This webpage contains advice for people asking for a teaching letter
of recommendation from me or someone like me.
Large portions of this have been rather shamelessly copied and adapted from Ravi Vakil's recommendations page.
The following statement is rather obvious, but a reasonable
number of people seem not to have considered it:
it is in your interest to make your busy letter
writer's job as easy as possible.
Please give me as much notice as possible so I can write
as detailed a letter as I would like.
At least 4-6 weeks is reasonable. If you ask me on less than a month's notice,
you should expect the letter to be submitted late.
If you give me
too little notice, your letter will necessarily be rushed, which
does no one any good. Sending me your support materials a week
before the deadline is not a good idea.
(The number of letters varies widely by individual. If you need
a letter on short notice, you should strongly consider asking someone else.)
want to help your recommender write as detailed a letter as
possible. Here are things that would help me.
Only some may apply to you. I will likely only start writing
your letter once I have all the information I would like --- there
is always someone else's letter I can write first.
- CV/resume -- include all teaching, dating back to undergrad or before, including both formal and informal experiences; please note any departmental awards won
- Everything you will submit with the teaching side of your application
(e.g. teaching statement, or teaching portfolio if applicable);
very good drafts will do in a pinch. Corollary:
finish your part of the application early.
- For the two (or more) most recent quarters you've taught, the PDFs of all "comments" from your teaching evaluations, and XLS data files containing all quantitative "ratings" data -- all of which can be downloaded from your Axess account. (You may not have known that even if you worked for me during the quarter(s) in question, I don't have access to this information unless you send it to me.)
- If you have taught a course with me: please tell me what class,
and which quarter you taught it. But please consider the fact that even if we've worked together, it's highly likely I've never seen you lead a class. Which leads to...
- If you are teaching a section this quarter, I would like to come see you teach, so that I can enhance your letter with a first-hand description of your teaching abilities. So please tell me where and when you're teaching; I'll also probably follow-up with you afterward to talk about the class I watched. (If you've videoed a prior teaching experience and have a copy, I could view this as a fallback.) If I can't see you teach before your application due date, I won't be able to include an account like this in your letter; thus, please consider inviting me to come see you before your final year, especially since you may not be teaching in the Fall quarter.
- Where are you applying (e.g. list of schools)?
Are there any that deserve special mention for some reason?
- When do you need the letter by (e.g. when should
it be in the mail)? How do I get it to where it needs to go?
(On a related note: it is the responsibility of the applicant
to keep reminding the writer about the deadline. I've been
very good in the past, but with many letters, there's always the
chance something bad might happen.)
- Is there anything in particular you would like me to address?
Are there particular qualities you would prefer that I discuss?
- Any other information that might have a chance of helping me
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