6 Tips for Writing a First-Year Teacher Cover Letter
by Mary Jacob McKinley
Entering the education field is exciting, but writing your first-year teacher cover letter can be daunting. In an entry-level teacher cover letter, you have to sell yourself and your love of teaching without having much experience to fall back on.
Learn our best cover letter writing tips to put together a compelling narrative for a first-year teacher with no experience in the classroom.
1. Get the formatting right
Every cover letter must include five key sections: a header, an opening greeting, an introductory paragraph, body paragraphs (one or two is sufficient), and a closing paragraph. Using a cover letter template can help you find the perfect format; a template can also help you out in the writing department. Your cover letter should have five sections:
- Header: Your header should include your contact information — name, email address, and phone number. It’s up to you whether to include your mailing address. It’s fallen out of common use, for privacy reasons tied to identity theft.
- Opening greeting: Address your cover letter to the hiring manager. If they’re not listed on the position description, make a phone call to see if you can find out who is leading the search, or do a LinkedIn search to see if you can find the right person. If all else fails, be as specific as possible about the school and department.
- Introductory paragraph: This is where you explain why you are interested in the job and you would be a good fit. Make a good first impression by demonstrating you’ve carefully read the description and thought about how your skills and experiences apply. Note the title of the job you are applying for in this paragraph.
- Body paragraph(s): This is the meat of your letter that provides more background on your most relevant experiences and qualifications summarized in your resume. Aim for one long body paragraph, or two brief body paragraphs.
- Closing paragraph: Restate why you would be a valuable addition to the team, thank the reader for their time, and note that you are excited about the prospect of coming aboard. You’re goal is to make the reader want to bring you in for an interview.
2. Demonstrate that you’re an excellent fit for the school
Spend time researching the school, as well as the person who will make the hiring decision. Scope out the school website and the LinkedIn profile of the person making the hiring decision.
Knowing a little bit about the person making the hiring decision will help you when it comes time to address the letter. It’s always best to address a cover letter to an actual person, and not use a boilerplate opening greeting like “Dear Hiring Manger.” Advertisement
Describe how you will fit into the culture of the school, and how your skills and experience will enhance the environment. Identify areas of the school programs you admire, and how you see yourself getting involved. Here are some examples:
- Your coding skills can help with the gaming club
- You hope to help the chorus with your musical background
- You played sports and would enjoy coaching a team
- As a gardener, you’d like to join the school’s endeavor to build a community garden
3. Be enthusiastic
As a first-time teacher, your cover letter introduction should let the hiring manager know why you decided to pursue a career in education. If you’re hoping to teach a specific subject, explain why you decided on that path. Elementary teachers should convey why they find joy in teaching the little ones all the basics. Don’t forget to be succinct — your cover letter should be concise and targeted, and address the needs and requirements profiled in the job advertisement.
Here are some examples of what may have made you decide on a career in education in the first place:
- Served as a youth counselor at a church or a camp every year during high school or college
- Volunteered with an after-school reading program at a local elementary school
- Tutored high school students in the ACT or SAT
You can also point to your student teaching experience to demonstrate the valuable lessons you learned, and how those lessons have equipped you to tackle the job you are going after.
4. Show your dedication
Administrations like knowing you’re willing to work through challenges to reach your goals. Teaching is a continuous cycle of overcoming obstacles and achieving goals. Where have you already accomplished this in your life? In your teacher cover letter, explain what you learned about yourself through that experience and how it will enrich your teaching and the skills you offer. Examples of activities that show commitment include:
- Hiking the Appalachian Trail
- Working with the Humane Society for multiple years
- Building houses with Habitat for Humanity every summer
5. Close with confidence
It may seem simple but let them know you’re expecting to hear back from them. Close your first-year teacher cover letter with an action-oriented phrase such as:
- “I look forward to hearing from you soon.”
- “I look forward to learning more about the school and culture.”
- “I look forward to discussing my future with you.”
Sign off with a professional closing, such as “sincerely.” And always make sure you note the best method of contact — list your preferred phone number or email address in your concluding paragraph.
6. Proofread your letter
Read your cover letter three or four times. Make yourself slow down and read each and every word, and each and every sentence. Read it once or twice, and then take a break and come back to it later. And read it again! Have someone else read over it as well. You can also consider putting an online grammar checker like Grammarly to use (if you can’t find someone else to give your letter a read).
Writing entry-level teacher cover letters can be stressful because you might not feel like you have the experience to back up your passion. Don’t let that keep you from selling yourself as a great educator. Be confident and honest, and your love of teaching will be evident. Tell a compelling story about yourself and how you can help the school and its students succeed. When you manage that, you’ll be on the right track to capturing the hiring manager’s attention.
This article touches only the tip of the cover letter iceberg. Check out our How to Write a Cover Letter page for additional information, and if you think you’ll need help with getting your letter across the finish line, use our Cover Letter Examples to get the job done.