For those who have already been through communication skills training, it doesn’t take data to convince us of its worth. But as the CFCC approaches businesses, municipalities, and schools to encourage partnerships, backing up the ‘feel good stories’ with empirical evidence can only strengthen a case to implement the course.
In this episode, Adam J. Salgat and Mike Desparrois discuss with Gina Wilson from Central Michigan University about the work being done to add this element to the quiver for the CFCC team.
AI-generated dictation of the podcast audio
Please note that this transcription was completed using AI software. Occasionally, unanticipated grammatical, syntax, homophones, and other interpretive errors are inadvertently transcribed by the software. Please excuse any errors that have escaped final proofreading.
Welcome to the listen first podcast brought to you by the Chapman foundation for caring communities. Our vision and mission is to strengthen relationships and build stronger communities through listening, leadership, care and service to create a truly human connection. Learn and partner with us as we imagine a society in which people care about each other. And listen first.
Adam Salgat 0:38
Welcome to the listen first podcast. I’m your host, Adam Salgat. As our community listens transitions into the champion foundation for caring communities. This podcast will continue to be a tool to refresh the teachings of the communication skills course. It will also allow us to learn more about the people inside the organization and the businesses we partner with. In this episode, Mike despairs of Chapman foundation for caring communities. And Gina Wilson, from Central Michigan University to talk about the research being done to help provide statistics behind the impact of the our community listens, training.
I’m so excited for our conversation today. Education is a an important part in my life as my wife as a teacher, we’ve talked about that a number of times on the podcast. And I’d like to welcome Mike in Mike, how you doing today?
Speaker 4 1:35
Doing great, Adam. Thanks for having me back in today.
Adam Salgat 1:38
Happy belated birthday.
Unknown Speaker 1:40
I appreciate that another year younger.
Adam Salgat 1:42
Yep. You don’t look a day pass 32. So you’re doing pretty good. And Gina, thanks so much for joining us on the podcast today.
Unknown Speaker 1:53
Yeah, a problem. So very glad to be here.
Adam Salgat 1:56
I’m going to start off with you, Gina, and kind of help us get a little bit of background on on you. First of all, why did you decide to go into education? Why did you decide to work in education?
Speaker 3 2:07
Well, actually, education kind of found me. I have always loved science. And so when I started college, I thought I would go into the medical field and put science to work in the human standpoint. But then I did some volunteering that didn’t go so Wow. And so then I went undecided. And I have this level of learning. And so having my major be undeclared was kind of a gift. So I just chucked classes working towards my degree, until one day when my advisor called me and told me that I could not take any more classes, because I had exhausted all of what I needed, and that I had to declare a major. So in meeting with my advisor, you know, I really at that point in time, had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. And so he he said, I had done really well in English and very well in my social science classes, and offered that I be an English major, and a social science minor. And so I immediately asked, I was I’m a first gen college, graduate, and attendee. So I asked, What can I do with that? Like, what job does that gives me? And he hesitated. And so I knew that my immigrant father was going to be happy with me not being able to articulate what job this degree and investment that he was making would, would would lead to. So I was like, yeah, that’s not gonna work. And he said, Well, have you ever thought about teaching? And I said, Well, I hate kids. And he said, Well, maybe not Elementary. What about secondary, he said, because most secondary teachers really just love the content. They don’t necessarily go into it for the kid. And because I had some classes that I really wanted to take, I was like, yep, just put me down as an education major. I’ll do the introductory class. Right. It was 80 hours of observation work. And I said, and we’ll see how it goes after this semester. Well, I was placed in an alternative high school to do 80 hours or hunt, I think it was actually 180 hours of observation. And within the first 20 hours, I was doing lessons, teaching lessons, volunteering for field trips, I completely fell in love with the classroom, and the school environment, and I really haven’t looked back. So that’s why I call it accidental. But But in thinking back, I was kind of always a teacher, pretty bossy, pretty organized. Pretty, always about learning, and always about telling people how to learn. And like my stuffed animals were valedictorians like I talked to them and they were super smarty pants. So I should have known that the classroom and the education field was exactly where I would end up.
Adam Salgat 4:45
That’s a beautiful story. It’s so interesting to hear you talk about how even though you didn’t plan for it, and you seemingly fell into it, your natural skills to a cold and look what you found. That’s awesome. Yep, found my passion work. Now you have you know, your current role in education at Central Michigan University. Can you tell us about that?
