Teaching in a Jail

Discussion in 'Multiage' started by mr_post22, Feb 10, 2014.

  1. mr_post22

    mr_post22 Companion

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    Feb 10, 2014

    A fellow teacher of mine will be leaving at the end of the school year and start teaching at a jail. I teach in Hillsborough County, Florida and according to his friend, he gets to create his own curriculum, he gets paid more, and the kids actually want to learn. This sounds really cool to me and a way to push myself as an educator but I don't know what I would do. Does anyone have experience in this particular area or something similar to this? I would probably teach an high school math and have different age levels since they are trying to get their GED. I probably wouldn't start for another 2 years if I decide to do it but I want to keep it open as an option. :thanks:
     
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  3. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Feb 10, 2014

    Teaching in jail and teaching kids that are locked up are 2 different things. If you teach at a county jail or state prison, pretty much everyone will be over 18, and going to classes will be optional. They can stay in their cell, or get their GED.
    Teaching a juvenile detention center is where you'll have kids 13-19 age and school is mandatory.

    But ether way, I would not call that 'pushing yourself' as an educator. You will most likely (especially in jail / prison) have a correctional officer in the classroom, and at the sound of a funny noise, or someone looking at you in a funny way, the student is removed from the classroom. Everyone will be on their best behavior and will be very motivated to learn (most are motivated by fear to behave, but some really do want to learn, because they're bored or actually want to get their high school diploma).
    But it's probably the easiest thing. You would need to differentiate though, because you would have all grade levels / abilities and skill levels in the same classroom, ranging from not knowing how to do long division to those who are ready for calculus.

    If you want to push yourself as an educator, go work at a court school, where you don't have officers to run the classroom for you, it's up to you to reach those kids and make them do everything for you, because they like you, or they know that you care and somehow you're able to communicate to them that following rules are important.
     
  4. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Feb 10, 2014

    By the way we are still looking for a math teacher (court school) who quit in October, he went back to work at a female state prison, because he said it was easier :)
     
  5. mr_post22

    mr_post22 Companion

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    Feb 11, 2014

    I heard there was an armed guard but I don't know where I would teach. I was more worried about wither I would have to stick to a curriculum or make my own because I was told I could make my own but I don't really know what that means entirely. That is what I meant when I said that I would have to push my self.
     
  6. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Feb 11, 2014

    The curriculum really depends on the school, but for the most part they're not as strict as regular schools.
    - For one there is no pacing guide, because students come and go, and then they'll get locked up again, so you can take as little or as long time as you want, completely get off of the traditional road, etc.
    - But you also can't just have a year's worth of curriculum, because you're going to have the same kids for years: in jail, they'll be there for a couple of years, in detention centers they come and go, rarely does a kid get locked up (for longer term like 6 months) and not return.
    - in some juvenile halls you have very short term students, like 1-3 weeks. I even subbed in classrooms that had 21 day offenders. I couldn't teach like that, I thin it's difficult, there isn't enough time to establish a foundation and actually learn something. On top of it the kds come and go, some time the class looked 75 % different on a Friday from Monday.
    - you might still have to focus on standards (we always had to) but you can probably make up your currilum if you want to.
    - you could use any standards from any grades, because you'll have several grade levels in a class. That kind of freedom was overwhelming for me at first, but in 6-8 months I learned how to do it wihtout stress, but still have a rigorous curriculum.
     
  7. tiki7719

    tiki7719 Companion

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    Apr 11, 2014

    I am currently working on my license and masters in spec. ed. I am actually quite interested in teaching in a juvenile detention facility upon graduation. I have a background in law (paralegal for 11 years) and I still thoroughly enjoy the field of law. I feel this may (can't say for certain until I somehow get there!) make a difference and can possibly fit in considering I understand a bit more than others the population in facilities.
     
  8. allaragallagher

    allaragallagher Comrade

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    Apr 17, 2014

    I'm also interested in working in corrections as an educator. My dad was a corrections officer so he always told me I wouldn't have to worry about "anything going down" in the classroom because an officer is always present. He also told me my students would want to learn and push themselves to improve. I don't doubt I could do the job. I always worry I will be laughed out of an interview room because I'm female, five-foot tall, and weigh 100 lbs. I'm OFTEN mistaken for a high school student.
     
  9. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    If you're interested in working at a juvenile detention center, it's not that hard to get into it.
    By the way I'm female, blonde with a European accent, so you'd think they'd look at me like 'what is Barbie doing over here?", but that never happened. I've always proven myself in the classroom, or even with talking to teachers and admin.

    This is what you do if you want to get your foot in the door:
    - find the local County Office of Education's website and look for employment. If you're in California look for it on edjoin. org.
    The county office handles alternative education anywhere, so that's what you need.
    - look for subbing opportunities
    The good thing is that you will find year round subbing in most places because the lock ups are nearly 365 days / year. So even if you have your own classroom right now, you can do something in the summer.

    I think subbing there will be a good start. If you respond to a teaching position, they will probably not even call you for an interview unless you have experience with at-risk youth. It doesn't matter if you taught for 10 years at a nice suburban school, they will not care about your after school drama club or test scores. They care about whether you know what you're getting into, if you know how to motivate kids, how to differentiate in a classroom with grades 8-12 (all in one class), etc.

    Very important to know: not every juvenile detention center will have officers in the classroom. In San Diego I worked at 2 camps (they were not the juvie centers but the longer term lock ups) and the officers were outside. You had to know how to control the kids otherwise you wouldn't last.
    Here, where I am, I subbed at juvie last summer, and the officers are outside watching everything, sometimes they come in, sit down, try to interrupt the lesson, etc. Some places you have TAs, in others you won't.
     
