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Recommending a colleague to be Teacher of the Year is an important responsibility and can also be a lot of fun! This lesson offers you an example of what your letter of recommendation might look like.

Teacher of the Year

Once in a while, as teachers, we come upon colleagues who are truly outstanding at their work. When this happens, it is a privilege to recommend them to receive awards, such as Teacher of the Year. Often, such an award or recognition involves letters of recommendation from peers that provide specific, relevant examples to persuade reviewers to honor a nominee.

While it can be great fun to recommend a colleague for recognition, it can also be a challenge. You may feel like singing a colleague’s praises, but it’s important to strike a balanced, professional tone. You want to provide specific examples keyed to the award criteria that really bring your colleague to life for an audience of readers who may not know your colleague personally. You can choose the best examples by doing your homework, for example, by reviewing the award criteria and your colleague’s resume.The sample letter of recommendation in this lesson shows what your letter might look like and gives you a sense of the general attributes that make a teacher recommendation letter successful. Your letter should include the following:

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  • Opening statement of recommendation
  • Description of how you are familiar with your colleague’s work
  • Discussion of why your colleague deserves the recognition
  • Closing statement of recommendation

Obviously, you will want to customize this general letter to reflect specifics about your colleague and the award criteria.

For example, you might add student achievement metrics, evidence of her students’ parents’ support for the school (e.g., volunteering), and a specific challenge that she helped a colleague meet.

Sample Letter

(Internal Address)(Date)Dear Principal Hooray,It is my privilege to recommend my colleague, Kate Jones, to receive the Teacher of the Year Award for our district. Kate has been teaching second grade at Cheerful Elementary for the last fifteen years, and I have been fortunate to know her for eight of those years. In that time, I have worked with Kate as a grade level colleague.

We have served together on the Diversity Committee at our school, and we have planned events for building community at our school. Kate has also been a mentor to me, sharing her curriculum plans, helping me build my lessons and develop my practice, and inviting me into her professional world. Because I know Kate’s work so well, I am convinced that she deserves this honor.Kate is one of those teachers you come across once in a great while. She is popular with students, families, and colleagues.Students love her because she is kind, loving, fun, and cares about them.

Kate gets to know every student in her class as a whole person. Kate is able to see exactly what each child brings to the community, and her whole teaching approach involves finding and using children’s unique strengths to help them overcome their struggles and develop a positive self-concept.At the same time, Kate has strong academic expectations and shows her students every day that she believes they can succeed. Even students who enter Kate’s class barely knowing the alphabet leave the year as bona fide readers. Kate is especially gifted at working with English language learners on their literacy, and I have watched her patiently work with many children at learning English and becoming strong readers and writers over the course of time in her class.

Kate is also gifted at working with families. She is patient and always makes the time to listen to families’ concerns for their children. I have never heard Kate breathe a word of judgement about a family. Rather, she takes families’ difficulties seriously and understands the ways the challenges of daily life can make it harder for a family to support their child. In many ways, she works as a social worker as well as a teacher, and it is because of Kate’s exemplary work that families feel such trust in our school.Finally, Kate is a superior leader among our colleagues. She is always available to discuss ideas, observe lessons, and share ideas about what does and does not work.

I have gone to Kate with so many struggles as a teacher, and she is always supportive and full of gentle advice that never fails to help.I feel lucky to have Kate as a colleague, and I wish there were more teachers like her. Please recognize her skills and devotion to teaching by honoring her with this award.Sincerely yours,(Signature)

Lesson Summary

It is a great honor to be asked to write a letter of recommendation for a fellow colleague, especially someone who is being nominated for Teacher of the Year. Your letter should include an opening statement of recommendation, a description of how you are familiar with your colleague’s work, discussion of why your colleague deserves the recognition, and a closing statement of recommendation. In addition, remember to take a balanced, professional tone and provide specific examples that speak to your colleague’s true character and teaching style.

Components of a Teacher of the Year Letter

Letter of recommendation description
  • Opening statement of recommendation
  • Description of your familiarity with your colleague’s work
  • Discussion of the reason that your colleague deserves the recognition
  • Closing statement of recommendation

Learning Outcomes

Studying the main aspects of this lesson could prepare you to:

  • Recall the components of a Teacher of the Year letter
  • Discuss some of the content that could be included in a such a letter
  • Recognize some of the qualities that a candidate for Teacher of the Year might possess

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