If you feel destined to be standing in front of a classroom, you'll want to accomplish this goal as soon as possible. To get started, write a letter of intent for a teaching job at a school you have identified as a good professional and personal match. A letter of intent is similar to a cover letter, in which you present your interest in and credentials for a job. Since teaching is an inherently personal exchange, enliven your letter with your personality.
Open your letter on an attention-grabbing note by quickly summarizing who you are and the type of teaching job you want -- in other words, your intention. Highlight your most appealing offerings, even if you lack teaching experience. For example, you might say, “As a chief financial officer of a major corporation and the recipient of an MBA at a Big 10 university, I believe I would impart a wealth of real-world financial acumen to your students as an adjunct professor in your department.” Since letters of intent are often written in a “blind” manner -- not in response to a specific job posting -- it's doubly wise to avoid mentioning specific classes, because you might unwittingly eliminate teaching opportunities you don't know exist.
Highlight your relevant work experience, whether or not it includes classroom experience. Your resume will provide a comprehensive picture of your background; think of your letter of intent as a thick yellow marker that focuses attention only on your proudest accomplishments.
Make a swift reference to your college degrees, knowing it will be assumed -- though verified -- that you possess the proper credentials. It's more important to point out any distinctions or, to provide a graceful segue to the next paragraph, what happened while you were in college to plant the seed for your teaching aspirations.
Enlighten the recipient about the type of teacher you are and your values. Illustrate your points with a brief anecdote about a recent teaching experience. If this would be your first teaching job, share an anecdote that underscores your patience, enthusiasm or skill at instructing others. Express interest in “shadowing” a teacher or administrator at the school for a day to demonstrate your own enthusiasm for learning.
Close your letter of intent on a polite and optimistic note. Thank the recipient for considering you as an applicant. Say that you will follow up by phone in a few days so the recipient has time to speak with your references, which gently nudges her in the right direction. Integrate the thought of your references into a memorable last line, such as, “I am confident my references would agree I would make valuable contributions to your students” or “I believe they will attest to my skills and my passion for teaching, which I hope to share with students at your school.”
Few things can doom a letter of intent faster than impersonalness. Address your letter to a specific person, not “To Whom It May Concern” or “Recruiting Manager.” If you don't know who to direct your letter to, make a few phone calls to find out.
You may not end up framing your letter of intent, but you should be proud of it. Afford yourself the time you need to properly write and revise your letter until it sounds authentic and you are enthusiastic about sending it.
- Jetta Productions/Photodisc/Getty Images