Keisha L. Davis
Birch Grove Elementary School for the Arts
Brooklyn Park, Minnesota
1) One of my best practices is the implementation of healing spaces and Restorative Practices. These practices help those directly involved as well as those who were affected by an incident. It neutralizes power and balances the space in order to resolve and heal one’s soul and the possible trauma that was caused. Restorative Circles have been life-changing in my practice at our school. Scholars and staff alike comment on its power and request this process when incidents arise. It has given voice to those that are not heard or who are usually heard differently due to race, position, or other. Restorative Practices has changed the trajectory of scholars and our behavior data.
2) Culturally Responsive Curriculum and Instruction are key to teaching all scholars. Introducing these terms and their meaning to teachers is essential in order to change how teachers understand the craft of teaching. These practices change the lives of scholars by considering the whole child, their community, needs, strengths, and purpose. These practices also allow scholar voice, choice, and beliefs to be incorporated and situated into their learning which extends outside of the classroom and into the larger community to create positive and generational change. Finally, this would not be possible without the works of Gloria Ladson-Billings who termed Culturally Relevant Pedagogy. She teaches that educators must yield academic success, help students develop positive ethnic and cultural identities while helping them achieve academically, and support the students’ ability to “recognize, understand, and critique current and social inequalities.” This would create true SEL skills.