I've had the honor and privelege of teaching many students - some of them for two years or more. Fall is the time when I generally receive requests for Letters of Recommendation.
In general, I am happy to write one for you; however, please ask me and I will let you know if I feel I am the best possible teacher to do so.
After checking with me, please read the following directions very carefully:
1. You must give me at least 3 weeks prior to the deadline to write your letter. I need to have some flexibility, as my schedule can become quite hectic. Plan ahead, as I will not make any exceptions to this rule.
2. Put all the information which I request into an envelope large enough to hold all the materials without folding.
3. On the front of the envelope, write the following:
The name of each school to which you are applying
The due date for each letter.
4. Inside the envelope, you should put the forms which you want me to fill out. Please fill out EVERYTHING you can. Your name and information, my name and the school name and address, etc. EVERYTHING.
5. A copy of your resume. This must include, but is not limited to, your educational background, your GPA, your scores on ACT/PSAT, Regents, AP Exams, your extracurricular activities, awards, and any other school activities which you want to include.
6. Write me a note about your time in class. I am not looking for a love note or an assessment of my teaching skills (though both are super flattering, just so you know!). I want some data points regarding what you have contributed in class. A research project that you feel illustrates your best work, some point with which your peers were particularly impressed, a tremendously brilliant wisecrack, etc. Otherwise, we run the risk of my only being able to cite the grade you have received in my class.
7. I need to know why you want to go to this particular school. Bullet points are fine. e.g. Is there something at the school which fits your aspirations in biology?
8. If we are operating via snail mail, I need to have stamped pre-addressed envelopes for each school. Paper clip the forms together with the appropriate envelope. The envelopes should be the ones which are pre-glued, requiring me only to unzip the flap before sealing.
9. If we are operating via email, I still need the information listed above. And, I still need it at least three weeks prior to the due date. Just because it is online does not make the letter any less difficult or time consuming to write.
10. Finally, I want to know what happens to you in this process. I spend a lot of time translating my fondness for you into a letter. Not to put it too bluntly, but I get really bummed when I write a recommendation and then never hear back about the results. I have a vested interest in your success--keep me in mind, too. And, always feel free to check back and let me know how you're progressing once you are out there in that wonderful world!
Many thanks - and good luck!