The typical cover letter for a teaching assistant should include:
- Your skills
- Your experience
- Evidence of transferable skills
People working in classroom assistant jobs are expected to complete a formal application process similar to that for teachers, one that involves filling out an application form, completing a cover letter and attending an interview. The purpose of this process is to find out the strengths of a prospective classroom assistant before throwing them out there amongst the students.
Present in all formal applications will be a job description and person specification. These should be read carefully: skills, experience and characteristics should match the requirements and this will be apparent in a good cover letter.
Demonstrating excellent literacy and communication skills is simple: put together a great, well-written cover letter that makes its point clearly and succinctly, and don't forget to spell check. Similarly, organisational skills can be demonstrated by completing the form correctly and promptly; ensure all documents requested are submitted and have it to the school/recruiting organisation well before the deadline.
What to include in your cover letter
If the position applied for outlines specific skills and characteristics, it's essential that these skills are listed in the application. These could be: reading, writing and numeracy skills; communication skills; organisational skills; flexibility; creativity; the ability to effectively manage difficult behaviour; the ability to work with children and build good relationships with them; the ability to work well with adults.
Those with little classroom experience can still demonstrate experience of working with or at least spending time with children. This could be involvement in local Scout or Brownies groups, volunteering with reading at the local school or helping out with sports clubs or swimming clubs, or even something as simple as helping out on school trips: all this is relevant to an application as a classroom assistant.
"experience that doesn't involve children is also relevant to an application"
Informal experience with children, as well as experience that doesn't involve children at all, is also relevant to an application if worked into a cover letter correctly. Experience with younger siblings or one's own children displays experience and fondness for kids; including a few examples of structured activities the writer has organised and been responsible for helps, too.
Demonstrate transferable skills
Hobbies and previous jobs, if they illustrate organisational skills, flexibility or creativity, can also be successfully worked into a great cover letter for a classroom assistant position. A person who enjoys painting or scrap booking, for example, could put those skills to use in making classroom displays, while referring to a previous job as a secretary or a receptionist can illustrate the ability to work under pressure or diffuse difficult situations.
"always remember to be truthful when writing a cover letter"
Finally, always remember to be truthful when writing a cover letter, as this quality is possibly the most important of all for anyone working in a classroom environment. Ask a friend to read through the application before sending it, and don't be afraid to ask for an honest opinion. Don't discount the value of recruitment professionals either, as their advice can be invaluable in helping to source opportunities and review CVs.