TRANSCRIPT: 3 Things to Consider When Implementing Restorative Practices (feat. Eric Graves)
6:55PM Jul 7, 2022
social emotional learning
People commit crimes for good reason to them. And if and if you live in a counterculture, or if these are the only choices you believe, that are available to you, you might very well make these decisions, because they make a sense to you. If I'm going to teach you something new, I can't shame me. I have to help bring you back to this place where we restore you, and first and then we can restore the community. But part of the conversation I'm having is that restorative practices aren't easy. We had and I think it's okay, as long as Johnny kicks Susie, in that's it, you know, and don't do that anymore, and whatever. But the challenges that we're facing, are not just about Johnny kick and Susie, Johnny has done something egregious. And we don't want Johnny around. And that is the heart conversation. Because we are afraid of John and John, he's afraid of himself. Well, what do we do here? How do we restore that environment when someone has violated our sense of safety, violated our sense of dignity, made us feel uncomfortable? That's the conversation that we need to have not that light hearted. You know, pushing someone off to swings. Let's let's work this out.
I’m Nikki Herta, and this is BRIGHT: Stories of Hope & Innovation in Michigan Classrooms, a podcast where we celebrate our state’s educators and explore the future of learning.
BRIGHT is brought to you, in part, by Meemic Insurance Company, insuring the educational community for more than 70 years. Teachers and school employees, visit Meemic.com/Quote to see how much you can save.
In today’s episode of BRIGHT, I chat with Eric Graves, who is the former statewide coordinator for the Michigan Cares program. Not long after this interview was recorded, Eric stepped away from this role to pursue another opportunity, but nevertheless, we’re grateful for the perspective offered in this episode rooted in his wealth of experience across numerous and varied roles in education.
Throughout our conversation, Eric implores the listener to think deeply about our collective perception of those who have committed infractions, explores what true community healing requires of all of us, and offers three things to consider when implementing restorative practices.
All right, Eric. Well, it's such a joy to have you on the right podcast today. Thanks for joining me.
Thank you for having me.
Can you tell me about the most interesting project that you are working on right now?
Well, it happens to be Michigan cares. I think it's it's outstanding that the state has provided an opportunity for all schools in the state of Michigan to have a free social emotional learning curriculum to be the base or the foundation for their mental health program. It's an online social emotional learning platform, it's the curriculum is k 12. The ideal is that you can get on as either an individual or school and work on social emotional issues and challenges that you're facing, either as a school community, our individual things, from vaping, to bullying, to harassment, to sexual harassment to identification, any of those issues are available on this, this social, emotional, black learning platform. It has over 1500 lessons. And it has a mental health component. It has a social emotional learning component, it has a restorative practices component. So it's a pretty robust system that allows it, it really allows the school to collaborate with the individual and the system in order in order to actually meet the needs of each and every student. It's, it's pretty exciting. But what's interesting enough, it came out of a pretty challenging place, it came out of a pandemic, and Michigan Virtual Network with a navigate 360 to provide this opportunity. And it really is going to make a difference in the lives of children well beyond the pandemic. So it's pretty exciting to be the statewide coordinator for this for this program.
So it sounds like schools can use this, like this content, essentially, you know, these online lessons to work with either students who have specific issues, you know, like with vaping, for example, or to educate you know, an entire group of kids you know, about these issues and just ways to deal with these challenges and think through them.
Absolutely, absolutely. The good thing about this, this platform is that it's proactive. So you can actually integrate it into your day to day lessons. So you don't have to wait for a kid to have a particular issue. A lot of times when kids have issues. They're not in The best state to actually learn what's happening, gotta give them some time to give them opportunity to reflect. But if you can help build the tools for them to prevent the situation, then that's that's exactly what this curriculum does. And the spiral, so a kid is getting information year in and year out. And it's age appropriate. So it's a really good strategy. You don't want your mental health, or your social emotional learning to be, you know, retroactive or downstream. Once a kid makes a mistake, you got, I got you. We want to teach kids what we want them to know. So it's very important that we program it in.
