Do Veterans Make Good Teachers?

Are veteran teachers effective in the classroom? Another way to pose this question might be, do military veterans make good educators? If you have recently left or are about to finish time in the military, these are more than just rhetorical questions. With many vets looking for work and many schools in need of effective educators, it would seem that this combination could be an excellent one on both sides of the equation.

Leadership Qualities

Veterans can bring a wealth of leadership qualities to the classroom. An understanding of discipline and its importance, an appreciation of the importance of education, adaptability, and an ability to work in even highly stressful circumstances are some of the qualities that vets can bring to a school environment. It is perhaps not surprising that veteran candidates are increasing in the teaching job market, as people see the value of what they can bring from their cross-cultural experiences and their ability to work in difficult situations. Vets are also often known for their ability to persevere, a quality that is sorely needed in a profession that has a high turnover rate, especially within the first five years of a typical teaching career. 

Another interesting thing that has the potential to powerfully connect vets with the teaching field is that many people who enter the military, especially if they enter it when young, do so from neighborhoods with relatively poor schools. They understand firsthand how challenging such school environments can be for students and educators, and therefore may be more invested in helping to make a difference in such school systems.  

A Good Match on Both Sides

One of the most difficult things in leaving a military career, whether it has been a long or short one, is returning to civilian life and finding a new job. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of 2013 the unemployment numbers are higher than average for vets who have recently returned from the Middle East. To help counter this, there are many organizations working to recruit vets into various professional fields. One such organization is Teach for America, which has started an initiative to bring vets into the classroom, understanding that their skills could be a uniquely good fit for that environment. Another organization, run by the United States Department of Defense, is called Troops to Teachers (TTT). This group helps vets train for work in public schools. As federal programs go, TTT is a small but important program that recognizes one of the best ways the U.S. can honor its veterans is to invest in their futures. In the first 13 years of the program, about 9,500 vets with at least ten years of experience were trained and placed in teaching or administrative jobs in U.S. public schools. 

Related Resource: Is Education a Good Degree for Former Military?

A change in career in mid-life or even earlier is challenging for anyone, but moving from the military to the classroom seems to be one pathway that works for many. If you are a veteran seeking to put your unique skills and experience to excellent use, you might want to consider joining the ranks of dedicated classroom teachers who are making a big difference in the lives of American students.