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Coping and Beyond: Practical Suggestions for Correctional Educators

NCJ Number
Journal of Correctional Education Volume: 53 Issue: 3 Dated: September 2002 Pages: 89-95
Thom Gehring Ph.D.; Teri Hollingsworth M.A.
Date Published
September 2002
7 pages
This article reviews literature on the topics of social change, correctional education, and professional burnout and uses them as a basis for answering the common questions asked by correctional teachers, will our efforts be based on prison management or student learning needs; will prison management or prison reform be emphasized; and can we work at a maximum results-producing pace and sustain it over time?
There are special problems encountered by correctional teachers including salaries that are not competitive with the teaching profession overall; students who are disadvantaged, downtrodden, and resistant to learning; surroundings are depressing and dehumanizing; prison staff who do not support the educational program; and funds that are not readily available for correctional education. Some suggestions are offered to aid in overcoming the negative factors encountered by prison educators such as, believing that illusive change in correctional institutions is inevitable, based on the historically proven theory of dialectic change within social context is an important attitude to maintain; preventing burnout by not trying to accomplish unrealistic goals; staying in touch with yourself and asking for help from a colleague to protect from burnout; supporting professional excellence and focusing on improved curricula, innovative classroom strategies to help students learn more effectively; enhancing abilities while minimizing the inhibitors' ability to restrain you; maintaining a global, profession-wide view of work as a correctional educator; and seeking support and approval from educator peers. In conclusion, it is re-emphasized that clarity of thought, an improved awareness, and a nurturing environment will accrue when professional excellence is pursued. References