  10. IdahoSpEdTeach

    IdahoSpEdTeach Rookie

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    Jul 22, 2014

    Ha! I'm going in this fall to a juvenile detention facility to teach English. I hear that my students will just work through "packets". I'm not sure what to expect but I'll let you know.
     
  11. Leatherette

    Leatherette Comrade

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    Dec 25, 2014

    I really liked teaching (English, health, math) in a juvenile detention facility. Unfortunately, I could not get them to train me in de-escalation/restraint, so I had to quit after one of my students was badly beaten in my classroom and I wasn't allowed to intervene. We did not have correction officers in the classroom, and they didn't come quickly when there were issues because they resented the fact that the teachers made more than they did (we had Master's, they had GEDs). I'd definitely advise getting some idea of how things work before getting into it.
     
  12. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    I have a friend who works in a prison. Her students range from young men to men in their late sixties. She's mentioned that the guards don't stay in the room with them. She says she feels safer there than at the school where I work.
     
  13. eyeteach

    eyeteach Rookie

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    Dec 25, 2014

    I am not sure about armed guards for the same reasons that there are not armed guards in adult prisons.
     
  14. WarriorPrncss

    WarriorPrncss Companion

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    Dec 30, 2014

    Hello, I currently work at a Juvenile Detention Center.

    Not sure what the difference between court school and a JDF school is because they use the terms interchangably here.

    At our facility we have 5 classrooms and teachers, plus a couple aides, plus a library.

    I can't speak toward curriculum much, but I do know that it's not as strict as a normal school.

    All our juveniles are a 90 day minimum, except those who are brought back if they've violated their Probation. Holds for that are usually 2 weeks at minimum and usually happen fairly fast after release.

    As for pay, I am in Central California and the pay is only a couple/few thousand more than the average teaching salary AND the teachers here work much more than the average 180 days. For example, Christmas break was Dec 23-26. And they are only off maybe 1-2 weeks during the summer.

    Youth here, most of them, are NOT motivated to learn. Most could care less and are simply waiting to be released to rejoin their gang buddies. I overheard a couple of our counselors talking and one admitted he only thought that a handful were going to make any change and were "saveable". Sad, but true.

    Here, there are no officers in the classrooms, teachers are in control unless they need assistance. While there are no classroom officers, there is an officer ALWAYS assigned to be in the school vestible area so that should a fight breakout (which happens often enough) or should a youth be sent out, there will be someone to handle it. Our officers won't enter classrooms unless there's an issue, and they're always quick to repond.

    One teacher, who is a new and friend of mine, complained to me how bad their manners were and how they didn't seem to care. Her biggest issue was that many have nasty habits of sticking their hands down their pants in class because they're bored. Apparently NO amount of etiquette lectures or talk about appropriate behavior seems to help the issue.
     
  15. WarriorPrncss

    WarriorPrncss Companion

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    Dec 30, 2014

    Also... having worked at a Juvenile Detention Center for about 2 years, I wouldn't want to work here as a teacher. It's easy enough to handle, you just can't let them see you're nervous (if you are) otherwise they'll take full advantage.

    Sure, it's easy enough, you don't ever have to deal with parents and most days you can come and go shortly before and after school begins and ends... I just don't see it as being very rewarding. At least not at my facility. If you really want to make a difference in a youth's life... it's probably not going to happen here. It's probably not going to be a challenge.
     
  16. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Your work environment is similar to the probation camps where I worked for almost 2 years.

    Court school is a school where students are required to go because they're court ordered, either because they're on probation, or otherwise ordered, but they're free, not incarcerated. That's where I work. It's almost the same student population as the the ones in juvie, same mentality, just different behavior (usually more problems because there are no officers to keep them in check, it's just us teachers.)

    Teachers at those places make more money because they're usually on a 210 or 224 day contract. So they make the same daily rate, they just work more.

    About the hands in the pants: don't be shy, tell them: 'I need to see your hands on the desk! '
    I used to say these and the boys were shocked that I wasn't shy. You can't be shy. Sometimes I was straight forward and said " get your hands our of your pants" They were usually so embarrassed that they complied and never did it again.
    Especially if you're female and younger, they will try to play mindgames, so you have to be tougher and smarter than them. The hands in the pants are nasty. I could tell you stories about what some of the kids told me what they did in classes to teachers they didn't like without the teacher knowing. Nasty.

    One advantage you have is that the officers are usually really strict with them. They can't even look at the wrong direction without the entire dorm / pod being punished, and they always speak with 'yes ma'am / yes sir', etc and they're super polite. If they act differently in your classroom, it's because they're testing the waters to see how lenient you are.
    If you can, spend some time observing them how they speak with the officers, how they act in their presence, and generally how the officers handle them. You will probably think "well, then they can act like that with me as well". They will respect you more if you're strict.
     
  17. WarriorPrncss

    WarriorPrncss Companion

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    Oh... I don't work in the school portion of the facility.

    I work the Control center, so I have eyes and ears on EVERYthing that happens. I know several of the teachers and I am able to read reports on the happenings.

    Unfortunatly, here, our Officers vary greatly-- some are great who the youth listen to and respect and others are total push overs and can be easily mainpulated. They only know me because I can be the "God voice" over the PA and intercom when I want to. They learn Control schedules pretty quick and they know who's working.

    It's all about respect... if they know you're firm, but fair they'll respect you.

    edit: The hands in the pants... the boys here have NO shame... they do it all the time, in class, in their dorms and if they get sent to isolation-- some will even smirk up at the cameras when they do it because they want the attention... the attention I give is always in the form of an Officer reminding them they can earn addition charges for sexual exposure/misconduct.
     

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