TOMBALL – Tomball ISD’s Connections Academy was recently recognized by TEA Restorative Discipline Practices as ‘Experienced’ on the RDP Fidelity Continuum Scale.
This scale provides a reliable and efficient measure of the extent to which school personnel are applying the key components of RDP: Circles, Restorative Chats/Language, Classroom Respect Agreements, and Affective Statements/I-Messages.
Of the 15 schools in Texas recognized by TEA for restorative practices, TCA is the only school to earn the Experienced implementation level.
The Texas definition of Restorative Discipline (by Marilyn Armour, Ph.D.) defines restorative discipline as a relational approach to building school climate and addressing student behavior. The approach fosters belonging over exclusion, social engagement over control, and meaningful accountability over punishment.
For more information on restorative discipline practices, visit: https://tea.texas.gov/texas-schools/health-safety-discipline/restorative-discipline-practices-in-texas
For information on TEA Restorative Practices at Home + resources for parents: https://tea.texas.gov/texas-schools/health-safety-discipline/restorative-practices-at-home-resources-for-parents
STUDENT RESPONSES ON RESTORATIVE PRACTICES
“I appreciate the TCA Circle experience because I think it's fun to connect with other people and share what you think about things. I like when we do the fun questions, but it's also very interesting to hear what people answer for the deeper questions. I've learned during Circle that I enjoy sharing my thoughts on things, but also explaining why and my thought process behind it. I've also learned in Circle that the TCA Staff truly care about the students and their success in life, which is something I probably wouldn't have guessed without ever coming here.”
“What I value is that it brings out a bigger image and a different, broader perspective of life and certain situations due to the multiple stories being shared. You can relate to them as well as learn from them. What I’ve learned about myself is that I’m actually able to be more open about myself without fearing harsh remarks and I am able to spread smart/thoughtful ideas.”
“What I appreciate the most about the Circle is all the positive words that go around. I learned everybody has something bad going on in their life - it’s just how they cope with it that matters. I learned that mistakes don't define you. I'm not looked at as a bad kid because of my mistake. I'm glad I'm respected like any other human."
“Circle time is a great experience. It allows you to have a connection to others that you otherwise would not have known you had. It allows the individual to understand how others feel and it also allows you to grasp the answer as to why some students make the decisions they make. It is a new experience and a good one.”
"I value that we all come together and share things about us and our lives we never thought we'd say out loud. I love how all my problems just disappear when I’m in the circle and how I know that everybody in the circle is there for me. I learned that a lot of people in the circle are very similar to me and that they’ve all been through the same thing. I can depend on them.”
PARENT RESPONSE ON RESTORATIVE PRACTICES
“Thank you for making the choice to build up your students, for pouring into them, and encouraging and believing in them. Our son was very anxious about his time here, but that only lasted a couple of days. He often talked about his conversations with each of you and Circle time. Don’t believe what you are doing each day isn’t important and life-changing. Thank you for treating our child as one of your own. Your efforts are touching lives and families. Our appreciation is immeasurable.”
STAFF RESPONSES ON RESTORATIVE PRACTICES
“TCA Circles provide students and staff an opportunity to share ideas, feelings, and experiences in a safe space. There are respect agreements that are unique to the Circle experience … and those agreements naturally blend over to the classroom. Circles provide a unique opportunity to listen to others as well as share experiences and feelings. Additionally, personal connections developed during Circle contribute to a positive classroom climate where learning, teaching, and personal connections all improve.”
“What I appreciate most about the Circle experience is how engaged and thoughtful the students and staff are. When we started this practice, I was a little apprehensive about leading a Circle because it was something so new and somewhat out of my comfort zone. It is now what I look forward to the most during the week. These students just want to be heard and respected. They will amaze you with their thoughtfulness and willingness to share when there is mutual respect among students and staff.”
Tomball Connections Academy staff started implementing restorative practices during the 2018-2019 school year with Janet Bohannon, Kimm Carter Montgomery, Alan Dill, Frank Harmeier, Jennifer McCready and Bob Thompson all facilitating weekly Circles for students in the Discipline Alternative Education Program (DAEP). Since then, TCA has expanded key elements of restorative practices to all three TCA programs. 2021-2022 marks TCA’s fourth year of restorative practices implementation with Jade Allen Quick, Carter Montgomery, Marcia deLeyer, Dill, Bob Frost, JuDee Hancock, Harmeier, Norma Lopez, McCready, Vera Patton, Kris Peyton, Deb Rigg, and Deb Steele leading the way.
For more information on this recognition: https://tea.texas.gov/texas-schools/health-safety-discipline/rdp-badges
ABOUT TOMBALL ISD
Tomball ISD educates students to become responsible, productive citizens by providing innovative, individually rigorous, and personally valuable educational experiences. Founded in 1908, Tomball ISD now encompasses 83 square miles in northwest Harris County and southwest Montgomery County, and is located approximately 30 miles from downtown Houston. The district currently educates over 19,600 students at 22 campuses.