Do you have a concern about a student? If it is an immediate concern:Call Soora on 14000 - she will find one of us pretty quickly. Or come directly to the counselor suite. If it is not an immediate concern:Email the student's counselor. Wanna talk in person? Come and visit us or let us know that you want to talk, and we will come over to your classroom. We like to visit you too!!
Seminar Schedule - this is where you find out what is happening in seminar classes
Teacher Letters of Recommendation (2020/2021 Academic Year)
Students will ask you to write a recommendation letter for them. If you agree then they will ask you to sign their SFS Teacher Letter of Recommendation Agreement Form. You keep the bottom part of the form and the student submits the upper part to their counselor by Friday, March 13, 2020. Students have been asked to approach you in person at least a few weeks before the deadline to ask if you would be willing to write a letter for them. Please remember to keep some form of record of whom you have signed an agreement with. It might surprise you, but teachers do ask us every year to remind them of whom they have an agreement with. To help you write a really good recommendation, students will give you their SFS Student Resume (also by March 13, 2020). You can also choosea resume specific to your subject (see links at the bottom of this page)or a resumethat you have developed yourself. Please think about this carefully. The resume is supposed to help you write a favorable letter, so the items included should elicit the information that you feel is helpful in this regard. Please only ask the student to complete one resume, and please give it to them (email a copy or a link) when they approach you the first time, so that they have enough time to complete it. You decide how you want the student to submit the resume. It could be submitted as an email attachment, hardcopy, or uploaded to a google doc.
Recommendation letters will be uploaded to Maia Learning this year and we will provide clear and detailed instructions ahead of time. Leaving teachers will complete and upload their recommendation letters and the Common App Evaluation Form to Maia Learning by Friday May 15, 2020.
Returning teachers will complete and upload their recommendation letters to Maia Learning byFriday October 16, 2020. There are a few US universities (5 as far as we know) with October 15 deadline. If any of your students are applying to any of these 5 universities then we will let you know beforehand and ask you to provide these letters by October 4. Please write your letter using the SFS Letterhead or use this SFS Recommendation Letter Template. Remember to add your signature to the recommendation. Here is a guide on how to do that on your Mac.
Do colleges read these letters? Yes, usually twice and sometimes three times. If they ask for them, they want them.
Do they make a difference? Absolutely. It helps colleges put a student in context and understand how they learn and what they contribute to a class.
Will students see this letter? No. We request that students “waive their rights” to see the recommendation letters. Colleges believe they get a more honest appraisal when students waive their rights.
Can I refuse to write a letter? Yes. It is a recommendation. Can you, in good faith, recommend a student for college admissions purposes? If the answer is no, you should decline. If the answer is maybe, let’s talk.
What if the university is not in the USA? Prepare your letter as always and upload it to Maia Learning. Some Asian universities require an additional form. The students will bring that to you. Please give it directly to the counselor, not to the student or parents!
Teachers at SFS do not write school references for students applying to the UK. These references are written by the counselors based on supporting comments from teachers.
Below are some supporting resources that we hope will be useful for you as you sit down to write your letters.
Eight Tips for a Great Recommendation Letter from Tulane University:
Hey high school teachers! Today, we're talkin' teacher recs. This is actually the first time I've ever written a blog to this group of unsung heroes in the college application process. While I have never been a teacher myself, I can imagine that there are plenty of teachers who view writing countless recommendations as a pretty daunting task to add on top of your already full plates. This blog should shed some light onto what colleges are looking to glean from your letters and how you can write effective and informative letters on behalf of your students.
First off, I think it's important to mention that the vast majority of teacher recommendations we get are fantastic. Because of this, it's very rarely going to be this single letter of recommendation that becomes the deciding factor in an admission decision. Rather, they allow for our admission committee to gain a bit more insight into what the applicant is like aside from scores and grades. So if you're staring down a huge list of recs that need to be written between now and November, rest assured that you're making a great impact on this student but also you should not stress that the weight of your student's admission is resting on your shoulders.
So, here are some tips to get you going on this year's recs!
Share a specific story: We love it when teachers dive right in to a great story about an interaction or experience you had with this student. It keeps us reading and gives us a great picture of what the student is like. Rather than just stating the student's character traits, share a story that illustrates one of them.
Include a power line or two: When it boils down to it, once we read your letter, we're likely going to pull one or two lines from it that I like to call the "power lines." This is the one sentence or phrase that we'll copy into our summary and notes of the application, or the line that an admission officer will read aloud in committee when they present the applicant. Make sure you've got at least one noticeable power line that can be pulled out to summarize the whole letter. Like it or not, that one line is probably going to be the one that's shared when your letter is summarized. Chances are this line is in the first or last paragraph.
Consider your audience is probably a millennial: Here's something you might not have considered— a very large portion of folks who will have the first read of your letter are 24-year-old admission reps semi-fresh outta college. Plan accordingly.
Avoid application redundancy and remember this isn't a Counselor LoR: We get around 44,000 applications a year at Tulane and frankly, go through teacher LoRs fairly quickly. If we see the same achievements or same topic repeated, we might skim it. Connect with your student and school counselor so you can cross reference what you plan to write about with the student's essay, resume, short answer, etc. We've already got a list of their extracurricular activities and don't necessarily need you to repeat them all to us as they've been listed elsewhere in the app. We'd rather read about their academic character rather than a list of their achievements. Consult with your school counselor for support- one thing admission offices will often advise is that the Counselor LoR is the floodlight, the teacher LoR is the spotlight.
