Military Spouse Teachers Share Best Practices

Over the past 17 years as an Air Force Spouse, I found several challenges in transferring my teaching certification to my new state. Additional classes, added tests, and financial requirements in the transfer often caused me to ask whether teaching really is a portable career?

Is Teaching Really A Portable Career?

Through a webinar in August, I was honored to be able to connect with more than 40 other military spouse teachers to discuss that question. The overwhelming answer was “Yes! There are enough resources available to military spouses to keep us teaching!”

In both the live event and off-line discussions, we identified some best practices that really do help keep military spouse teachers in the teaching profession.

1. Seek expert help.

USA4 Military Families  holds best practices for states in Facilitating Military Spouse transition through licensure portability and eligibility for unemployment compensation.

2.Pursue the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards is the highest mark of professional accomplishment. National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs) are recognized with reciprocity and often advanced state teaching certifications in a majority of states.

3.Be proactive.

As soon as you have orders, start researching certification regulations. I look for Out-of-State Certification requirements, and I call the Department of Education to clarify what they need from me as a military spouse.

I also look to USA4 Military Families to know if my status as a military spouse gives me leverage in receiving a temporary, expedited, or obtainable endorsement. While I am waiting for my certification to process, I apply to the districts and send resumes directly to the schools I want to teach

4.Get your foot in the door.

Don’t wait to be called, schedule your own interviews. As soon as I am in the area, even as early as house-hunting, I call each school or drop in to visit the principal simply to introduce myself and say that I would be honored to have the opportunity to teach at the school.

I hand the principal my resume and assure them that my application is already on file. More times than not, these self-appointed interviews are the same places where I eventually teach.

5.Network backwards.

Most people say it is who you know that helps you get the job. I suggest that you network backwards. Keep in touch with past administrators and classroom colleagues. Keep in touch particularly with district superintendents.

You will need a letter of recommendation and possibly phone references for EVERY INTERVIEW every few years. In addition to friends, I purposefully keep my Christmas list filled with past colleagues knowing that one day soon I’ll need an updated reference list.

6.Stay certified.

Decide on one ‘home’ teaching certification and hold on to that certification. Each time we move I try to determine if I think we will ever return to that state. If I think that we will, I try to keep my certification active. If I think that it isn’t very likely, I let it lapse.

The one critical certification that I have that has opened more doors than anything else is my National Board Certification. Reciprocity is often simplified, and hiring is streamlined. One state I was refused reciprocity until they received a copy of my National Board Certification. I was then offered a Master Teacher certification for the life of my National Board.

If you missed the discussion and want to engage in the conversation, I invite you to look intoMilitary Connected Teachers and Students here. 

We can also continue the conversation on how we can Keep Military Spouses in the Teaching Profession if you join me at an upcoming on-line National Board Certification in 2014! Options, Timelines and Free support! Information Meeting--Saturday, September 13.  Find more here.

Amanda Trimillos is an Air Force Spouse of 17 years and mother of four.  She is currently employed by National University in the NBC Teacher Leadership Center to support military-connected educators stay in the classroom as well as trains them to work specifically with military-connected students during relocation and deployment challenges.  


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