Well, thanks for sharing a little bit about that with us. I wondered if you could tell me a little bit about a moment in time in which you vividly fell in love with education. So this could have been before you entered the field or just one of the many times throughout that solidified your passion for what you do.
So it's interesting, I remember I could I've fallen in love with education over and over again. So there are just so many things about education, that excites me, the fact that we've got this proactive institution that is available for people to be successful in their lives to integrate into the society. And it's, you know, I'm a civics teacher at heart, a history teacher, her. So I really fall in love with, but I really love education. But I think the time I can remember is I grew up in a, in a challenging community, it was the projects of Martin, Tennessee, it was de facto segregated. There were challenges all around. And I went to school. And the first thing I fell in love with wasn't school itself, or it was actually teaching and learning somehow or another, the math that what was being taught in the math class connected with what I was learning and science, and art, and I was able to reconcile it and get it. And then somehow or another, I just remember getting it. So I don't know, if I what was happening all those years before that, and I just, and then the language arts class was connected to the social studies class. And so everything just started coming together for me and I, I just got excited about learning and connecting. And, and school was just a safe place where, you know, I, I just, I got schooled at this school Well, and, and that's when I fell in love with it. And I wanted to be a teacher. And then I wanted to be a principal at an early age, because I liked the fact that there was a proactive institution that you can be in this situation, but if you work hard, you can move in. And, and I really, really enjoy it.
I love hearing that. And that, you know, your own experience. Having those moments, you know, those learning moments and connecting all the dots, like empowered you to want to offer that to other students. You know, that's, I love hearing your stories. And I know that you have had an interesting path into education, you played a lot of different roles, like you said, you were, you know, a teacher and a principal. And now you know, your your role as the statewide coordinator for Michigan cares. So do you want to just tell us a little bit about that journey that led you to where you are today.
It started way, way, way back when but I was in college, and I was playing football to University of Michigan. And I had a decent career. But it wasn't what I had anticipated it would be. And I found myself teaching during my student teaching at Pioneer High School. And I found that I enjoyed working with kids in the classroom, and on the football field because I was also a coach as much as I enjoy playing the game of football. So we kind of mediate it, you know, guys leave the sport, whatever, and they struggle. I didn't have that struggle. I really enjoyed the engagement, the challenge the growth that kids were experiencing. So that was my first experience. I did my student teaching at Pioneer High School, that I immediately worked in an alternative school. In fact, that happened to be the oldest alternative program in the country. I didn't know that at the time. Yeah. And then I went to a rather rural community to what I thought was real at the time, which was last cruise. I deer hunting season. You know via you know, being a city fella kinda. It was a shocking to me. But I found myself after teaching and Lance crews and then in arbor. And in Southfield. I found myself as an assistant principal at Ypsilanti, and Ypsilanti had just their principal had just gotten promoted. And while I became principal, and that's where I really got rooted into the How To Make systems work for kids in education outside of the classroom. And then that matriculated into I left education for a while because I had spent, you know, the last 15 years in a building. So I went I left and I went in to corporate America for a couple of years purchase a franchise became a master franchise, I had that experience. But I had a heart for teaching and learning, I realized that that was really like my callings. A lot of people have an occupation, they have a career. And some folks get blessed with a calling. And so I had to find myself coming back in and I entered into the charter school world, I was really sold on this idea that, you know, you can, that zip code shouldn't dictate the quality of education that a kid receives. So that was a wonderful experience. For me. I've always done some educational, educational consulting, where I would speak and do these types of things. But my heart was moved toward Michigan cares program. Because as a principal, I found myself really struggling with the social emotional learning issues that the students were experiencing. And I was a principal that was about creating an environment where teachers could teach and students could learn. And I love teaching so much that I wanted to protect the sanctity of that environment. But the thing that I struggled with is being such a stringent rule follower during the zero tolerance, and the No Child Left Behind aspect, I found myself removing numerous numbers of kids out of out of out of education, out of not only out of the classroom, because that was the first element, you know, more than 15 minutes of loss instruction, and that impact, but then out of out of the building, because I had a lot of zero tolerance policies that were very effective for the students that were in the building. And but not so effective for the kids that were outside. So I found myself in that space where I wanted to see what could be done to actually help kids get to where they needed to get to, as well as because of the environments I found myself working in, I recognize that there were staff who were some of the times experiencing secondary trauma, because they would walk into these very devastating environments, and they didn't know how to handle it. And, and they will take it home with them, they didn't have the coping skills or strategies. And so they would wash out of the system, before they actually ended up, you know, getting to develop and grow. So I saw the need for social emotional learning. At the time, I was really calling it mental health. But and it just so happened that the the position at Michigan Virtual, became available around social emotional learning. And I said, Hey, let me let me step into this and see what what this is all about.
