How to Ask Your Teachers For a Reference
A referee is an unrelated person who is willing to vouch for your character. When you apply for a job or scholarship, in addition to wanting to know about your skills, interests and experience, prospective employers and universities will often request a reference.
It’s fine to use a sports coach, supervisor from a volunteer role or even your family priest for a reference, but teachers are looked on very favourably. The reason teachers make excellent referees is because they know how conscientiously you’ve applied yourself to your schoolwork and how you relate to other people.
Even if you have a solid part-time employment history by the time you finish school, it’s always a good idea to get at least once academic reference from a teacher before you leave.
The First Step to Getting a Good Reference
Before you ask a teacher for a reference you need to be confident they will make positive comments about you. Teachers are not going to lie to help you get a job, which is why they are so valued as referees. If they can’t give positive feedback, they may simply refuse to speak on your behalf.
The first step to getting a good reference is to ensure you behave in a mature and respectful way at school. You can demonstrate this by:
- Being punctual to class and completing assignments on time
- Applying yourself to your studies to the best of your abilities
- Interacting politely with teachers and fellow students
- Taking part in extra-curricular activities
- Demonstrating leadership qualities
If you’re currently lacking in any of these areas, it’s not too late to change. Pinpoint what you need to work on and make the effort to improve. Employers will be impressed to learn about your self-improvement as this shows you have the ability to reflect on your behaviour and grow.
Choosing the Right Teacher
It’s not always wise to choose your favourite teacher as a referee. Think carefully about which teachers are most familiar with your abilities and your achievements. Consider which classes you excel in because these teachers will be able to give a more detailed account of your attainments and potential.
Also, consider which teachers have supervised you in extracurricular activities and are aware of your interests. They can provide a broader picture of you and comment honestly on your teamwork skills and work ethic.
It’s also important to have a genuine connection with your referee, so work on building strong relationships throughout your school years. Your teacher’s sincere regard and warmth will shine through in their reference.
The Best Time to Ask for a Reference
Before you ask for a reference, you need to be prepared. If it’s for a specific job or scholarship, make sure you have all the details. Teachers are very busy, so don’t wait until the last minute to ask. Give them plenty of advance notice as this shows you respect their time and will improve your chances of getting a great reference.
Some students provide a list of points they want their teacher to address, and this is perfectly acceptable. You may ask them to highlight significant achievements, projects you’ve worked on or contributions you’ve made to the class. You can also point out what you believe are your positive personal attributes. Many teachers welcome this approach as it makes writing a detailed and quality reference easier for them.
The way you approach your teacher will depend on your relationship with them. You may choose to ask them casually after class, make an appointment or send an email. As long as it’s done respectfully, you should ask in a way that is comfortable for you.
Don’t forget to thank your teacher for a positive reference. If they decline, handle it with grace and find someone else to ask. You can also request feedback as this will help you make positive changes for your future.
How a Tutor Can Help
A tutor can help by equipping you with the skills and self-discipline needed to get excellent academic references. At Tutor Doctor, our personalised learning plans are designed to help students achieve their full potential.
Contact us for a free consultation today.