What follows below is an “ISearch” paper that I wrote as a new student at LCC in 2010. Writing this paper changed my course of study, which ultimately changed my life. I consulted many scholarly articles, and looked at scholarly blogs and open access journals.
Journal of Correctional Education; Dec2001, Vol. 52 Issue 4, p157-159, 3p
Author: Haulard, Edgar R.
Article title: Adult Education: A Must for Our Incarcerated Population
Journal Title: Journal of Correctional Education
Publication date: December, 2001
It was easy to find an article about educating adults, particularly the population that I am drawn to: ex-cons. Education is one aspect of a complicated solution to crime. Finding a source that is engaged in scholarly conversation with my ideas is also easy. Once I did a simple search, I added key words to my search and came up with a list of sources. In terms of tips or tricks, I find that Academic OneFile is always a good place to start. I put in my basic search, in this case I used “Adult Education”, and then I used the two “and” buttons to add the terms “GED” and “inmates”. I was presented with a list of 284 choices for articles about my topic.
Open Access Journals
Author: Nally, John M; Lockwood, Susan R; Ho, Taiping
Article Title: Employment of Ex-Offenders During the Recession
Publication Date: June 1, 2011
Journal Title: Journal of Correctional Education
It was also easy to find many articles on the subject of educating adults through open access journals. I searched for “open access journals” through Google, and then I added the term “prison”.
I used Google’s BlogSearch to locate a scholarly blog that addresses the difficult task of educating adults that are in some way disadvantaged. This was a great resource because, at the bottom of Mr. Rosen’s blog, he listed six additional adult literacy blogs and a wealth of information from the Adult Literacy Education (ALE) Wiki. It’s a free, web-based information resource by and for the adult
literacy education community in North America.
Becoming A GED Teacher
an ISearch Paper
Over the last few years, as I maintain recovery from years of drug addiction, I am constantly told that “we only keep what we have by giving it away.” This message can easily be interpreted as: the best career choice for an addict who is now clean and sober is to work in the field of treatment, as a drug and alcohol counselor. There are however, many career choices for a recovering addict looking to give back. After considering what I am passionate about, what I have education and experience in, and listening to advice from professionals, I have discovered a career that satisfies my desire to give back and allows me to follow my passion. There is hardly a better way to give back than to teach, and my goal to is to teach adults that want to improve their lives.
What degree (Bachelors or Masters) do I need to teach GED classes and/or General Education to adults? Are there any additional requirements or skills needed for teaching specifically to people that are incarcerated or institutionalized? What qualities do I have that will make me a good teacher? Will my criminal record prevent me from getting a job as a teacher?
What I Found and Where I Found It:
The search to find out about teaching adults as a career, and what is required in terms of education and training was more complex than I initially thought it would be. As a college student, I assumed that an appointment with an academic advisor would result in receiving a one page description of my chosen career, followed by a list of required courses. Unfortunately, after waiting four hours on three different days, what I found was , the advisors knew little to nothing about teaching adults as a career, nor did they know how, or where to direct me. My search became as much about finding an advisor as is was about the ABSE (Adult Basic and Secondary Education) career field.
I utilized every professional relationship that I have on campus, and realized that I had to get creative in order to discover exactly what do I have to do to teach adults as a professional. I started by going to Mark Harris at the Recovery Center, thinking that this department may have given career information or advisement to other recovering addicts over the years. Mark was willing to help, but unfortunately knew nothing about which program or degree I should pursue. He did though offer to walk me over to the GED/ABSE building, which I did not even know existed. Mark introduced me to one of the Professors in the department, and I was able to interview Christine Grutta, an LCC employee and energetic, young GED teacher with a Master’s Degree in communications. My creativity was starting to produce the results and answers I was seeking.
I noticed right away that Christine Grutta absolutely loves her job. She enjoys teaching, she relates well to her students, and she likes the diverse population and helping people achieve their goals. Speaking about the many different life experiences that her students approach her classes with, Christine said, “You have to accept people unconditionally, and meet them where they’re at.” Grutta teaches two classes in basic math, has open office hours every day, and spends a good portion of her time designing curriculum. “The challenge is in delivering effective, quality experience,” Grutta says.
In the office next to Mrs. Grutta, I met Mary Foust, a GED teacher with a Master’s degree in Adult Education from Oregon State University. For the last twenty years, Foust has been teaching GED at several different institutions including the Lane County Jail. As excited as I was to meet the person who has the exact job I would love to secure, I was equally as disappointed that she was too busy to meet with me before the deadline for this research project. What I learned from our brief conversation though, was that every professor in the ABSE department at Lane has a Master’s Degree, and that the additional education, though not required by definition, is absolutely necessary to be employed at the college level, and is virtually required to be able to compete for a position.