Thanks for sharing that it's, you know, really cool, since I've gotten to know you a little bit to hear your to hear your journey. And I think it just, it does lend, you know, an interesting perspective to what we're going to be talking about today, which is three things to consider when implementing restorative practices. And so just hearing like, just the varied amount of positions that you've been in from being a teacher to being a principal, to working in, you know, the oldest alternative school, you know, that's pretty cool. And so that kind of helps to provide some context on where you're coming from, with some of these suggestions. So thank you for that. So, before we get into our three things to consider when implementing restorative practices, I'd like to just pause and unpack a couple of key terms here and set the stage a little bit. So if someone who's listening doesn't know what restorative practices is, would you offer us a definition, in your words, of what this is and why it's so important?
Okay, well simply put restorative practices or to restore the restore the individual, that, that that was harmed, or what we might call the victim, who restores the environment that might have been harmed, or disrupted, but it also is designed to restore the person who was fatally wounded or are out of sync, that created the problem in the first place. You know, people do things for good reason. So a lot of times when a student participates in a behavior that takes away from another person's liberties, freedom, that that hurts the environment, they're doing it for good reasons to them, that was their best thinking at that time. So restorative practices, not just restore the, the end of it, the individual was harmed. restorative practice also restores or brings to a new, the individual committed the offense, and it works on the community. So it's a it's a comprehensive, whole child approach, a whole community approach to dealing with infractions or challenges. They come up in a school community.
Thank you, I really appreciate that framing of really bringing out the restorative elements of it and emphasizing that. And this is in contrast to zero tolerance policies, which, you know, if someone isn't as familiar, tend to be things like suspension, expulsion, things that, as you said earlier, remove students from the building, and maybe are effective for the students who are in the classroom, you know, who are being whose learning may have been disrupted by whatever the you know infraction that the other student did was, but there's tons of research showing that those zero tolerance policies don't end up with good results, you know, for the students who are suspended and expelled. Is that accurate?
Absolutely, you know, if you have zero tolerance, and then if he commits in a fraction, when I was, in high school, we had a 10 day suspension. For fighting, zero, we had zero tolerance. And if you if you fought twice, or three times, depending on the grade level, you're removing from the school environment permanently. And so it was a very effective to curtail the violence, but it didn't curtail the violence in the community. And it also didn't address or deal with the issues that precipitated the desire to fight. So you don't really change behaviors, you delay or you prevent behaviors. And so putting a restorative practice program in place actually allows you to get at the behaviors before something blows up later. So you got a kid, and you're just student in your school community that gets suspended for fighting. And you do a zero tolerance. And then the kid integrates back in a couple of weeks later, or whatever the case, but the issues or the way they address the issues are not resolved. And I've had times when I was high school principal, where kids who had a challenge in middle school fault in high school, the same issue was prolonged for three or four years. Yeah, so So you have to say that some of these issues don't go away, you know, they just grow up. And so we so we want to say, how do we, how do we implement restorative practices, and understanding the importance that it has not only for the individual, like I said before, but for the person who's done, who did the harm, as well as for the community?
Yeah, it's helpful to get those that, you know, comparison there to see, you know, how these different approaches to school discipline, you know, if you will, the different kinds of impacts I can have. And I really appreciate the way you described, you know, delaying the impact, versus actually like, helping restore or heal. And that's the part that we're going to talk about today, you know, is, what does that look like when you start implementing the restoring and the healing? Alternative to zero tolerance? So I was wondering, to help us visualize, you know, what restorative practices can look like, if you could talk a little bit about, you know, it could be a real example. Or it could be a hypothetical example. But what might a restorative program look like in practice at a school? And how does that look and feel different than what some of us might have experienced growing up under zero tolerance?