Speaker 3 5:08
Sure. So currently, over the past two years, I have been an assistant professor with the Department of Educational Leadership. And I’m also I also serve as a Program Director for the two graduate degrees that we offer students and our degrees prepare future educational leaders. So typically, the students that are in my classrooms are either teachers seeking the degree in the credentials to become principals of schools, or principals who are seeking the degree and credentials to become superintendents or other district level administrators. So now, I train the future educational leaders. So that’s what I do on a day to day basis. That’s my gig. That’s pretty sweet. And a big Yeah. And it’s a component of that, too, when you’re when you’re a professor is of service. So you have to be a scholarship, service and teaching. So that’s what I teach. And then my service side, I get to be a great partner with great organizations. And, but I also get to do research. And so that brings me to the other interest piece and why I think I’m here today Chapman?
Speaker 4 6:13
Well, Jean, it’s so great to have you here. I know me and you have had many conversations about the education research all the way back to our very first meeting almost two years ago, right when I came up to Michigan, and you and I met in that coffee shop and talked about all the possibilities and the excitement and decided we became best friends at that moment in time and education. Yeah, I think we had very similar paths to how we became educators and quickly realized how fast we fell in love with the field and just with the idea of supporting people and supporting kids and supporting teachers as well, too. So you’ve been you’ve been in our program for a while our community listens, you took the three day class and you told me while you were inside the class, it was hard for you to be present as a participant, because you’re so excited about the possibilities of what the our community listens, three day class could do for educators and for kiddos and for administrators, just anybody with any type of connection in the education field. Can you can you talk to us a little bit about how you’ve used your skills that you have learned to support educators prior to this, this crazy last word year of the pandemic, and then also during the pandemic, because no doubt while working with all those administrators to get all those teachers to get them prepared to be administrators, you’ve probably had to do quite a bit of support for them as well to
Speaker 3 7:39
know absolutely, and you actually describe it like the I have always been about relationships in my, in my philosophy and my practice as an educator, whether it was when I was a teacher, whether it was when I was an assistant, principal, Principal, you know, Superintendent, it didn’t matter. I relationships were foundational to me. But I quickly realized that that’s not the case for every educator, and there’s a discomfort there, or there’s a difference of how to build relationships. So when I sat through this course, I kept I was like, I kept having this, like, this is it this is how we this is how we quality assure high impact positive relationship for all kiddos like I was it was very hard to stay connected. And so but I did I worked really hard because I’m a learner, and I’m a good student. And and when the content that I left Wes has been has. I mean I fancied myself a pretty good communicator because I I’m often called articulate I have no problem with word work or my thing. But for me the two biggest takeaways that fill the gap in skill set and knowledge for me but also really served me in my role as professor of teachers during the pandemic. And in my in it also serves me in my capacity, I do a lot of work around advocacy and activism around equity, inclusion, diversity and justice. So the skill that helps me there is reflective listening, that skill set of tempering my need and habit of creating solution, offering advice. And just centering the the centering who I’m listening to rather than centering what I innately feel I need to do to help because I’m a helper tempering that really changed, changed who I am and how I build relationships. And so for my students during the pandemic, they were, you know, in the field taking graduate courses, but they were teachers who were shifting modalities on a day to day basis. They were mothers and fathers who are still trying to serve their home and that reflective listening allowed me to sit with them hold space for and with them. While they just shared their they will come Come to me and say, Can we talk I have an issue. But usually, what you always find when you actually engage in the reflective listening practice that you learn in the three day course, is that there really wasn’t a solution to find. The solution itself is the listening. It is that moment it is that holding space because the solution resides within your list your communication partner, but they are so they haven’t found it yet. So you are just a mirror, you are just kind of a wall to deflect what they’re saying, you know, that respective piece, and they often laugh with their own solution. But with Follis with self care, they felt more competently to have this conversation, because I just affirmed what was inside of them. So that was that was truly a gift, not only for me, because I am a helper because I felt so helpful after I was a good listener. And they felt it affirmed for them that they have the competence and competence to endeavor these crisis’s and need to trust their own instincts. So that was that such a powerful tool, as a leader to put the pause it because you as a leader, when you’re school leader, or a