Second career military veterans teaching in the public school classroom: Why they are there, why they stay and why they leave
Whether a general shortage of teachers exists is a subject of debate in both the literature and the public press. However, it is generally accepted that there are shortages in specific content areas such as mathematics, science, and special education, and in the number of minority teachers. Survey research conducted on graduates of college-based Troops-to-Teachers programs has shown that second-career, military veterans can help satisfy these specific staffing needs. The limited available literature that addresses this issue indicates that these military veterans also perform well in the classroom.
This research project used survey and qualitative interview methods in order to develop deeper insight into the career decision making processes with respect to teaching as a second career and the factors impacting those decisions for the 16 military veteran teachers who participated in the study. A number of themes emerged from the data. These included the preeminence of their family's financial needs before the participants would consider their other, higher order needs, the role pre-teaching experiences played in preparing the participants for a smoother transition into the classroom, and their expectations for personal and professional growth opportunities. The most pervasive finding was the overarching importance the participants placed on quality of leadership, both their own and that of their administrators.
The findings indicated that, for the participants, the key factors that brought them into public education as a second career were a special awareness of teaching as an option, opportunities to pay for and earn their teaching credentials, and factors that satisfied higher order needs on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. The implications of these findings are that programs and policies designed to recruit and retain military veteran career-changers need to account for these factors and gratify those higher needs. Recommendations for future research include work to generalize these findings and to improve classroom management courses at schools of education.
0530: Teacher education