Okay, all right. So, our restorative program, I'm gonna give you a hypothetical. restorative practice may look something similar to this where students are in conflict. And what's important about a restorative practice is not that you're responding after the incident has taken place. So once again, you have to teach a student what you want them to know. Because the purpose of discipline is to teach and not to punish. So restorative practices, a lot of people don't know, the restorative practices start before the incident takes place. And so you have to have a platform where you're teaching kids how to handle issues, giving it taking it, working it out. Prior to someone committing an offense, if the first time we have a conversation about the offense is after the offense has been committed, or we take a student code of conduct. And we say, we told you this, here are the consequences. See you later. I hope you learned your lesson. Well learned what I still don't know how to solve this problem. All I know is that if I fight, and I'm going to consider is fighting is that consequence, is that worth it? Because I still have this issue. So you have a lot of students who in in that type of a situation or fight anyway, knowing the consequences, and except the consequences, because you don't have a structure. And so the important thing about restorative practice is to have a comprehensive program where you're teaching kids, the right way of doing things or the functional way of doing things prior to engaging in, in, in the situation in the incident. And then when you when you actually do have an incident, for example, something like fighting, of course, you've got to maintain safety first, right? You put kids where they need to be, and then we walk through how we came to the situation in the first place. Before you can restore something, you have to come to an understanding of what was the good reason? And they're always good. They're always good reasons as hard to understand. They're always good reasons to them. What was the good reason why you did what you did? And how did that work for you? How was that working for you? Now? Now? That is the foundation? And you have to have that that that that conversation or that structure first? What was the good reason that you did? And how is that working for you? Now, some of the times you can get stuck there. Because some folks, it was good for them. And there are and restorative practices does not mean that there aren't consequences. Right, you still have to protect the learning environment. So that you go in, you identify the reason why it was done, the good reason why it was done. You connect it to the past learning experiences and the agreements that you've made. That's where the Code of Conduct comes in. Right? Not not alone. But the code of conduct. We made these agreements, we worked on this practice, where are we at right now. And then we build a way of restoring the individual who committed the offense first. That's that's a hard thing to grasp. But a person can't restore something when they don't fully understand it. You don't want superficial apology. So upper restorative practices are not we're going to do this this way, every time it doesn't work, because people grow into that experience. So they don't eliminate suspension, they don't eliminate removing a student from the environment. But if you walk back here to a certain understanding, and restorative practices need to be a continuum from what happens in, say, a tier one situation, all the way to a potential removal. Because suspension and expulsion is not the end of the world. But when it happens without some type of way of giving a person a way back to giving a person a way to restore the environment, to first renew themselves, and then renew the situation. They offense with the individual or the property and then build a better community. Now, that's how you do it now.
Yeah, that's great. Thank you. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I had learned, like, a little bit about restorative practices before, but I'm, I'm learning in this conversation. So that's really cool. And I see your point that, you know, it doesn't always mean never, you know, having any sort of like, you know, removal from the learning environment with suspension or an expulsion, but it's allowing, not closing the door completely, you know, it's offering a means to make something right, or at least to help to restore it. Yeah. And then, do you have any stories that you can share with us that illustrate the importance of restorative practices over a zero tolerance approach to school discipline, some specifically kind of wondering about, like, you know, any students and we won't use names, you know, but any students that you've seen, really be benefited by a restorative approach to discipline over a zero tolerance system.