I was forced to continue my search for information specific to teaching adults that are either in an institution or people with a history in the judicial system, through other means. The US Department of Labor’s website is particularly helpful for this research, because the General Education Degree and the GED test is issued by The American Council of Education, an organization in Washington DC that is not a government agency, but is affiliated with every institution of higher learning and adult education in the country. I learned that “President Obama joined a chorus of voices that have been sounding alarm bells about America’s level of educational attainment…and they all call for the United States to drastically increase the percentage of adults with a postsecondary credential (American Council on Education.)” Included in the focus on educating adults, is additional funding for GED programs.
With the President’s support, I see that there is a growing need for teachers willing to teach adults. A common thread among websites that describe ABSE teachers is a personality description of the type of teacher that can be effective and successful in this field. There are no special requirements needed to teach at a county jail, state prison or other institution, but there are certain qualities a person can possess that will make a better candidate for such a position. According to O*Net, a division of the US Department of Labor, integrity, a concern for others and dependability are the top three qualities an employer will look for. Hearing this makes me wonder why there are not more recovering addicts looking for a job as a GED teacher, particularly when criminal background checks are not required by Lane Community College.
What I Have Learned:
A passion for education, combined with a desire to help people is an ideal combination in terms of qualities that a potential employer would look for in a GED teacher. A community college offers a unique environment where people are coming from many different backgrounds, and there is the potential to work directly with people who may have been involved with the judicial system, as well as people from many different areas of life. When helping people improve their lives is the focus of the position, there is a strong impetus to find caring teachers and whether in a criminal justice institution, or an institution of higher learning, I can live my passion and help others create theirs by teaching adults as a career.
Since my focus of study is as important as my personality when applying for a position in the ABSE field, it appears that the Human Services department will be my main source of academic advising, theoretically, that is. I believe, as a result of this research, that community resources, the internet and networking with professionals who work at the colleges will be equally important as I pursue a career as a teacher. Human Services seems to encompass all of the appropriate fields to teaching in this community, and ultimately, I intend to transfer to a four year University to complete a degree. I will complete my Bachelor’s Degree in English since I have transcripts from my prior schools with a focus on English courses and, with a strong recovery program I am a good candidate for a position in this field.
An article I found on the web, written by Jennifer Williamson, said that a degree, in any related field that will provide skills to teach adults, is acceptable. I met a Communications major, an English major, and a Psychology major, all working as GED teachers. The Professors I met were diverse, intelligent and clearly what is required to create successful students is a variety of teachers, with different areas of expertise. I believe I have a perfect combination of passion, compassion and enthusiasm to excel as a GED teacher. While I was incarcerated, I was employed as a GED tutor, and it was satisfying personally and professionally.
When I earn a Bachelor’s degree, I will be a good candidate for a position as a GED teacher. My experience with adults in need of education, together with my post secondary education is a unique combination, giving me an ideal skill set for working as a teacher. It is true that we only keep what we have by giving it away. I look forward to being a GED teacher that is able to provide career counseling, and to being the faculty member to interview when a student wants to be a GED teacher.
American Council on Education. Washington DC: p2., 2010. ACE. Web. 12 May 2010. <http://www.acenet.edu/Content/NavigationMenu/About/ACEBrochure.pdf>. The brochure for ACE, the American Council on Education, includes mission statement, membership, values and goals of the agency.
Grutta, Christine. Personal interview. 3 May 2010. Christine is a GED teacher at Lane Community College. I spoke with her about her passion for teaching, and what attributes will benefit me as a teacher.
“Summary Report For: 25-3011.00 – Adult Literacy, Remedial Education, and GED Teachers and Instructors.” O*NET. Dept. of Labor, Employment and Training Administration., 2008. Web. 9 May 2010. <http://online.onetcenter.org/link/summary/25-3011.00#menu>. Database of specific attributes of a GED teacher
Williamson, Jennifer. “Becoming a GED Teacher: How to Get Started.” Distance Education.org. Indigo Education, LLC, 2010. Web. 4 May 2010. <http://www.distance-education.org/Articles/Becoming-a-GED-Teacher–How-to-Get-Started-56.html>. This was written by a woman who taught GED classes at a non-profit agency for two years. I intend to use this article to specifically identify what degree will be most helpful to find a job as a GED teacher.