Or a current news article that is causing waves in the international school scene. Regardless of what you use to grab your reader’s attention, it should be relevant to both the school and you.
Now that you have managed to grab your reader’s attention, it’s time to maintain their interest. Although you are likely a wonderful educator, they don’t know you … yet. In this paragraph, you will focus on what they are seeking, and then begin making connections to your experience, qualifications, achievements, etc. in the hopes of garnering their interest. If you make a claim, bring the “receipts”, show through actions how your experience matches their needs. Remember to keep the perspective of your audience in mind. Think of their needs as a school, and the individual hiring you. That means, keep those “I” heavy sentences to a minimum.
You are seeking a middle school science teacher for your IB program. As a recently “green dot certified school” you are likely seeking to bring onboard an educator with experience in sustainability and green initiatives. I’m confident your school will benefit from my certifications in Circular Systems in Sustainable Development and the successful implementation of green initiatives...
This excerpt shows that the individual researched the organization and knows they went through a recent certification process. One can find such information on a school’s website or social media such as Twitter or LinkedIn. It shows they are aligned with the vision for sustainability and how they add value to their ongoing initiatives.
NOTE: Your hook and attention should flow together and complement each other. The two examples shown so far would not be in the same cover letter.
It’s time to create a desire to employ you as an educator. This is where doing your homework will really help you. You will need to analyze the key points they are hiring for and then speak to them. This will also include the school’s mission and vision, and considering what that will really mean for you as a professional in the role they are seeking. When addressing the key points of a job, mission, culture, etc, ensure you are backing up all of your claims with evidence.
A top tier international school such as yours is looking for a third-grade teacher who implements best practices, ensure high achievement and growth for students, and are proactive members in its community. In the past year as an elementary lead teacher I have:
● Organized and facilitated a two-day science inquiry-based learning training for all educators on my team.
● Implemented a self-directed data-driven academic intervention for students in my classroom scoring below the 30th percentile on MAP, resulting in a 1.6-year growth average in Math and Reading.
● Member of the Schedule Committee, we both increased instructional time for students and planning time for teachers, by creating and implementing an elementary wide non-teaching duty schedule.
In this section, you will demonstrate how what you’ve achieved or the training you have done connect to what they are seeking. Each example listed is correlated to a claim the writer made about something that makes them desirable. Say for example you notice the school had a recent post on Linkedin about an IB science training, this would demonstrate that you would align with their direction. By creating a desire that aligns with their mission and vision, you are leading them to the conclusion, that you truly are the best person for this job. You can also write this in a paragraph. Feel free to expand on some items on your resume or make connections to points you are trying to make. However, make sure that you’re writing remains engaging and to the point.
Now it’s time to seal the deal. Up to this point, you have your reader’s attention, interest, and hopefully a desire to employ you. In your call to action, it’s an opportunity to showcase your professionalism and collaboration style. Don’t be a pushy salesman, you have already sold your skills and value. This is a good stopping point for your cover letter. Make sure you include your contact information.
As an educator, if there’s one thing I am sure of it’s how to help students find their voice and success in the classroom. I would love the opportunity to discuss your vision for a learning support teacher and establish a mutual interest.
The writer succinctly closes their letter with a statement that is both personal and professional. This phrasing also puts students first and indicates that hiring them is mutually beneficial. They are wrapping up the letter with a clear call to action, to communicate with them about a specific role.
In summary, the AIDA strategy is a great way to showcase your organization, communication skills and achievements to a new school. Teach All Over the World is a website dedicated to connecting curious teachers to amazing teaching opportunities all over the world.
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Elementary Educator- Over 10 years of education experience in diverse roles in Japan, Taiwan, Nicaragua, Guatemala, USA, and currently in Spain.