Today I substitute taught at a juvenile correctional facility.
I had heard about the facility a while ago, and i was tempted to fill-in there but it wasn’t until I talked to some teachers at another local school that I really thought i’d give it a try.
Like a lot of people, I was nervous to go there. I was intimidated by the fact that the kids there are…incarcerated. But the more I heard about it, the more intrigued I was: small class sizes, no possibility of snow days, kids whose very freedom depends on their cooperation with authority. From what I could see, these weren’t bad kids. they are kids who did some really dumb, or even bad things; but they themselves did not seem like bad people.
I played basketball with the boys’ PE class. It was probably the one time of the day that they are allowed outside and the closest thing they currently have to a sense of freedom. I’ve never been much of a basketball player. I’ve always lacked the coordination for the sport; but I wanted to connect with the kids. I actually scored 8 points.
The entire day was a very…humbling experience. It really helped me put a lot of things into perspective. Concerns and stressors that I’ve had lately suddenly didn’t quite so important. The kids with whom i worked were pretty much stripped down to the basics – literally. These are young people who have lost their freedom. The experience mad me not only appreciate the small things; but it also made me realize that things currently can and will work out .
Naturally, seeing these young people there naturally got me thinking about The Kid and hoping that he stays out of trouble. Given the chance, I would most certainly work at this facility again.