So I had a student who had committed a pretty challenging offense. And we had, we didn't have the entire restorative practices put in place, but we had some key elements to it. And one of the key elements is that we do things for good reason to us, right, that that we are not bad. But we may commit offenses or bad offenses. And so that, that we're going to remove the shame from the conversation, because shame freezes us. Right. So I had a student who committed an offense that it was was brought a a weapon to school that he had used to rob someone Earlier in that day, I participated. And this is a this heinous for people, right because of what we're experiencing. But this weapon he brought to school he brought to school because he used it to do something outside of the school, so that we have zero tolerance for weapons. But the way you deal with it that restorative practice to say, You did that for good reason to you. That's number one. Number two, how do we we're not going to shame you, what do we do from here, but still lay out the consequences. Because of this, you the, this is not a safe environment for you, and for others. But we are going to find a way to build you back. So we still had to take the individual to the board, we still, we still had to find alternative schooling because the students with special needs. So special needs students can be expelled for out of school entirely, they still have to receive some level of education, we placed that student in an alternative program, and they were able to graduate through and they went on to a community college and had a relatively successful experience. As you know, to my day that was 15 years ago, versus the practices of You are the worst thing in the world. You shame me, right? Blaming and being fearful. You know, and then we find ourselves in that state, where now the kid walks away with shame, and they don't try. And now these are the choices, made crimes for good reason to them. And if and if you live in a counterculture, or if these are the only choices you believe, that are available to you, you might very well make these decisions, because they make a sense to you. If I'm going to teach you something new, I can't shame you. I had to help bring you back to this place where we restore you. And first and then we can restore the community. That is that's that's the best example I can give you. I could have found a a nicer version of something that was not so heinous, right, that we're all comfortable with. But part of the conversation I'm having is that restorative practices aren't easy. We had and I think it's okay, as long as Johnny kicks Susie, and that's it. You know, and don't do that anymore and whatever. But the challenges that we're facing, are not just about Johnny kick and Susie, Johnny has done something egregious. And we don't want Johnny around. And that is the heart conversation. Because we are afraid of Johnny and Johnny's afraid of himself. Well, what do we do here? How do we restore that environment when someone has violated our sense of safety, violated our sense of dignity, made us feel uncomfortable? That that's the conversation that we need to have not the light hearted. You know, pushing someone off the swings. Let's let's work this out.
I’m Nikki Herta, and you’re listening to BRIGHT: Stories of Hope & Innovation in Michigan Classrooms. BRIGHT is brought to you, in part, by Meemic Insurance Company, insuring the educational community for more than 70 years. Teachers and school employees, visit Meemic.com/Quote to see how much you can save.
Today, I’m chatting with Eric Graves, the former statewide coordinator for the Michigan Cares program, who in his many years in education, has occupied a vast array of roles, acting as a teacher, principal, consultant, and more.
Up next, we dive into Eric’s top three things to consider when implementing restorative practices at your school.
Let's dig into your top three strategies. So what are three things that someone should consider when implementing restorative practices?
The first thing is understanding what restorative practices are not. It's very important to understand that restorative practices are not skipping over consequences. Restorative practices aren't you get to do whatever you want to do. And you say you're sorry, sort of practices are a a transformation and how you see how we deal with infractions, challenges and failure, and failure is not final. If people are allowed to make mistakes, and we create an environment where we can renew, then that is when you have that when you have that understanding of what restorative practices are doesn't mean that they're not consequences. But we have an understanding what restorative practices are, they are a way for people to come back into a community and come back to contributing to that community. They're a way to make right A situation that you've where you've harmed someone. But it also requires that the individual that has been harmed is receptive to being renewed. Because oftentimes the person that harmed someone was harmed themselves. So hurting people hurt people. So it's important that we understand what restore restorative practices are, so that we can start to engage, because it's not just working within those counterculture people, those people that break the rules, it's also working with people who have been harmed. This also working with that, that teacher whose classroom has been disrupted by 567 people, and they don't want that child back in class. Because or the kid says something that's defined, or dismiss them, hurt their feelings. It's about people who some of the times want to seek justice, because that's what we've been taught, is what heals us. And we know that that's not necessarily the truth. I love to show I just show a video of a young male picking on an older gentleman. And he's just picking on him. And the video is, is excruciatingly long, it's only about five minutes. But for three to four minutes, there is this younger gentleman, let's call him a thug, right? This thug just keeps picking on this older gentleman in the subway. He just keeps picking on him and picking at him, and massively is provoking in the fight. And people are not doing anything, somebody is screaming, you're asked to do something, but pretty much he's just picking on this gentleman. And what ends up happening is, as you see in a corner, another young man who walks by, and he slowly walks up to him, and right when the young man starts to pick on this guy, again, he clocks him in the face. So I've turned the video off, and I say, how satisfying was that? Let's justice right? Feels good, right? It's not going to do it again. Not necessarily could just look around better, right? So we have to work on ourselves. First, we have to understand where restorative practices are. And if we don't work on ourselves, and we can embrace this idea, because our school can talk about restorative practices, doesn't mean necessarily that community is ready for restoring the practice doesn't mean that we individually are ready for restorative practices. Yeah, and so. So that's, are we ready? Are we do we understand what this means? It's a new way of thinking, then it's, it really moves away from our, our whole process of how we write wrongs in our society. So it's not anti consequences, but it is a new way of thinking about how we, how we keep people in the community. How do we keep people in the community? I'm not going to let you go? My gonna throw you over the cliff, how do we keep people in this community? And so that's the first that's the first part is understanding what restorative practices is and what it is not?
