Why Military Veterans Make Good Teachers Literature Review

Length: 18 pages Sources: 40 Type: Literature Review Paper: #68349262 Related Topics: Role Model, Social Learning Theory, Common Core, Active Learning Published January 25, 2023
Excerpt from Literature Review :

Voices from the trenches: The transfer of teaching and leadership skills from the military environment as veterans enter the teaching profession that affect grit and resilience in underrepresented male students.

The need for interdisciplinary team work is increasing as a result of a number of factors, including the association of professional development with collegiality (Sandholtz, 2000). By transferring teaching and leadership skills from the military environment to the educational environment, a true interdisciplinary approach to education can be achieved (Ballard, 2005; White, 1997). Moreover, veterans of military service are able to apply leadership and organizational skills to the educational environment that can elevate the environment to a new level of rigorousness and accountability, indicating that veterans can improve the educational environment by supporting colleagues and interdisciplinary teams by incorporating previously learned skills from the prior career in the military (Bolles & Patrizio, 2016).

Resilience and Grit

Resilience. Resilience is defined as the quality or characteristic that allows people to continue to pursue goals in a rigourous or rough situation. In academics, many students come from various backgrounds and their ability to use personal resources to overcome and learn the curriculum is a determining factor in their success (Bondy, Ross, Gallingane & Hambacher, 2007).

Grit. Grit is defined as the determination if not ability to overcome obstacles despite the adverse circumstances that one faces in ones current environment. Tough (2013) describes grit as a characteristic of ones hidden character that emerges when times are tough and motivates one to buckle down and apply oneself to a difficult task in spite of the pressure all around one. Grit allows one to have long-term success even if the short-term struggles seem hard. Knowledge are skills are not always the issues for studentssometimes a lack of grit is the real issue: When kindergarten teachers are surveyed about their students, they say that the biggest problem they face is not children who dont know their letters and numbers; it is kids who dont know how to manage their tempers or calm themselves down after a provocation (Tough, 2013, p. 17). As Perkins-Gough (2013) notes, grit predicts success over and beyond talent. When you consider individuals of equal talent, the grittier ones do better (p. 16).

How we measure resilience and grit. Resilience and grit are two characteristics and qualities of self-efficacy (Cassidy, 2015). Self-efficacy is the goal at the top of Maslows (1943) hierarchy of needs model that serves as the nexus of motivation theory. Resilience and grit can thus be measured by determining the individuals needs within the motivation theoretical framework: individuals who demonstrate a need for basic or essential things like food, shelter, warmth, and affection will have less grit and resilience than individuals who demonstrate self-efficacy. Perkins-Gough (2013) shows that grit can be measured using questionnaires that are designed to sample a particular individuals psychological profile: the profile will reveal the level of grit that the individual possesses. Perkins-Gough (2013) used such a questionnaire to measure the grit of West Point cadets and to assess it as a predictor of success. The researcher found that grit was a better predictor of success than any other variable.

Robertson-Kraft and Duckworth (2014) conducted research to examine the extent to which teachers long term commitment to education was based on grit. To measure grit, they used a psychological framework to explore how biographical data on grit, a disposition toward perseverance and passion for long-term goals, explains variance in novice teachers effectiveness and retention (p. 1).

Difference between grit and resilience. The difference between grit and resilience is that grit essentially refers to mental toughness and an ability to maintain focus and consistency with respect to ones goals and objectives (Robertson-Kraft & Duckworth, 2014)which is why there is overlap with resilience, which also contains in its definition a quality of endurance. However, resilience does not necessarily mean grit: resilience means that one can weather a variety of storms and stressors without crumbling or changing ones disposition; there is an element of equanimity and composure that is related to the concept of resilience that is not necessarily part of the definition of grit. Grit means that even as one is being resilient, one is also buckling down and engaging with ones environment in a pro-active manner in order to continue towards the objective that one identified as the aim before the pursuit became difficult. Resilience is less assertive in quality in the sense that the main characteristic of resilience is the sense of persevering to the end; grit is active in quality and refers to the concept that a person is going to not only persevere but actually take the necessary steps to achieving the goal and accomplishing the task at hand. As Robertson-Kraft and Duckworth (2014) show in their measurement of teacher success, grittier teachers outperformed their less gritty colleagues and were less likely to leave their classrooms mid-year. Notably, no other variables in our analysis predicted either effectiveness or retention. These findings contribute to a better understanding of what leads some novice teachers to outperform others and remain committed to the profession (p. 1). Grit can predict teachers effectiveness as it pertains the actual goal of teachingreaching students and instructing them, whereas resilience simply refers to ones ability to persevere in the face of all adversity.

Why Students Drop Out

Students drop out for a variety of factors but grit, as Perkins-Gough (2013) demonstrated in her study of student achievement and success is the number one variable with the most predictive power of student success. Toughs (2013) assessment of student achievement also supports this conclusion: grit is the biggest factor that determines a students success because it is the quality that represents mental toughness and the ability of the student to engage with and overcome obstacles. Grit will determine the students ability to be an active learner.

