Being an educator today is a struggle for many of us, day in and day out. When I worked in a middle school, I felt like I had to wear many hats and not just be the teacher. I sometimes filled the role of a parent, a friend, a nurse, or just a shoulder to cry on. Then, of course, middle school brings its own challenges of bullying and puberty. I decided last year to make the switch to adult education. I found out that adult education is its own unique niche with its own set of issues and struggles.
To start, I don’t have a real curriculum geared to adult education, and the materials I do have seem really childish. I have to find and create materials that are appropriate not only for my students’ education level, but also their age, lifestyle, and background.
I can’t print phonics worksheets that have little hearts and teddy bears all over the page. These materials would make my students feel uneducated or stupid, and what I want is to empower them to change their lives and educate themselves.
To add to the challenges many of us adult educators face, I also work in a jail.
Working in a jail, prison, or corrections facility brings its own unique issues to this already challenging job. Our schedule is based around when inmates are allowed movement. From 11:30 to 1:00, inmates have to go back to their living units for count and lunch. Therefore, we cannot have classes during this time.
Then there are the day-to-day challenges of students not coming to school because they are in court, or they did something and ended up in segregation, or they just didn’t want to come. Students are given “good time” if they come to school, and they can earn five days off their sentence for being in school for the month. However, some max out their good time because they are in other mandatory programs, and many of our non-sentenced population don’t care, because they haven’t been sentenced and cannot earn good time yet, and are really hoping they can make bail and go home. They do face disciplinary consequences if they miss too many days; however, some students still do not care.
Read our first post.
SABES, the System for Adult Basic Education Support in Massachusetts, promotes high quality adult education services through training, support, and resources that improve the skills and knowledge of practitioners and strengthen programs.
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