Teaching was my passion long before I met my spouse. I rejoiced when I was told way back in 2009 that is was a great choice, since it traveled so well for military spouses.
In fact, teachers or other education-related fields routinely rank in the top jobs that work best for military spouses.
For me, reality hit after our first PCS. Licensing, recertification, continuing education and upkeep of credentials in 3 different states (so far) is expensive and time-consuming. While many military spouses DO make this work, there are times when it may not work for you in the way that you imagined.
Luckily, I have some excellent fallback options for these moments that keep you in the field and help you stay at the top of your game.
1. Tutoring. Kids need tutors in every single town, suburb and city in the United States (or abroad). If you are in a military community, you almost have a leg up. That’s what I did in 2010 with MilKids: start a military child focused tutoring service. I marketed and spread the word on our military base that I was a credentialed teacher with an advanced degree in special education who understood the military life. Before I knew it, my available spots had completely filled up, with people on a waiting list!
You don’t have to focus on military kids though. Overseas, you could offer tutoring in English. Stateside, focus on YOUR area of expertise, whatever it is. Parents are looking for tutors to help them over rough spots in education whether their child is in kindergarten or high school.
Start a website on a free service, list your experience and rates, then market like crazy.
Share your availability on social media, through printed flyers and word of mouth. I had business cards printed and passed these out at family days, at the library, or whenever I ran into a parent with a school aged child.
2. Homeschool Helper. A big chunk of my tutoring business was actually working with homeschooling families. While almost every family had a curriculum in place, one or more of their children often had learning differences or they needed another person to teach a tough subject. Which is where I came in.
The family liked that they had an expert in education without their child having to be in traditional school.
The kids felt like they were extra special since it was more relaxed than school and I brought some of my own materials from my previous classrooms. I liked that I was planning lessons using an existing program that were sequential, instead of on-the-spot like tutoring can be sometimes.
Now, I have leveraged that experience into writing for a prominent homeschool blog. I provide tips and advice from a classroom teacher perspective with a homeschool twist.
3. Ed Blogging/Writing. From a tutoring business website, I’ve turned MilKids into an education blog focusing on the parents and teachers of military families. I offer practical advice, breakdowns of legal policies and laws or teaching tips. Lots of what I share works for everyone, but some of it is military family specific.
Your blog should be about what you are passionate and knowledgeable about, whether it’s teaching or cooking or running or whatever.
Writing and connecting through writing to other people, has landed me more freelancing opportunities and helped me to become an influencer in the education world. I’ve been a guest blogger on different education and military family-focused websites.
4. Virtual Business. This is super easy to set up, but you do have to work at it (as I’m figuring out right now). The most popular site in the classroom teaching for cool and affordable materials is Teachers Pay Teachers. It’s free to set up a seller account and free-ish to sell your items. TpT does take a pretty hefty cut in a variety of fees, so you will need to move items in large quantities to make it worth your time.
However, this is a great opportunity to cross-market yourself if you went either the blog or tutoring route (or both!). And it can help you to make at least something off of all of the materials you created while you were teaching to fill the gaps in the school-provided items. I had to simply polish up my own items, or use ideas for things I wish I had created for my classroom to build new things. It’s a learning curve, for sure, but it is doable.
5. Get in the Classroom But Not as a Teacher. During several points in my career, being a full-time teacher with all of those responsibilities just wasn’t going to work for my afterschool life. So I did the next best thing: paraprofessional.
For a classroom teacher, having a competent and knowledgeable assistant could be the difference between an awesome year and an OK year. If you can’t teach full time, look for openings as a paraprofessional or teacher’s aide/assistant. There are even private opportunities out there! I worked as a privately contracted aide in a Montessori school at one point.
I loved being a para (not that I don’t love being a teacher, I do). I was able to focus just on the kids and not worry about the paperwork as much. Being in a school as an assistant is also a great way to show leadership what you can do. When you are able to or when an opening comes up, you will be front and center to fill that spot.
6. Substitute. I think that this works best if you have the flexibility of no kids or school aged kids. Substitute teaching can be sporadic and inconsistent. As a sub, I’ve had weeks long assignments, a few days here and there assignments, or been called in for just a few hours.
It can work for parents of younger kids too. But you will have to arrange your schedule to make it work. I would suggest setting up child care on certain days, and only taking assignments on those days. Or only accepting long-term substitute positions, since those can last for quite a while.