This weekend, we were writing up Chris's cover letter for his application to this teaching job. Chris was having trouble focusing all of his ideas about what ought to go in the letter and so, after we did a bunch of brainstorming, I had him sit down and write a paragraph describing (in his own words -- I could edit it into formal language afterwards) what it is about him that they've already liked so much, and why he would be a good fit at this school.
I don't know what I was expecting, even though the main characteristics that we were trying to emphasise were his enthusiasm and his creativity. The paragraph that he ended up writing suprised me, however. It was perfect. He explained that what excited him about their new program is the fact that they're proposing to blend together the subjects as much as possible. He stated that he has been interested in adapting curriculum to make the subjects relate to each other, beyond just showing how math is related to science. Instead, he would want his students to understand such things as how the study of life has inspired poetry. He showed how he had already started doing this when he was teaching, by having his students write skits acting out the history of discoveries about the atom. He also had his grade 12 class play "Red Rover" as an illustration of Rutherford's gold foil experiment.
The rest of his cover letter ended up being a lot more conventional, highlighting his specific experience and qualifications that they would find useful. But I ended up leaving that opening paragraph largely untouched (beyond beginning it with the standard "I am applying for..." statements). If they're really looking for someone who is enthusiastic and creative with his teaching, I don't know a better way to demonstrate it than that letter.
The problem is that now I want to sit in on his classes. His ideas sound really fun. (Let's just hope he doesn't blow up his hand again. And then post pictures of the damage on his blog. But maybe we can get him updating his blog again.) (Also: have you noticed that we both really, really want him to get this job? So much so that we haven't even asked them how well it pays?)