Sunday, April 15, 2007

Troops to Teachers vs Teach for America

*Disclaimer: All ribbing was made in jest. I totally respect both the TFA program and Ivy League schools.

My highly scientific study inspired by Teaching in the 408:

Hypothesis: Patriotic salty military veterans make better teachers than snot nosed young idealistic Ivy League graduates.

Method: Google (do I need to say anymore?)


Survey of TFA school principals by Kane, Parsons & Associates, 2005

Quality of Training

Three out of four principals (75 percent) rated Teach For America corps members' training as better than that of other beginning teachers.

Nearly all principals (95 percent) reported that corps members' training is at least as good as the training of other beginning teachers.

Impact on Student Achievement

Nearly three out of four principals (74 percent) considered the Teach For America teachers more effective than other beginning teachers with whom they've worked.

The majority of principals (63 percent) regarded Teach For America teachers as more effective than the overall teaching faculty, with respect to their impact on student achievement.

Supervisor Perceptions of the Quality of Troops to Teachers Program: Completers and Program Completer Perceptions of their Preparation to Teach: A National Survey

Principals overwhelmingly (over 90%) reported that Troops to Teachers are more effective in classroom instruction and classroom management/student discipline than are traditionally prepared teachers with similar years of teaching experience.

Principals stated (89.5%) that T3s have a positive impact on student achievement to a greater degree than do traditionally prepared teachers with similar years of teaching experience.

T3s strongly agreed or agreed that their preparation program equipped them to use research-based instructional practices associated with increased student achievement and effective classroom management behaviors.

School administrators overwhelmingly "strongly agreed" or "agreed" that Troops to Teachers exhibited research-based instructional behaviors to a greater degree than traditionally prepared teachers with comparable years of teaching experience.
Conclusion: While both groups of students do better than traditionally educated teachers, my hypothesis was confirmed. Extensive analysis shows that salty old veterans kick young college educated punks idealist asses in the classroom.

Notes: I also suspect that Troops to Teachers could beat Teach for America in a street fight.

Seriously, I think a formal study would make for interesting reading. There are more military veterans than their are top tier college graduates who would be willing to make teaching a long term career.

On a related note, the Air Force has long had their own Community College of the Air Force which enables AF recruits to get an associates degree in their technical specialty.

The problem has been that much of the technical credits wouldn't transfer to four year universities requiring us enlisted to take a significant amount of extra classes to get our bachelors degree. Additionally, since us in the military tend to move pretty often (and go fight annoying little wars), we often have to transfer schools. The end result being that some of our previous traditional classes aren't applicable to the programs at the new location. Online programs are an option, but even they don't accept all of our credits.

This summer, the Air University is going to implement an Associates-to-Baccalaureate program in conjunction with several universities. The program would provide us with several degree programs in which 100% of our CCAF associates degree are transferable. This would mean that after earning our Associates degree, we would only have to complete 60 more credits to get our Bachelors degree. The programs will all be fully accredited, and be able to be completed at any location around the world.

It occurred to me that implementation of this program would significantly increased the number of military veterans retiring with Bachelors degrees which would then enable them to go on to get their teaching credentials.

I have already decided to go into education after I retire (duh...), but feel like I am swimming upstream trying to complete my bachelors degree. I have taken classes at over five different schools in the last 10 years, and though I am very careful with the classes I take, I realize several of them won't be needed for my final degree.

I have actually decided to take this summer off school, partly because I am moving to Alaska, but also to see which degrees and which schools are going to be part of this program.

Update: corrections made to prevent making people cry.


rightwingprof said...

I'm ashamed to say that this is the first I've heard of Troops to Teachers.

Parentalcation said...

Its not the most well publicize program... but we in the military do hear about it.

Michelle Phiffer did that movie about an ex-marine who did the program.

The biggest problem is that the ideal candidates are enlisted, but getting a Bachelors Degree while in is difficult.

redkudu said...

My father went into the military straight out of high school, made his career there, then retired and became a teacher. He and I completed our first year of teaching only 3 years apart. I might not have stayed in teaching if I hadn't had his support and wisdom that first, rocky year. It wasn't only his enthusiasm for setting high standards and helping kids reach them, but also his gentle, but no-nonsense classroom management wisdom which has forever heightened my success in the classroom. He became a department head and one of his school's most beloved and respected teachers, by admin, kids, and parents alike. He still likes to say everything he knew about teaching well came from the military.

Parentalcation said...

Military brat... I knew I liked you for a reason redkudu.

I have been formulating a hypothesis about why military veterans make good teachers. It has something to do with high standards, plenty of experience with military training (a form of direct instruction), age, etc...

redkudu said...

"Military brat... I knew I liked you for a reason redkudu."

Heh. Some people spot it right off, instinctively. :)

"It has something to do with high standards, plenty of experience with military training (a form of direct instruction), age, etc... "

Patience, I think, might go in there somewhere, as well as organization and consistency.

BeckyC said...

Being in the military in the United States makes two things apparent to the individual:

1. there is something bigger than you out there in the world that you're supposed to be willing to die for, and

2. other people can know what that something is.

That represents a whole different epistemology than you will find in any school of education in the United States.

If you think you have knowledge that is shared, if you think you have knowledge to teach, you probably can.

If you think all knowledge has to be personally constructed by the knower and the teacher can only facilitate the process by providing a series of environments in which the learner may or may not take responsibility for his or her own learning... then all bets are off.

BeckyC said...

The word "educate" comes from the latin educere, to lead forth. The word "duke" means leader.

I don't think the connotation is "leading by following."

CrypticLife said...

Dare I say . . .

I would always be happy to see former military personnel in the classroom, for exactly the reasons noted: consistency, training in managing unruly groups, and training in adhering to standards.

Also, after yesterday -- well, military personnel are also trained to handle difficult circumstances. It would give me, as a parent, just a little more reassurance if I knew a significant number of teachers at my son's elementary school were former military.

rightwingprof said...

"Michelle Phiffer did that movie about an ex-marine who did the program."

Ah. I saw that.