Cabus and De White (2016) state that students drop out for reasons of motivation and opportunity costs as well. However, Koedinger, Kim, Jia, McLaughlin and Bier (2015) state that students who drop out do so because their educational experience is too passive: learning successfully depends upon doingi.e., engaging in active learning, which is where grit comes into play.

Resilience facilitators. Social supports help to facilitate resilience among people, but so too do notions of self-worth, self-esteem, and self-efficacy (Theron, Liebenberg & Ungar, 2015). Tempski et al. (2015) finds that as a set of personal characteristics, resilience encompasses confidence (self-efficacy), coordination (planning), control, composure (low anxiety) and comitment (persistence), that can facilitate persons moving on in a positive way from negative, traumatic or stressful experiences. Self-efficacy, coordination, control, composure and commitment all are qualities that facilitate resilience. When these facilitators are not in place, students do not persevere. Tempski et al. (2015) add that resilience has been considered as a process, where an individual, to be considered resilient, must have those personal characteristics tested in an objective or subjective adversitywhich means that if students are not being tested in terms of resilience, their ability to persevere when times do become difficult will be weak, and at the first sign of trouble, they will drop out. This problem is not specifically personal either, as it can also be systemic: as a system, resilience is defined as the result of the interaction among the individual, his/her social support environment and the adversity, including his/her subject values, cultural, social and ethical influences (Tempski et al., 2015). Students must be supported by their school in terms of developing resiliencei.e., they must have a model of what it looks like so they can emulate it. That is where teachers come into play.

How Do Teachers Impact Grit And Resilience?

Teachers impact grit and resilience by serving as a model for students, by directing them through directed learning, by using discipline in the classroom, and by educating their character (Kohlberg, 1963; Lickona, 1993; Jensen, 2005; Grusec, 2006; Knight, 2008; Kristjansson, 2014). As Grit and resilience are part of character formation Tough, 2013) it is important that teachers have both grit and resilience within themselves and that these qualities are impressed upon their own characters so that they can impact students who lack these qualities and help them to obtain them.

Academic growth. Academic growth and success is predicated on the ability of the individual to be gritty and resilient (Perkins-Gough, 2013; Robertson-Kraft & Duckworth, 2014). Grit and resilience help to establish the individuals character and supply it with the characteristics needed to engage with the struggles that accompany academic growth.

Facilitators of academic growth. Self-control is the biggest facilitator of academic growth (Wu, Kung, Chen & Kim, 2017). Self-control allows one to moderate ones emotions, ones mental focus, and to achieve a balance of proportions in demeanor, attitude, dedication, and drive. Mindset is also a facilitator of academic growth: a mind that is engaged and actively responsive to cues and to development will be one that supports academic pursuits and facilitates the achievement of academic goals and objectives (Claro, Paunesku & Dweck, 2016).

Academic growth from effective teachers. Effective teachers facilitate academic growth by providing students with a number of different pathways to learning, including the ability to tap into their potential. Todays teachers follow mainly the standards and pathways provided by the common core. However, the positives of the common core curriculum are not enough to make up for the limitations of the curriculum. The positives are that 1) it is common, so everyone is on the same page; but of course this could easily be listed as a limitation, toofor while everyone may be on the same curriculum page, everyone still remains different, with diverse abilities and talents, and so some will be stifled by the curriculum and others helped; the idea that it can serve as a catch-all is ridiculous. Positive no. 2) is that it promotes specific goals that can be measured by testingbut, this is also a limitation as too much time is spent preparing for tests and the soul of education is neglected in the processthe idea that teachers should educate students on how to want to learn, should inspire in them a desire to learn on their own and give them the capacity to learn more deeply as well. Positive no. 3) is that it standardizes the classroom and gives clear parameters to teachershowever, this can also be viewed as a limitation because for teachers who have the ability to really shine and provide deep-down education such parameters can be extremely negative (Bleiberg & West, 2014). The major limitation of the common curriculum however is that it simply is not challenging when compared to curriculums of 100 years or 200 years ago. It is no wonder that students in this country have a difficult time succeedingthey are not challenged the way they should be; true, some will fall, unable to meet the challengebut that just shows that education is not for everyone.

As Zhao (2015) shows, Asian schools are superior and succeed because they challenge more. And as Haynes (2009) notes, character does not come from curriculum but from peopleand in the US, people are afraid to have an educational system in which persons can fail. In order to improve education for all students what is really needed now and in the near future are brave teachers who are not afraid to leave some students behind. Education should not be reduced so as to allow even the slowest or most behind students to be part of the fold; it should be made harder, so that those who are best suited to succeeding will develop the skills they will need to make it in the academic world. Slower students, if they seek some education, should have their own classes (Haynes, 2009).

Long-term effects of resilience and grit. The long terms effects of resilience and grit are self-determination, self-efficacy, academic success, confidence, social capital, and the accomplishment of long-term goals and objectives (Robertson-Kraft & Duckworth, 2014; Von Culin, Tsukayama & Duckworth, 2014; Blalock, Young & Kleiman, 2015).