Talk up their academic experiences: Building off the above tip: we've got a letter from their school counselor that will mention some of the bigger picture stuff, so the teacher LoR is a good place to spotlight what kind of learner the student is: how they collaborate with others, how they participate in a discussion - do they take over the room, or deliver comments thoughtfully, include others, etc. Focus on the student's behavior, character, and ability to take academic risks in you class in particular. If you have taught the student for multiple years or know them outside of class as a faculty advisor, coach, club advisor, etc., it can certainly be relevant and appropriate to mention outside-of-the-class stuff, but the main focus should be on them as a student of Honors Chemistry or Precalculus or AP Latin.
Cut the Fluff: "My name is Dwight Schrute and I am a teacher at Scranton High School and I am writing a letter to support Michael Scott's admission to Tulane." We know all this already. We also don't necessarily need extensive background on your personal credentials or teaching history unless it's in the context of the student.
Ask the student for a "reflection sheet": Perhaps you ask your student complete a teacher 'reflection sheet' to help remember the good work the student did in the class or any 'ah-ha moments' or challenges/failures they overcame.
Keep it to a page: That's it really; just keep it to one page.
And now, a few ideas for how to get the ball rolling and the narrative written:
Tell us about how the student interacts with adults: We love learning about how the student carries themself around their elders (for lack of a better word.) We want to know what they'll be like once they arrive on our college campuses, so detailing a story about their maturity or interpersonal skills can be valuable to us.
Tell us about how the student interacts with people outside of their close social circle: How do they treat younger students? Students in different cliques? How do they treat your cafeteria staff? Their parents? Again, be sure you are making space for the counselor to share much of this, but if you have specific anecdotes about these, colleges won't mind getting your take too.
Some questions to ponder that we'd love to know the answer to: Has the student demonstrated a willingness to take intellectual risks and go beyond the normal classroom experience? Does the applicant have any unusual competence, talent or leadership abilities? Where have you seen them outside of the classroom? What motivates this person? What excites them?
By Friday, March 20th we will present you with a list of all Juniors applying to the UK next year as well as their chosen course (find students and their course under the item "The student you are submitting comments for" usingthis link). If you teach one or more of these students then you need to submit supporting comments (TOK and EE comments are optional). Your comments will be used by the HS counselors when we write the School Reference which is sent through UCAS (UK application portal) as part of the student's application to UK universities. New teachers (as of August 2020) are not required to submit UK Supporting Comments for students graduating in May 2021, but if you feel that you have something valuable to say about the student within your context then, by all means, do submit a paragraph.
The deadline for leaving teachers to submitting their Supporting Comments is Friday May 15, 2020. The deadline for returning teachers is Friday October 16, 2020.
Please be as detailed and comprehensive as possible when you write your comments. If you teach a subject that relates directly to the course the student is applying to then please provide at least two paragraphs with specific examples of the student’s performance/contributions in your course. If your are teaching Biology/Chemistry and your student is applying to Medicine then we would like a full recommendation letter from you. We might also request full letters for students that are applying to Oxbridge if your subject is directly related to the course the student is applying to. In that case, the counselor will reach out to you.
Use this linkto provide your comments. You probably want to write your comments in a word document first and then paste the comments onto the form using the link above.
PG Process and Timeline ( Academic Year):
September 19: PGs for students applying to Oxbridge and Medicine/Veterinary Science in the UK are collected from teachers individually.
September 23-27: Oxbridge/UK Medicine Applicants meet with their counselor individually to compare PGs with university requirements.
October 15: Teachers determine Predicted Grades for all Seniors
October 16-25: All other UK Applicants meet with their counselor individually to compare PGs with university requirements.
November 25:Predicted Grades updated for non-US applications (as needed)
March/April for Seniors - these are not sent to universities. They are sent to the IBO, and they not shared with students
December 2: Students' Internal SFS deadline for all North American/UK university applications and all other applications with January deadlines.
Note on UK Applications: UK universities base their conditional offers mainly on the student’s PGs. The personal statement and school reference also plays a part, but if students don’t meet the university’s minimum requirements then it is highly unlikely that they get a conditional offer. Teachers and students should have sound, educational discussions based on students' past demonstrated performance (numerical data is needed for these discussions). Teachers decide when and how these discussions will take place.
Under the G11 Counseling Page you will find PG Template forms for each subject which can be used to simplify and demystify the PG process for both students and teachers. These forms are introduced and explained to G11 students through seminars in January.
Here is a comprehensive studyconducted in 2019 illustrating the PGs process on both the high school side and the university side.
If a student gets emotional when finding out about their PGs then the teacher will let the student’s counselor know so that we can follow up with the student
If a student disagrees with the PG and gets into a conflicting situation with the teacher then the teacher and/or student should approach the counselor so we can help mediate
Begging, bargaining, or pressurizing is not acceptable and must be reported to Mr. Holcomb
If a teacher finds it difficult to decide on PGs then he/she should contact Mr. Kocyk for guidance