View Full Version : Which ref is best?

October 27th, 2013, 10:35
I've already speculated this to death, so I'm hoping a current or former JET could shed some light.
I'm applying for JET this year, and I've found myself in a quandary over who to ask for recommendation letters.

I work at a school, so I've already asked a coworker of mine (an English teacher who I've known most of my life, who's been at the school for decades, and whose class I've taught on multiple occasions, so she can testify to my competence, English proficiency, teaching skill, character, etc.).

I can't decide who to ask for the second, though. Here are the choices I'm mulling over:

Sensei - The Japanese teacher who knows me pretty well
Not *my* sensei, but she used to teach Japanese at the school I work for. In college I was her assistant teacher for class trips, so she has actually seen me teaching/working with kids, and also knows how much I want to go to Japan. She's also Japanese (born in Japan). Do you think that's an advantage at all? She would probably write her rec letter in Japanese.

My old boss - The one who knows me best and loves me, but is the furthest removed from Japan/Teaching
I worked in the corporate sector right out of college, and my bosses loved me. I'm still very good friends with one of them. She, out of all the options, probably knows me the best, and has seen me actually working (as opposed to just seeing 'oh, the kids know their stuff, the teacher must be good') and also knows my work ethic (since, again, she's observed me working more the most). She's brilliant, has all kinds of fancy degrees, and is pretty high up in the company. The downside is that she doesn't know anything about Japan or teaching. Would that make her the wrong choice, even though she could discuss my good points in the most detail?

I could also get letters from several other senior teachers at my school, but I figure these are the people who would have the most to say about me.

I guess in a nutshell, my question is this:
What should I prioritize more for letters of rec - how closely related the person is to JET (Japan, teaching, etc.), or how how detailed their knowledge of me, how I work, etc. is? Or should I just ask for both and then use the one that sounds the most cogent?

Thanks in advance!!

October 27th, 2013, 11:00
I would go with Boss. Then you get a well rounded reference. He can address your work ethics etc in a way the other two can't by not being your official superior. You will not only be teaching in your job as a JET. You will be interacting with the other people in your office. You will be expected to arrive to work on time, be professional, be responsible, and so on.

October 27th, 2013, 16:50
I agree w/ AVN as well. Your sensei doesn't carry as much carry as much weight.

October 27th, 2013, 21:25
Well you need 2 references so can't you just get one from each? :D

October 27th, 2013, 21:42
If you're working at a school and you don't get a reference from the principal or assistant principal they're going to wonder why not [I'm a teacher].

October 31st, 2013, 02:12
I have a related question. I, too, am desperately pondering my choices for second recommendation. I've been working as an Engineer, and my college swim coach who oversaw me teaching swim lessons died recently. This leaves me with just about nil in terms of someone who knows I have teaching experience. I want to ask my boss, because I know he'd give me a well written review, but at the same time, he also owns the company and would probably find a way to fire me without actually firing me, knowing that I was planning on leaving in a few months (if all goes well with the application.) Has anyone been in a similar spot? Advice would be appreciated.

October 31st, 2013, 06:18
Why do you need to find one who has seen you teach? Hell, I had teaching experience and didn't bother with using that person as a reference.

As for your current employer? Well, that's a risk you'll have to take.

October 31st, 2013, 21:57
Hmm. I guess I really don't need to use someone who has seen me teach. I had figured it couldn't hurt, but if other people with teaching experience opted for different references... Advice well taken, thanks.

November 14th, 2013, 07:08
I have reference question as well. My old boss is retired now. She doesn't have access to a letterhead. Will that be a problem? I know it said the reference letter had to be on their workplace's letterhead but since she is retired she doesn't have that anymore.

Will a simple letter suffice or will I need to go with another person as a reference?

November 14th, 2013, 09:34
If they can't use the letterhead, the reason why they can't just needs to be included in the letter.

November 15th, 2013, 07:46
That's what we figured, just wanted to be sure. Thanks!