This year, Dallas ISD is piloting a new program called Restorative Discipline in select elementary and middle schools. The program is designed to proactively address disciplinary and behavioral issues before they escalate.
“Restorative Discipline is a chance for the students to build a relationship with the teachers,” said Jay Sheets, the district’s Restorative Discipline coordinator. “And what we’re hoping is, if a student has a relationship with the teacher, a lot of the issues that come across as classroom management and classroom discipline can be solved with the teacher and student.”
The process includes students gathering in circles in their classrooms. Teachers ask questions, and then students – one at a time – have a chance to respond. The goal is to reduce the amount of time students must be disciplined outside the classroom, cutting into valuable instructional time.
Fewer disciplinary issues are happening on at least one of the campuses testing out the program.
“I attribute it to the fact that we are having more valuable discussions, and being more proactive about the behavior before,” said Jonathan Clifton, assistant principal at W.H. Gaston Middle School. “We were being reactive in the past.”
Even students have seen a difference.
“Being in the circle, it helps you talk about your problems and helps you make decisions that can help you with your problems,” said one eighth-grader at Boude Storey Middle School.