A new approach to cutting suspensions by building communication with students is working, and teachers believe that the restorative practices program cuts disciplinary problems in class.

Soft Skills“If you could change anything about your parents, what would it be?” Sarah Hoffman asked her sixth grade social studies students. At first the responses were silly, but then serious.

“I wish my parents would stop fighting.”
“I wish my mom didn’t worry so much.”
“I wish my dad stopped drinking beer.”

At Gaston Middle School, this type of dialogue is an important part of the restorative practices program in the Dallas ISD. The district began the iniative last year at four middle schools and two elementary schools in an effort to prevent discipline problems by promoting relationships between students and teachers.

The program has been expanded to 21 schools this year, as the data indicates the program is working.

“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,” said Jay Sheets, the district’s restorative discipline coordinator.

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