Wow. I was just thinking, Yeah, I just hadn't realized before this conversation, how much of it is, you know, it's not just about the person who committed the infraction, you know, and that's what you're you built toward with a few different examples here. But you know, that it is a lot of us, you know, all of us in a community, thinking about, you know, our perceptions of what, how we deal with someone who does something that hurts us, you know, and it's your examples continue to show, you know, it's not pushing them out, getting out of sight, out of mind, you know, just for your own comfort. I mean, you know, that's one way to do it, but it doesn't actually bring healing. Would you like to lead us into your second thing to consider when implementing restorative practices?
Well, it's it's really it really connects with the other one that should school committee ready to implement restorative practices. One way that a lot of people like to start off is to say, hey, we've got a pipeline, the school to prison pipeline, we can't expel kids for things we used to be expelled them for. So we got us mandate to do this extorted practice. And the first time a community member hears anything about this, when somebody doesn't get suspended for what they expected to get suspended for or we Don't put an appropriate protocols in place for when someone is sincerely dangerous. And we say we were practicing restorative practice. And that's now the way you do it if you have a conversation, and one of the things that, you know, John Wooden used to say you be quick, but don't hurry. So you need to walk with some deliberateness because you're working on the way people believe. And it comes from their family systems origin. And you have to, it can't be mandated. It has to be communicated. And so you start a conversation about what takes place. And you connect with people via informed empathy about why this is necessary, and what are the consequences and it's better to, to teach than to repair, and you just end up in a gross. And and that's very hard to understand. Because the first thing we want to do, because we're not necessarily at schools, we don't necessarily build sustainable programs is that we drop it in and say, This is what we're doing today. And a lot of times our community is not on board. So the first thing is having open conversations about restorative practices, dialogues, about what what does that look like in your community, it doesn't look the same in every community, some communities are not going to formulate the way they do, and how they renew the community the same way another community might do so for good reason. And so you start with an open dialogue, right? About what this looks like. You know, we used to be able to shoot you if you stole a horse, right? So. Yeah, exactly. So it's so we have to, we have to start the conversation. And then we have to set realistic milestones, according to what's your, what's your community views? That's not what people want to hear. We got something good, let's all do it. Not so sure. Right?