Ample research has been conducted on how grit and resilience can shape a students academic life as well as how grit can mediate adverse circumstances in an individuals life (Perkins-Gough, 2013; Tough, 2013;…specific roles effectively; however, both share a lot of common skills and will be viewed by people as having a lot in common. Teachers should be like leaders for students, and leaders should be like teachers for followers. If a teacher is not really like a leader, it might be hard for the teacher to make a big impact on many students, and if a leader lacks the ability to instruct, he or she may have less impact on followers than a leader who can teach (Mitchell et al., 2015). Teachers who are able to demonstrate good leadership because of the background training they have received, for example in the military, will be able to impress high levels of resilience upon their students.

What is an effective teacher. Teachers have to have a lot of specific training in how to be an educator that leaders in other industries may not necessarily need. This is because teaching is a highly specialized process, almost like brain surgery: you need to know exactly what you are doing and why you are doing it. Leaders on the other hand do not need to know how to do every single job; they just need to have a vision, know how to communicate, be good at inspiring others, be supportive and be a good motivator. However, there is a lot of overlap among the two, as their places of reponsibility can intersect in certain ways, as Benne (2003) points out: no two places of responsibility are wholly isolated from one another. Listening and communicating are great skills for both leaders and teachers. A teacher who does not listen or communicate effectively will essentially be useless in the classroom and a leader who does neither will never develop a following or have a positive impact on a team. As Benne (2003) notes teachers are like leaders in that they are communicating a vision to their students.

Why teacher retention has its benefits. Teacher retention can be supported by TTT as Eskries-Winkler et al. (2014) have shown. The benefits of teacher retention are that it provides consistency for students and for faculty and administration. The more consistency that exists in a school the more stable it is felt to be and the more that students and teachers are likely to form lasting bonds both inside and outside the classroom. This can have its benefits because bonds serve as the foundation for character formation: the teacher becomes or serves as a role model for the studentbut if teachers are constantly burning out and leaving the school, students can become disillusioned and disconnected. The more stable that teachers are in their careers, the more likely students will have a chance to succeed academically.

Why MVs stay. Military veterans tend to stay in their careers as teachers because they make the transition smoothly and effectively (Ballard, 2005; Bolles & Patrizio, 2016). They come from a culture that supports them and they in turn impress the values of that culture in their careers as teachers. Culture is the expression of values and morality and it is informed by their backgroundtheir race, their ethnicity, their language, the customs that they participate in their families and so on. These are all good points about what goes in to informing ones culture. Culture is always changing and is always taking on new forms and expressions. It is never static and for that reason military veterans are taught through the TTT program to embrace the values and principles of the schools where they will be teaching so that their military values do not clash with the schools values. Their military training will help them to practice commitment to the mission of the school, and their TTT training can help them to transition effectively so that they can become long-term teachers for schools and ensure greater stability.

Teacher retention also saves money and time in training. As Papay and Kraft (2016) show, teacher turnover results in high costs for schools because they must routinely hire new teachers, train them, and invest in them if they are losing teachers every year. Moreover, high turnover rates affect student morale and faculty morale, and can have a negative snowball effect in terms of resulting in degenerating school performance. As students perform poorly because of higher turnover rates of teachers, test schools reflect low school quality, and schools can thus miss out on state funds that are important for school growth and development and that are tied to incentive packagesi.e., students performing well on tests (Papay & Kraft, 2016). Thus, if teachers are not being retained, schools are going to suffer in a variety of waysand that is why it important that teacher retention be a goal of schools. The more that teachers are retained for the long-term, the more likely it is that students will stay in school and graduate.


Resilience and grit are major factors that determine an individuals success no matter what sector or area of life it is. For teachers as well as students, for military personnel as well as spouses in a marriage: grit and resilience have been shown by researchers to be the major drivers of motivation: they are what determine self-efficacy and self-determination.

Military veterans are well-trained in resilience and grit as part of their background in the military. There they receive an education in how to control the self, develop the character, and commit oneself to the goal. In other words, they develop the qualities of grit and resilience.

In todays schools, 3 out of every 4 teachers are female, which means that male students are underrepresented in the classroom. Because students rely upon teachers to be role models for them and to be examples of the types of qualities they need to succeed, male students are not receiving the example of grit and resilience from male teachers that they need in order to be academically successful.

The Troops to Teachers Program was designed to get more male teachers in the classroom to help make up for the demographic match gap between male students and their teachers. It…

Sources Used in Documents:


Ballard, M. A. (2005). Second career military veterans teaching in the public school

classroom: Why they are there, why they stay and why they leave (Doctoral dissertation, George Mason University).

Benne, R. (2003). Ordinary saints: An introduction to the Christian life (2nd ed.).



Systems? Retrieved from http://zhaolearning.com/2015/06/19/lessons-that-matter-what-should-we-learn-from-asia%E2%80%99s-school-systems/

Cite this Document:

"Why Military Veterans Make Good Teachers" (2018, April 17) Retrieved January 29, 2023, from

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"Why Military Veterans Make Good Teachers", 17 April 2018, Accessed.29 January. 2023,

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