district leader, or a mom, you know you’re the leader of your family, you’re always putting out fires. And sometimes that’s the easiest solution for you. But it actually helped no one in the course there was a quote that like, it was my disrupter. You know, it’s sad. helpfulness is the funny side of control. Because I would say for decades, I’m just being helpful. And I’m so sorry that you don’t appreciate my right, I’m not, again centering self. But realizing that if they didn’t ask for help explicitly, you’re a being helpful, you’re controlling the situation for your own benefit and need. So So silencing that helpful nature and making sure that it stayed in a positive vein and wasn’t inactive until someone specifically asked for it has been a tool that came out of that reflective listening practice. And then the other piece is the flexing. So when you go through and you learn your own communication profile, and the flexing is, you know, is is taught in the context of, of your communication of your of your behavioral disposition, right of what your tendencies are in behaviors. But if you take that concept of Flexi and apply it in other spaces, like flexing about your identity, and someone else’s identity, or flexing around someone else’s lived experience, or religious background, or racial identity, you know, you can flex all day, and it allows you to stay in that super empathetic space. With that very minute skill of, oh, this is a place of discomfort for me, because it’s not my experience. Let me flex without judgment, just with the act of staying in the moment with that person and understanding that differences are okay. And differences bring about learning. And I’m about to go on a learning journey. So let me say in this moment, and so get that flexing give us permission how to do that. And so it is such a powerful context within the three day training that I that I hope people are understanding that they can adapt that from your behavioral tendencies into so many different aspects of your day to day that can allow you to again, connect at that deeper level. So for me, those are the two things that on a daily basis, have changed how I live in this world and within with the students and people that I have in my span of care.
Speaker 4 13:33
I love how you’ve adapted that. And do you not just put it into your your toolbox for the educators that you work with, but you put it into your toolbox for your friends and for your family and for your kiddos at home and your support systems. As we’ve kind of gone through this. And I know you’ve been a big highlight, I guess I kind of want to say for your community in the past year with not just the pandemic, but the riots and all the issues and problems that have come forward as well, too. And Gina, I really think I want to kind of highlight this going into our conversation into the research. When you and I first connect it, it was like our brains just matched because you and I have had this cognitive dissonance for a long time that as educators, right, like as people who were trained, of course back in the day, we’re you know, we’re a little bit older too. We’ve been around
Unknown Speaker 14:28
just at this moment.
Speaker 4 14:31
It’s fascinating that, you know, Teresa Wiseman, and we highlight her in our training with the four qualities of empathy is a nursing scholar, and nurses are so well trained with human connection, empathy, and what I love and I’ve just taken over what you call people in skills in in education, we have like this most precious resource of these kiddos, right? And we’re taught methodology content, pedagogy and curriculum and very, very little on connection, and peoplein skills with the kids who were the people that are gonna be leaving us and needed the most. And so like, we connect it right at that moment in time, and then all sudden, like the volcano blew up, and we’re super excited. So can you lead us into why this is so important? Now we connect it to the research, and also really start focusing on how we’re going to work with educators, we’ve been working with educators, honestly, but how we can use the research to connect with them. So we can help support them to support people in skills with our kiddos.
Speaker 3 15:35
Yeah, and it is such a disconnect. When you’re trained as teachers, and both of I, both of us were trained as teachers, and I don’t necessarily think teacher prep has changed all that much. But because it’s not considered a human helping professions. So So typically, you’ll hear of a helping profession, which is like social work and counseling and nursing, and they get trained on social emotional skills, interpersonal communication skills, and they because they need a bedside manner, they are working with clients, for whatever reason, that doesn’t exist in teacher practice. It doesn’t exist in administrator. And it baffles me, because humans, and humanity resides in school. And, but yet, we’re asked to leave our humanity, you know, at the doorway of the schoolhouse before we enter, and prioritize and center pedagogy and curriculum and rules and regulations, right. And then we impose that on these on these babies, I always call my students, children, and students who have never, they’ve never gone through pedagogy, they don’t know that that’s important. They’re here to learn content. But at the first and foremost, they’re human children who need interaction and who need connection. And specifically, I’ll say, students who come from minoritized, or marginalized or vulnerable populations, it’s essential for them to even become available for learning in the schoolhouse, the relationship, if the relationships don’t exist, the learning can’t happen. And that is why