Yeah. Yeah. Thank you. I'm making lots of connections today, which is, which is great. So would you like to lead us into your third tip for implementing restorative practices,
Once you have buy in from your community, you now need to start to work on what is the foundation for restorative practices. And it kind of goes back to our earlier conversation about social emotional learning, if we don't have a sense of who we are, and we don't understand empathy. And we feel if we are, if we don't know how to move from the conditioning of our past, then we can't move into into the future. So if we need to inflict a, we had to have a sense of justice. That means that another person needs to hurt because I've been hurting, then we're not going to be able to move forward. So we need to build a social emotional curriculum so that we can build the capacity of people to be able to engage in this work. And it's not, there's no endpoint. Because we've been continuing to move forward. So the first step is, is to have a social emotional learning curriculum that allows people to think about their thinking, and then think and then metacognition, and pre pre cognitive, because emotions are pre cognitive, right, you know, to the stimulus, the response in between. Now, we have to start to have a conversation about okay, how do I how do I rethink this? Because I'm feel this way. But I understand that the reason why I feel this way is because these are a set of thoughts that have been conditioned to tell me this is what this is. So now, now, I have to cancel some of those thoughts out, or rethink them or restructure them, so that I now can have a different kind of conversation, so that it feels right with me. A lot of people in schools adopt a program because they've been told to do so. And then in their hearts, and in their minds, they're resentful. So what they're going to do in their classroom, after Johnny does somebody who's not supposed to do is they're going to set Johnny up, because they need to prove that they were right, they need to prove that that emotion is right, because oftentimes, we don't do what we want to do. We do what's familiar. And if we got resentment, then it's very difficult for us. You know, the teachers not practicing it, the administrator is not practicing it. You know, somebody called me as such and such and so on. And now I'm upset about it. And every time I see him, I'm mad at him about it. Can I walk if somebody called me such and such and so on? And can I walk up and see the person and not the incident? So that takes a social emotional learning platform, so that we don't take a person so that we think about the greater community so that we care for the person even when they're hurting. That's what we need to do. Learn what our community is ready to do have a comprehensive social emotional learning curriculum, and they use best practices. We're ready to roll. Thank you for thank you for giving me this chance to have this conversation it means a lot to me.
Last question for you. Can you tell me about a teacher who had a positive impact on your life?
Oh, my God, I have so many. Well, the first thing I want to say is I still have a relationship with my high school principal. He and it's been 30 years and we probably he sends out texts, a couple of folks from bookstore, but we could get on the phone and talk it just about any time, I have been blessed to have a whole host of teachers that for whatever reason, took an interest in me and liked me. I remember a teacher saying to me when I was in math class, it's like Prego spaghetti sauce. It's in there, right? And I just love it, you know, that, just like what's going on. I had a teacher, that was my English teacher, and I had, I suffer from learning dyslexia. And meaning that the way I learned information is programmed in me. And some of the times if I'm stressed, or whatever, I will revert back to whatever that process is. And it can be very devastating and difficult for me. It wasn't diagnosed until I got to college. So it was kind of interesting. And so, you know, I had a, I had an English teacher, Miss Wilson, who was was just see was adamant about preparing us to be able to take on whatever challenges that were, that were that were facing us that we needed to have the writing was thinking on paper, and that we needed to be able to articulate our thoughts in a way that that would allow us to the interviewer or to, to share a complaint, or any of the real life skills that were necessary. So I mean, if I mean, I could just go on, and I don't. And you know, what's so interesting is that, I think it's because I'm in education, that I really embrace that the number of people that just, there's just care, you know, I mean, I could go all the way back to middle school. It's just been a wonderful, wonderful experience.
Without a doubt, it’s challenging work to rethink the way we treat those in our society who commit infractions against us and to create systems of school discipline that are more compassionate, community-oriented, and ultimately, restorative. But with leaders like Eric forging our path forward, if there’s one thing we’re certain of: it’s that the future is BRIGHT.
If your school could benefit from a free social emotional learning curriculum, check out Michigan Cares, which is available at no cost to all Michigan schools and districts.. With Michigan Cares, students can understand how to manage their emotions. From learning how to set and achieve goals to making responsible decisions, Michigan Cares guides students, parents, and staff to turn struggles into strategies with over 1,300+ lessons. There’s real-time data reporting for school leaders, mental health & prevention content, and an option to add on a restorative justice program. To learn more, visit michiganvirtual.org/michigancares.
Do you know someone who is an inspiring Michigan educator who should be featured on our show? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know who they are and why they should interview them.
Thank you for joining us for this episode of BRIGHT: Stories of Hope & Innovation in Michigan Classrooms. This podcast is produced by Herbie Gaylord, is hosted by me, Nikki Herta, and is shaped by many of our passionate and talented colleagues.
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The BRIGHT podcast is made possible by Michigan Virtual, a nonprofit organization that’s leading and collaborating to build learning environments for tomorrow. Education IS changing faster than ever. Discover new models and resources to move learning forward at your school at michiganvirtual.org.