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If you could write your own reference...

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by bananaloaf, Apr 29, 2011.

  1. The head at my current school has told me to write my own reference and he will sign it. English isn't his first language and it seems that this the way he's always done it.

    It seems a little daunting. This is my first time applying for International school positions (in Primary). I'll be using this reference for lots of different schools I imagine, so can't really tailor it like I would an application form. I hope this isn't too vague - there's lots of advice out there for International school application forms, but not much regarding this.

    My question is, if you could have a say in writing your reference for an International school position what would you want included / emphasised?
  2. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    As I'm not primary, I won't presume to tell you what should go in your reference. However, you need to be aware that many schools won't accept open references, or will still insist on speaking to the head of your previous school. So you need to let your current head know that prospective schools may still want to speak to him.
  3. This is not a good idea.
    Your Head should write it. Perhaps with help from a senior teacher with stronger English skills.
    If it is discovered that you wrote your reference the outcome will not be pretty.
    It's just not the done thing.
  4. On these threads, occassionally ([​IMG]) a poster will try to reinvent themselves and post as another handle. You would be surprised how quickly other posters recognise the 'morph' and even SMT/experienced but illiterate maths sorts working in Asia get found out toot bloody sweet. And have been humbled a little.
    It will be VERY obvious if you and not your head has written the reference. It will be in your style.
    Unless you write "He teach very good, I like - give heem job..."

  5. Arepa

    Arepa New commenter





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    This is one of those “grey areas” in international education
    that pop up from time to time. It is not uncommon for certain cultures to be
    uncomfortable or unused to writing recommendations. This was certainly the case
    at schools I worked at in Africa and Colombia where a simple certificate of
    employment was usually the most you could hope to receive. In addition to not understanding or feeling comfortable
    with the norms of UK or US recommendations, several of the Heads/Owners I
    worked with did not have sufficient command of written English to write an articulate recommendation
    (this was also the case, sadly, with the English Dept. Heads).

    There is also the issue of different cultural expectations.
    A reference from the US is likely to be
    much more glowing that one from the UK. Thus, referring to the applicant “walking
    on water” or, “a ministering angel” is
    not uncommon whilst a reference to mere competence is the kiss of death. UK
    referees are much more loathe to praise and to be more honest. My favorite
    being: “he speaks glibly, holds a glass of sherry with aplomb, but has as
    little interest in education as my cat.” I do wish I could have written that.

    Given the above, my personal advice in your specific
    situation, for what it is worth, would be to write your own recommendation. I would not want any other
    faculty to be involved in the process as they do not need to know what your
    Head really thinks of you (if you do have a SMT member articulate in writing
    English, have them write you a separate recommendation. It will not hurt). In writing it yourself, I would target it at
    the culture of the school you are applying to (US or UK). I would begin with a
    paragraph ranking you (he is in the top X% of all the teachers I have worked
    with in a career spanning X years. If you feel modest, you could leave the X%
    blank for your Head to fill out). I
    would then have paragraphs on your teaching ability, extra-curricular
    activities, collaboration and team work abilities, independence and need for
    little hand holding (important in international schools), and finally cultural
    sensitivity and flexibility (again vital—how upset will you be when you realize
    that photocopies are limited or that Marmite is unavailable!).

    I would also concur with David Getling who recommends that
    you inform your Head that schools might require addition contact with him. Good

  6. That American reference is pretty worrying. But not surprising. Any nation that eats food out of buckets has to find positives somewhere...
    The latter part is unprofessional? All Refs are supposed to outline the positives, surely?
    In other words, if the applicant was 'not strong' the referee might write 'such and such has been a teacher at this school since 2008 and is looking to further their career in a different environment'? What the ref doesn't say is the key.
    I have been asked for refs by staff who I did not rate at all. It was horrible. One was a telephone ref - I felt like David Cameron! The other wasn't so much the applicant but I knew the chap in charge of the teaching agency asking for the reference. Aaaaahh!
    I listened to a Principal 'say' (threaten) to all his staff....he winked and he smiled and said "Remember, I get to write a reference for you...". And it was not said in a supportive way.
    Still, he's mad in India now.
  7. How ironic - a poster not a thread or two away from here must have written their own reference...
  8. johnnersco

    johnnersco New commenter

    I tend to draft references and show to the person concerned. If, I do not really know the person (and I have been asked to write for teachers whom I have only known for a few months) then Iinsist on seeing them teach a class and usually ask for input eg...what whole school achievements do you wish to be included?

  9. johnnersco

    johnnersco New commenter

    And another thing. If you wish to expand to the whole of Latin America, rather than South America, then the alphabet school in San Salvador should be considered. With care the city ison safe and (more cynically) the school will be good your CV-

  10. johnnersco

    johnnersco New commenter

    Sorry, the previous posting was on the worng thread. The only excuse I have is that I have just got back from the local hostelry.
  11. Yes, I'm not overly thrilled at having to do this and I appreciate your concern. But this is the way he's always done it (at least for the past 3 teachers before me) so there's not much of a choice. References are not common in this country, and even with strong English skills I think most headteachers wouldn't know where to start. Back in the UK I knew a few teachers who'd written their own references. Of course I'll have him check it, show him a copy in his original language, and get him to make any changes.
  12. I don't think that you should ever consider doing this.
    If you can't use the head due to lack of English skills then approach another senior member of staff to be your referee...

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