there’s this broad achievement gap amongst our children. And then to assume that, again, because there’s no intentionality about preparing teachers and admin to human in a school setting, to assume that what I bring is what is going to work for everybody else, like my lived experience is my identity, my understanding of care, my understanding of context, my understanding of culture, is going to work for everyone. Well, that’s just arrogant, like we the schools are diverse, and we need to be willing to flex and adapt to stay in a space of Learn and connection. And so that is where and in school, again, when we’re using the word arrogance, we tend not to use anything to the betterment of our schools, to the reform of our schools to the training of our teacher, unless they’re quote, unquote, research based, meaning there’s proof, there’s evidence there scholarly support, that this will work, that this is impactful. And so one of the first questions that I think I asked in my training was, can I see the research on this? Because I knew there had to be research on it, because it was that good. And, and, and there was like, Oh, we don’t have any, I remember thinking, What do you mean, you don’t have any, you know, and they’re like, No, we just feel like perception surveys or evaluation. You know, like, did you like the lunch? Like, you’re not asking good questions, like, we need to address the question. So So yeah, so then, what, when we conduct this research, and as we conduct this research, and, and analyze the findings and create, create our conversation, that research based around the three day program, three day training, we will then be able to go to schools and say, This is what this does. Right? And the beauty of the outcomes of the training program, you know, the outcomes are aligned with more empathy, more compassion, deeper relationship connection, those, you’re creating a sense of belonging, creating community, you know, those are the outcomes that have been marketed since the inception of the training, right? That’s that’s the promise, as those outcomes have research of their own success, how they impact children, and how they impact children’s social emotional outcomes, and how they impact children’s. Even more important because again, this is this is the priority academic outcomes, huge academic outcomes when Children have a sense of belonging, when children are treated with empathy from the adults in the building. When teach our children have positive relationships with their teachers, the research shows that they are referred to special ed less, they are suspended less. They they have better peer relationships, when they’re teat when they have a positive relationship with teacher with not just in that current year, but five years after. So what those things are critical, and then let’s talk about your it mitigates truancy, it mitigates bullying, like come on, and the relationships are being built, regardless, because we’re humans and humans build relationships. So they’re either going to be negative, which does all of that opposite, meaning they get suspended quicker, they are referred to special ed quicker, they are more prone to bullying, they are more polling tips to absenteeism. Or it’s just nothing. Yeah, and which is, to me a lost opportunity. And, and with some of our students, we can’t lose that, that opportunity. So, so that’s the importance of the research is really building that credible narrative around the impacts, and around the outcomes, that when a teacher is trained in how it can influence the classroom. And and because there isn’t, again, a formalized process of this in the program for admins or teachers, this builds a gap, this training fills the gaps. And if districts did this, schools did this in a collective manner. The culture of their school would would really work to support all their other efforts that they’re putting up so much energy and because educators work so hard, and I want them to work smarter, and not harder. Like I know, that’s so cliche, but truly it’s working on the impactful and effective things that will turn the volume up on the academic and the pedagogical changes that they’re trying to make.
Speaker 4 21:56
I absolutely agree 100%. Not a big surprise, since you and I have been dreaming about this. And as you kind of work through the the power of the research up there at CMU. And it’s just, you know, I think about everything inside the class, and how in education, we are so good at siloing, every new initiative or program that comes out, and not finding ways to connect it and thread it. And as we talked about, like multi two tiered systems of support. That goal is to thread stuff, right and like to be able to combine things. And we think about the three day class and all the skills that you learn around communication and support. It threads so well through everything. And I don’t care if you’re focusing on restorative practices and cooperative learning and positive behavior intervention supports, how you can kind of use it in your specific content curriculum area of ELA, AR and history and world history and debates. And I mean, just all the stuff that’s out there, these skills are so powerful for teachers to have to adapt and use with the kiddos as well, too. And so that’s one of my favorite things that I’m so excited about going forward is the ability to thread in thread. Well, as we kind of go forward with this. Can you give us like some thoughts, Gina with how the research will also support that as we work with administrators to say, Hey, this is a good thing. And it’s not the newest silo that’s out there that you’re going to just dump and go to something else two or three years down the road.
