Old Friends and New Ideas
Old friends and new ideas, sounds like a poem but actually it is the theme (in my opinion) behind attending education conferences. Recently many of “us” attended the 12th annual Professional Development Symposium which was a great success. When I refer to “us” I am referring to that hardy group of educators, administrators, and support personnel that have chosen to work in corrections. These are the same folks that I seem to bump into 7 to 8 times a year at similar conferences and other quarterly meetings who I like to refer to as old friends. Of course I don’t mean “old” as in age but “old” as in knowing them for a while, none of us are getting old, just more experienced. I consider these acquaintances friends because we seem to share a common goal of teaching those who others have probably given up on. They are friends because they too see the same kids as I do, but with different names. These old friends know that these kids are usually far behind their peers in the public schools, and fall further every new school year until it seems impossible to ever catch up. These friends also see these same kids entering back into detention several times a year, each time with the same story of failing probation and dropping out of school. But these same friends of mine never seem to give up on these kids, they just try something different, something that may work better this time, something that has been tried at another facility or presented at a conference, something that could be called a new idea.
Individually in our separate county detention schools we may be small and single minded but collectively as an entire state of detention centers we are a large group with many minds and many years of experience. But despite the many years of experience between us we all know there is more to learn, such as a better way to teach those that don’t want to learn, or controlling behavior, and perhaps techniques we never thought of before. This recent ACE conference as with the numerous meeting and conferences before gives detention educators a chance to connect with others in the same field. To reaffirm what we are doing is working or to adjust our technique and move in a different direction. As always, I am looking forward to our next gathering to learn from old friends and their new ideas.