How to Apply to the Toronto District School Board (TDSB)

Advice for Beginning Teachers and Student Teachers


Many of you will want to apply to the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) as an occasional teacher so that you can quickly step into the profession.

Everything you need to know about that process is detailed on this website:

So, then, you might be wondering – what is the point of the rest of all these words, if everything needed to know is at that link.  Well, from here on out, you’re getting my perspective and my advice, which you can choose to take or ignore as you wish.  This is just one perspective, and the system is constantly changing.  That said, I would never try to steer you astray.

You will also notice that as soon as you click on the application link on that webpage (at the time of writing – November 9th, 2021) it directs you to a link that states: – So, you could just bypass the first link, and head straight for the application.

The key thing to remember is you need to apply on or after January 1st and you need to re-apply every January 1st as your application is deleted annually.

What You’ll Need

The main things you’ll need are your:

  • Cover Letter
  • Resume
  • Practicum Reports
  • Reference Letters

Give me a moment, and we’ll take a look at each of those.

Cover Letter

There are a number of different ways to write a cover letter.  The TDSB used to have a document listing “action words” that it recommended you begin each paragraph with.  I would suggest that you stick to this format, even though that document is now lost to time.

Embrace the “ing”

Writing with this voice creates a stronger impression than the following sentence.  I write with this voice to create a strong impression, but it’s lacking compared to when I start with an “ing” word.

Connect to the documents

There are also a number of documents you should familiarize yourself with, so that each paragraph you write will directly link your specific skills to a mandate or initiative in the board.

There is the Multi-Year Strategic Action Plan:

And there is the OCT Standards of Practice:

Both of these documents are directly communicated to teachers applying to be department heads as things they should know and reference.  For that reason, they are relevant for your practice as well.

Constantly demonstrate your skills

Remember that you are using this cover letter to show why you are the best choice out of a pool of hundreds.  You will want to phrase your points as things you will do to enhance the school board, and the local schools.

If you were thinking about stating, “I really like canoeing because it keeps me active,” consider phrasing that as “Embracing my love of canoeing, I use my connection to physical activities to form caring relationships with students in order to bridge gaps, and chart a direction forward for strong self-selection of texts that engage their special interest areas.”

Note how in the second example, the end message is still about the love of canoeing, but it connects to a number of important concepts and initiatives that enhance the classroom.

Your Resume

This is a difficult task to approach because there are so many different ways to create a resume, and so many different templates.  My one piece of advice is to use a little splash of colour, and use your headings wisely and with purpose.  One font, one font size, for the entire two pages (no more) is not a way to stand out.

Bullet point your experience

On your resume you will have work experience and you will likely explain why that work experience is relevant to teaching.  But, just like with your cover letter, you want to make the most of this opportunity.


New Leaf Books: Manager 2018-2021

I was the manager of chapters where I helped track budget, assign duty schedules, and interact with customers to provide an environment that maintained professional boundaries, while maintaining positive relationships.  During my time as manager I was able to learn the best ways to introduce people to new texts that best suited their needs.

Better example:

New Leaf Books: Manager 2018-2021

  • Tracked and maintained a working budget to facilitate department needs
  • Maintained and constructed duty assignments using digital database technology
  • Provided a safe and caring space that fostered positive and professional relationships
  • Developed techniques to best support individualized needs in the self-selection of meaningful and relevant texts

Each bullet point begins with “ed”, indicating a specific action you’ve taken, and each point directly relates to something that is also relevant in the classroom setting.

Sectioning your Teaching Experience

You will all have had teaching experiences, be it professionally, or as a student teacher.  When principals are instructed to construct their resumes, they are told to break down their experience using the following headings:

  • Setting Directions
  • Building Relationships and Developing People
  • Developing the Organization to Support Desired Practices
  • Improving the Instructional Program
  • Securing Accountability

While those might not be the best headings for you to use, rather than having a multi-pointed list of teaching experience bullet points, you should consider headings that you can use to break up your experience and best highlight your skills.  For example:

Student Teacher: Commerce Technical & Jane Wilson CI 2019-2021

Digital Fluency

  • Example one
  • Example two

Curriculum Development

  • Example one
  • Example two

Classroom Management

  • Example one
  • Example two

I wouldn’t use more than five headings, or fewer than three.  Hopefully, you can see how this will help organize your resume.

Practicum Reports 

You will need to submit these.  Your December report is incredibly important as it will be your most recent report.  That one is absolutely required for your application.

These are mostly out of your hands, although I’d encourage you to discuss your reports with your mentor teacher before they are signed and submitted.

The one key thing to remember here is that you will want to scan a colour copy of the signed reports so you can digitally submit them in the future.

Reference Letters

The final report is usually a two page piece with different heading, and paragraph responses.  What I like to do is make a copy of the final report, remove the different section headings, and add a few transitional words to turn the multi-paragraphed report into a multi-paragraphed reference letter.

These can be printed on school letterhead, and then signed on the bottom.

You may want to ask your mentor teacher to provide you with a similar copy.

Good luck!

That’s it.  That’s my knowledge about applying.  Now, as for interviewing… that’s a whole different story.  Feel free to stay in touch at

Continue the Series:

Written by…

Michael Barltrop has been teaching since 2006, integrating comics, video games, and TTRPGs into his classroom. He has been the head of English, Literacy, Special Education, and Assessment & Evaluation and Universal Design. Feel free to reach out through Twitter @MrBarltrop!

Feel free to support the website hosting by buying him a coffee or sharing this post on facebook, twitter, or whatever social media is trending these days.

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