Speaker 3 23:31
This to me isn’t a it’s not a reform initiative. It’s not a replacement. It’s not a curricular improvement. What this is, is a adult competency enhancement. You know, and it’s so so so when you when you equip and prepare your adults to be empathetic, relationship oriented, compassionate educators, any other training that you give them, flows through that. So it’s an enhancement, it’s like adding glitter to everything you do. It’s like it’s sparkly are shinier, it’s, you know, it’s actually sharpening the arrow. It’s more more impactful of everything you’re doing. Because, Pete, because your initiative that you’re in, you know, any reform initiative is only as good as a practitioner that’s implementing it. So if you invest in the competencies of your practitioners, and for this, we’re talking about interpersonal skills, communication skills, reflective listening skills, the ability to flex, right, the understanding of how to engage in confrontation, not just with their students, but with initiative and then amongst their colleagues, every one that’s competent, and and highly competent. Everything has the opportunity to be that much more successful. And too often, especially around SEL, right? Social emotional learning, you hear it, it’s buzzed about, it’s flying around our heads, like little like little bees right now. Because coming out of the pandemic, we realize, wow, humanity matters to people in matters. Let’s keep that going. That’s something we don’t want to disappear. Now, you know that the crisis seems to be, you know, disappearing, let’s keep that let’s keep that connection with mobile, keep that mobilization until often, we purchase an SEL curriculum. And the teachers are then to teaching in the classroom to the students, because the students are the vessels. And yes, that’s true. But if the teachers aren’t modeling it, if the teachers aren’t living it, if the teachers aren’t practitioners of it themselves, then it’s just vocab. It’s just memorization. It never gets applied, the students behavior really never changes, because the teacher isn’t available. You know? So if you know SEL component is about self regulation, right? If, if, if we’re trying to teach students how to self regulate, and maybe we’re using mindfulness, or maybe we’re using breathing techniques, or maybe we’re using, you know, glitter jars, or whatever, so many different things to self regulate. But the teacher is slamming books down and screaming at kids to get out. Where’s the bigger lesson? Is it Monday mindfulness, or is it that teacher that screams at the kids every day, get out? There’s got to be coherency, between the adult behaviors in the curriculum, especially around social emotional curriculum, and cultures that we’re trying to build. And this is that curriculum, because it is so multifaceted. And that’s what the research will help will hopefully flesh out within the research is that it builds that adult competency. And that’s a competency, but confidence, because for adults to have confidence to teach learners that have, you know, that teach learners that come from different lived experience in them, that’s important. And too often, we under training our teachers on that important value of being able to be competent and efficacious, and how they interact and build relationships with students that maybe they don’t know or understand their lived experience that they’re bringing to the classroom, they may have never even conceptualized it. And so when we don’t train teachers for that, we’re really setting them up for failure, and they’re getting a bad rap about it. And we need to start to start training them better to build their confidence.
Speaker 4 27:25
Yeah, and you know, when we don’t train them better in that self efficacy and how to build up their communication skills from to support them and see how the connection with kids is, you look at oftentimes educators or special our new teacher groups as failures, because they can’t quote unquote, control the classroom exactly, like more classroom management, and all those skills are important. But if we don’t build connection and relationship, you’re really going to start putting in stricter rules and regulations. So the kids sit, still be quiet learns, but really learning goes down and those things as well to another point I want to kind of talk about is you mentioned, the power of the educators learning these skills, and then role modeling it with the kids and supporting the kids through those social emotional learning curriculums that they have, and how important that is. But also talk about what research tells us if we just put social emotional learning curriculum in front of kids. And the teachers do just what you say they haven’t received a train, so they just get out. Because the research actually says that’s even worse for the kiddos that not even providing anything, right?
Speaker 3 28:31
It is worse because it comes because it actually diminishes the credibility of the teacher in the classroom. And it diminishes the, the the curriculums, like benefit. So so the students, and the students blame themselves too. Like it’s it’s really toxic cycle, because you have these great curriculums that work. And it’s good content, but because they’re not because it’s not matched correctly, the student is like, well, this is this is not right, this is not the way to live, right? Or they blame themselves like, Oh, I’m doing something wrong, this is a me issue. So they internalize it. And then they also don’t like be if the teacher isn’t living in alignment with the curriculum, they have no credibility for the students in the classroom, and actually creates more and without a teacher having credibility of expertise, and leader and facilitator and trusted guide in the classroom. Well, that’s, that’s, that’s a recipe for a long year. That is a long way year where every minute minute is felt. And and, and yeah, so that’s, that’s really important. And the research is clear on that. But if you don’t have the culture, and the adult competence, competencies to support, you know, social emotional learning in students don’t bring in a curriculum, because then it causes it does cause more harm.
