Last week an ex-coworker and friend asked me to write a recommendation for him to supplement his application for a master of education program. I saw no problem writing the recommendation. I think the guy is a solid educator and I happen to like him so why not? It took me about an hour to do and when I stopped, the finished product looked and read like one of the recommendations I received when I applied for journalism school. I was fairly proud of my effort and how it turned out.

After having it looked over by a second set of eyes, I sent it out to my ex coworker. As I did that, I began to think about written recommendations. There are specific rules that guide us when asking for recommendations. We’re told to ask “someone who knows your work well,” or “someone who can speak about your experience.” Invariably this means asking a supervisor, but when my friend asked me to write him a recommendation I found myself pausing.

When did I become a part of that crowd of people who could recommend someone for something? Who am I, in the grand scheme of things, such that someone reading what I say about someone else can be taken as truth? I’m not an expert on education, I don’t have any degrees in ways to teach students. All I have is three years of experience trying to help high school students become better writers, how does that qualify me?

Well, the reality is it does qualify me. In this particular case, I have three years experience watching my friend interact with students and helping them learn. I may not have an M. Ed behind my name but I know what it takes to reach students and affect change in their ability to do something well.

I did not expect to write my first recommendation this past weekend. I always thought it would come years into my career as a sports journalist. I’d write a few words of praise for some young kid I met while covering a game. He was was working an internship for school credit. I liked his work ethic so when he asked me for a “rec” I had no problem doing it.

I loved my job tutoring in the public school system, and I’m enjoying my new gig doing the same thing at the collegiate level. But if I’m honest, I never thought of these jobs as things that would become my career. Yes, I know they are not a career just yet but based on my previous notions of when I would write my first recommendation it appears that these types of teaching jobs could become a career.

I guess it’s a bit unnerving knowing that someone thinks you know them and their work ethic well enough to laud them. I’m not sure how to react to someone having that level of confidence in me. I hope my friend and ex-coworker gets accepted into the master of education program. I am all for teachers being better educated so that they can better educate their students. We all know we need great teachers in the system. Hopefully, the few words I wrote will convince the decision-makers of this education program that my friend can be one of those great teachers.

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