I recently read that the Florida Department of Education (DoE) is providing opportunities for members of the United States Armed Forces and veterans to join the ranks of teachers and administrators working to support Florida’s students.
Difficult Times Call for Innovative Solutions
As a former Marine captain and air command and control officer, I know how valuable military personnel are and the strengths they would bring into any situation. Given the continued shortage of teachers throughout the country, it is wise to call upon individuals who have already made a commitment to serve. Although nothing can replace the value and importance of traditionally trained educators, difficult times call for innovative solutions.
To maximize this opportunity, school leaders in the Sunshine State must develop a deeper understanding of how to best utilize the unique training and skill sets veteran hires possess. I know firsthand the precision, work ethic, and dedication these individuals will exhibit with any task placed before them. One way to ensure that these attributes are emphasized properly is by providing a structured training program for onboarding veterans. This is imperative to create a clear path to successful student outcomes and to increase the likelihood of employment longevity for these transitioning service members.
A Fresh Perspective
This news is likely to conjure strong initial reactions in civilians. Stereotypical images of a tough-as-nails sergeant with a buzz cut, standing at the front of a classroom yelling at scared little children, is likely running rampant in people’s minds. But I would like to offer a different perspective. A more realistic one. Imagine instead a person with a strong sense of duty and discipline. Someone who is able to keep composure even under difficult or stressful circumstances. This person more than likely has a variety of cross-functional skills, knows how to adapt to constantly evolving circumstances, and can problem solve and think creatively on the fly. The disciplined nature will come in handy when it comes to setting clear expectations, rules, and schedules for the classroom. All this to say, veterans have potential if they choose to step into this new role, and it is up to us to find the silver lining in this staffing crisis.
“Employers and companies can benefit from hiring [v]eterans. Military personnel are often cross-trained in multiple skills and have experience in varied tasks and responsibilities. Many [v]eterans have learned what it means to put in a hard day’s work. They have also come to appreciate the challenges and satisfaction of a job well done. Much of this experience can translate to their participation in the workforce, making the [v]eteran an asset on the job.” (1)
While not all veterans have experience working with students, most have lived and worked with people from different backgrounds than their own, creating compassion and awareness. School leaders should ask returning educators to swap strategies for developing relationships with students and families to ensure veterans hear new ideas from folks who taught last year.
Setting Up for Success
Teaching can be intimidating when you’re the only adult in the room, but veterans are trained to be independent problem-solvers and think on their feet. Bringing military personnel into classrooms successfully will require immense support from school leaders, both in the schools and in the Florida DoE. These leaders will need to provide veterans with clear expectations for how to best support students. Florida DoE would do well to invest in professional development training for these incoming military veteran teachers and administrators to properly prepare them for the invaluable work of educating our children. Military veterans are incredibly capable people, and teaching our nation’s youth deserves serious strategic planning and support systems.
CT3’s No-Nonsense Nurturer® Workshop, Real Time Teacher Coaching®, and Real Time Leadership Coaching are the ideal programs to put in place in order to assist veterans as they take on new challenges and learn new skills. From diving into pedagogical strategies to real time coaching, CT3 has what all educators need: ongoing structured support.
Wishing teachers everywhere all the best in the coming school year,
Former Marine Captain and Air Command and Control Officer