Speaker 4 29:58
Yeah, it makes sense when Do you really think about, especially when we talk about kiddos, because developmentally, they’re not at the developmental stage of adults, even at the high school level, right? I mean, we know, females on average, and what is average, really, you know, 2122 years old, and then males 2526 years old. And so when you talk about seven year olds, who are given a worksheet on empathy, but we’re not working on empathy as a group, there’s a total disconnect. And that disconnect can create way more harm than it is to support and kind of help kids out as well to
Speaker 3 30:33
well, and a lot of things, too, if you don’t do a formalized training on some of those concepts, then we bring in preconceived notions that may be 100%. Wrong, I did a training on empathy. And I had an educator stand up and say, Well, I will No, I will not lower expectations. And I’m like, I understand how we got here. Like, we’re talking about empathy, how do you think that’s lowering expectations, and they’re like, well, in order to be empathetic, I can’t hold them accountable. That is a misperception. And so if you don’t have those, those conversations within your adult groups around the social emotional concepts and constructs, that’s the disconnect, and that then leads to the harm. Because then you don’t have you know, a teacher who views empathy in a negative way, in a way that wouldn’t allow them to do their job. And, and that’s a, that’s a misunderstanding from them about what empathy actually looks like in a classroom.
Speaker 4 31:26
Yeah, we have a lot of work to do, right. Good work, though.
Speaker 3 31:29
And it’s good work and why I love it, and why I live here for all of my research, not just this research, and why it has been a part of my practitioner ship since I was a classroom teacher is because it matters. And in you know, Wesley, this boy named Wesley was my catalyst. In this work. It was when I was working as a as a assistant principal. So I’ll how I did was discipline. And Wesley got that out of that first block every day, quick, five minutes, and Wesley was out of there, he was sent out. And I kept, I was like, What are you doing? Like, what can you do in five minutes to get kind of across like, I please explain this to me. And, you know, and, and one day, he was sitting in my office, and the work had been sent down for him, so he wouldn’t miss his assignment. And, you know, I handed it to him. And I see here, buddy, you know, let’s get working on this assignment. And he said, I’m not doing that work. And I said, Oh, do you need some help? You know, I can get some lessons. And he’s like, No, I don’t do her work. And I said, What do you mean? And he was like, because like, I might get somebody else’s name on the paper, like, well, I know who he is. And he’s like, No, missus, you know, so and so Mrs. Smith. I don’t do her work. I don’t work for her. And, and then that, that was like, the ownership of a teacher in their classroom, their assignments there, the Student Success is literally live within a teacher. Some some of our students can’t disconnect, engagement of learning with the teacher who’s giving them the information. So when there’s but yeah, I looked at his second hour class, because he never got sent out to me for the rest of the day. I didn’t feel he had, he was performing well, he was doing great. You know. And so I asked him, What’s the difference? And he was like, Well, I liked him. I liked him. He’s cool. She’s funny, you know, he went into what he liked about them. And it was then it was so apparent to me that if we don’t attend intentionally to relationship, we will we are we are losing kids, for no good reason. Because for no good reason. And it’s creating chaos, like when you don’t relationship building insulates teacher from burnout, it insulates the teacher from, from negative perceptions about their job, they call in less when they have relationships with their students. It’s just a win win situation. When we build tools and capacity and common language around relationship building and social emotional competencies for adults. It just, it just allows everybody to flourish within that school community.
Speaker 4 34:06
Yeah, for sure. Adam, what do you think? I mean, you’re married to a special educator. She’s an amazing teacher. And you got you got little ones that are knocking on the door of education and getting ready to come through and you’re very much involved in all of our skill set. How do you feel about like all this ideas and thoughts that Gina and I just kind of have our brains throw up to the world and give all of our insight and excitement? When we kind of get together? I think Gina and I could talk for hours on end, but what are your thoughts? It’s kind of going forward with everything.
Adam Salgat 34:39
I’ve been making a few notes, because there’s a lot of statements in here that you know, really connect with things I know my wife is going through. There’s a lot of things that I connect with, you know, just in general, like the idea of First of all, I want to say I appreciate someone like yourself, Gina and Mike, who are ready and willing to do this research to help get this type of information in front of people who need to see the research in order to move forward with it. And I say that because I’m very much of a field person, I’m very much of a, this is, this is what I’ve seen it do. This is the stories I’ve heard. And that sounds good to me kind of thing. But I know there are so many different type of, you know, personalities and behaviors out there that need to see concrete type data. So for you to, to recognize that and also for you to, you know, say, Hey, what is your research and not really, you know, get that back and say, Well, I want to help get that research, I want to help get that data so we can move forward into the school system. So that’s one thing that I want to say I very much appreciate your work in that space, because I think it’s vital. And then next, there’s an element here, that I was thinking about it as you were talking about implementing this, but I think you guys kind of touched on it. But to me, I was like teachers, my wife struggles with having the mental capacity to handle everything, she already has to handle the expectations of meeting test scores, you know, just all of it as a special education teacher keeping her IEPs. And, and, you know, new kid studies, you know, multiple kids that are being, you know, potentially, you know, moved into special education each year, and just having to go through all of that data research and everything. So, one of the questions I was going to ask, but I, like I said, I think you kind of touched on it was how, like, how do you expect them to implement this and take it into everything else they’re already doing? And like you said, this is, since it weaves through so many different elements, even though yes, it is a new thing to learn in a way, it just adds the glitter, right or sharpens the arrow. So I if there’s anything you want to expand on the next space, because I just think about, like how busy teachers are, and to say them. Alright, well, here’s another element for you to think about. You know what I mean? But is there anything else you’d like to add in that space?
Speaker 3 37:07
For me, I think teachers, because we’re all humans, in the schools, there’s not a different species of individual in there. We’re all human. And humans are relational beings. And because we haven’t welcomed relationships, or encourage relationships, in the school building, we’ve actually trained teachers how to not be relational, more so than anything else, I actually think they’re working harder at not being relational, than if they just allowed themselves to naturally build the relationships. Teachers want to, I mean, again, they’re humans, they care about their kids, but yet, they have to shield how they how they show they care, right? They have, you know, so they show there, and what I see right now, what teachers are doing, how teachers show their care, cuz they’re still showing your care, they’re just not showing it in a in a typical human way. They literally work from 6am to 6pm, when a teacher shows up at 6am, and there’s many that show up into their classroom at 6am. That Care, Right? When a teacher is giving is grading paper with extensive feedback in the side margin, that care, right. And so teachers are caring, but it’s not an unnatural way. And I think that if we gave them permission, as well as skills, to care in a way that’s so natural to them, and they already care about these kids, we don’t have to convince them to care about these kids, we just have to give them permission to start building relationships, and take time to laugh with them. And take time, still have fun with them. And take time to build a community and take a break and everybody get up and be silly. And I can tell you as an as it I gave myself permission to do that. And we talked about how to do it safely. We talked about how to give five hugs. We talked about systems, we talked about high fives. We talked about micro moments that build those connections, like being in the hallway greeting all of them, you know, and they want to do that they miss telling them I missed you last night. Hey, how did that concert go? You know, but collectively brainstorming those techniques. And sharing that effort actually energizes them, I can and there was nothing more. That made me like I could have gotten home every day when I had these moments, when I would be walking through the hallway doing my principal perimeter check and making sure everybody was tucked into their classes. And I would hear a class got laughing. And my teacher was laughing with them. And I was because I knew that if they could take a moment to collectively laugh, that they were connected. And it could have been about content. It could have been about a a comment you don’t think the teacher said or a mistake that the teacher made where there was that kind of comfort to laugh at the mundane moment of a classroom setting. Then there was natural relationship building And then it is to me, it’s, it’s more work for them not to build a relationship to hold themselves back to keep themselves guarded than it is for them to just naturally be who they are those caring, hard working, smart girl individuals that really no teachers are. And they, we, we too often and too long have asked them not to bring their whole selves to the schoolhouse. And we just need and this is a formal way to allow them to do that.
Adam Salgat 40:34
I think it’s an interesting balance, by the way, because my wife is very much a empathetic, human. And it’s also very heavy, sometimes I think, what she has to when she comes next with these kids who have such hardships, or have, you know, at the age of seven been through such difficult things in their life, and they’re seven years old, and you’re like, I’m almost 40 And I haven’t touched any of what you have had to go through in your short seven years of life. So that could be honestly a completely nother podcast topic is like mental, the mental balance or the mental health of teachers and keeping it balanced and, and knowing how much to bring to yourself, and then also how to disconnect a little bit, because you need to be able to leave that at work sometimes. But you also need to have yourself be at work, like you just talked about, you know, when you connect with the kids and, and back to that connection, your story about wisely, it reminded me of the concept that people I hear often, especially in the field I’m in, people do business with people they like, you know, so if you’ve got two people who do similar work, similar quality work, and you just connect with one of them better than you do the other for whatever reason, it might be similar interests and might be, you know, just you think they’re funny, or you like their smile or whatever it might be you like their communication style. You do business with people you like, Well, it sounds like Wesley was going through that a little bit with his teacher and, and then I went back to the teacher’s point of view and thought, how hard is it to, to connect with 30 kids or 30 Plus kids, when they’re all so different? So how do you become that chameleon? And how much stress does that take sometimes to do that?
Speaker 3 42:28
Well, and I think it’s partly because for me, like, as a principal, I couldn’t have necessarily individual relationship, although I did try to know everything about my students. And I definitely tried to know their names. And I tried to and I said their names every day. Like they’ve happened probably like, Hey, Joey, Hey, Sarah, hey, America, and they knew that they want to, you know, they would ask me, Why are you saying my name is because I want to know, I want you to know that I see you. And that you’re here. That very brief moment was like, she cares if I know that she feeds me. I didn’t that that is a micro moment. Again. And most of the kids, they don’t need that much. There are those situations where, who, right, you’re in the weeds on it. And it’s, it’s heartbreaking, and you go to sleep at night. And like for me, yes, your husband is you can bring some home. And again, that all educators have had that experience, like I need to bring this kid home, that is the only way you know that I can see their future with you know, to match their potential. But it is it’s, it’s, it’s bringing you and, and having and being consistent. Which is why the tools of this training are so important because they allow us to be consistent in our approaches to relationship building. And I would tell the, my staff that I work with, I get to be attend every day, because that’s what I have the energy to bring. And that’s what my home life allows me to deal with the support that I have. But that may not be your number. Maybe your number is a five, maybe you can only bring a five every day. But bring it do that five, like you own five to five every day. Because honestly, the consistency of the cells that you bring, again, especially using these tools, is what makes kids feel safe and trust you. And if without safety and trust, there is no relationship there is no credibility. There’s difficulty in learning. So So yeah, so it’s malleable for each of the teachers but it but unfortunately, in most small houses, the conversation about that, but what am I capable of bringing this year never happens. So they don’t teachers don’t even get to be self reflective and self aware around around the relationship building concept. Right? And so if we did these trainings, and if we had a common vocabulary about it, you know, then if you have a disconnect, you can say to your peers to say hey did He try, you know, reflective listening, have you tried this, I tried reflective listening with that student and it was very, you know, it was very helpful. But when you don’t have that common vocabulary of a tool, it’s very difficult to problem solve with your colleagues to be able to get the same impact. So that’s the other powerful piece of this training is collectively School of endeavor that is that we create that the common practice the common skill set, and the common vocabulary for them teachers to support each other in the in the intentional relationship and empathy building and flexing, that they would all be engaged in.
Adam Salgat 45:34
Sounds awesome. And like, I want to reiterate one more time very appreciative of someone like yourself doing the research to try to bring this in, and to bring some factual based numbers to, to those that need to see it that need to feel it that way. And again, thank you. Mike, is there anything you’d like to touch on before we wrap up our conversation today?
Speaker 4 45:56
Oh, wow, Adam, you just opened up Pandora’s box, because Jean and I could talk forever, about education and connection and kids and how we can support people and focus, really just want to say thank you, Adam, for this podcast, it’s been great. Gina, just, you know, air hugs, big support. I’m a huge fan. I’m excited about the research going forward. I’m excited to be able to be your coach, and we’re gonna get you credentialed. Now that everything is lifting, and just seeing the possibilities of what we can do together as we just go forward and just start, you know, collecting those acorns is what I say and just getting the pot bigger and bigger and bigger and better. And just focusing on supporting folks.
Speaker 3 46:44
Yeah, and I and I’m thrilled to be here. Again, I could talk about this for hours. This is my passion work. It was a passion for me when I was a practitioner and it’s a passion for me as a Marine researcher and a professor and a scholar now I’m just so grateful and humbled to be able to bring this to surface add credibility to have already fantastic incredible program and training and organization. And anything that that we can do to just close that debate divisive gap that we’re living in right now reconnect each other to each other, you know, create some really good human beings skills and each other so that we can we can do what you know, what is natural to us, which is connecting the two together. I’m only I’m only for that I work all day I could work whether it’s in schools or whether it’s on the streets like I’m in
Speaker 4 47:41
our placards, right. Love it. Love it. Well, thank
Adam Salgat 47:45
you both so much for being part of the podcast today. Thank you, Adam.