RACINE — A team of 19 teachers, staff and aides at Southern Local recently completed Crisis Prevention Institute, a non-violent crisis restraint training.
The training focuses on “getting to know students” and “determining root causes for inappropriate behavior.” If teachers can figure out why a student is “acting out,” then managing the cause also helps manage the effect.
Southern staff completing the training were predominantly special education and Title I staff. Team members were Patty Cook, Meg Guinther, Tammy Beegle, Courtney Ginther, Amy Roush, Rachel Cornell, Carolee Richards, Stephanie Allen, Alan Crisp, Chris Stout, Marcia Weaver, Kevin Porter, Jody Norris, Lisa Schenkelberg, Autumn Lisle, Brittany Hill, Leslie Dunfee, Kim Grueser and Tricia Adams. The class was taught by former Southern teacher Megan Karr, now a presenter/consultant with the Athens-Meigs Education Service Center.
Techniques taught at the training are crucial for student safety and teacher safety. The non-violent Crisis Intervention training program includes physical interventions and personal safety techniques, which are designed to maximize the safety of everyone involved in a crisis situation.
The intent of training is for staff to learn a system of verbal and physical intervention techniques that can help them recognize and address escalating behavior at its earliest stages — before it can escalate further. Deescalating that situation may be all that is needed.
The CPI training at Southern was a two-day exercise in which participants were taught various techniques. Participants received a certificate of attendance and CPI certification card, while enabling trainees to form a school crisis team.
Positive behavior supports (PBS) co-exist with the CPI training. The PBS or PBIS segment asks staff to look at the root cause of behaviors and build positive relationships with students.
“Most likely, if a teacher develops a positive relationship with a student, the student will respond more positively towards the teacher,” said superintendent Tony Deem. “Building a relationship is not only important towards building academic success, but also in building self-discipline and our main goal of developing life-long skills for our students.
“We hope restraint is never necessary, but if it is then we have a core team to deal with this in the proper ways. Our intent is that our trained teachers train our other staff in order to avoid any restraint situations, then equip them with techniques needed to keep everyone involved safe. We have great kids here at Southern, so the need for the team may be minimized. But in the name of safety, we want to be properly prepared.”
A generation back, “The Paddle” was a behavioral management tool. Today, behavioral management begins with the premise that all behavior serves a purpose. All behavior is a form of communication that individuals are using to have their needs met. Unwanted behavior persists because it serves a purpose for the individual and it meets their needs.
“This kind of thinking has forced teachers to consider physical behavior differently,” said Southern Administrative Assistant Scott Wolfe. “Many times, the students who act-out are not mean; they are students who have needs that are not being met in the school environment. Many times, there is an underlying problem.”
CPI teaches that staff should consider the use of a physical intervention only as an emergency intervention to respond to an individual posing an immediate danger to himself or others. CPI also teaches that physical restraint should be used only as a last resort when all other attempts to calm escalating behavior have been tried and have failed. The non-violent Crisis Intervention program focuses not only on restraint training, but on ways to avoid the need to restrain.
Staff was taught to look for patterns in behavior and the importance to intervene early.
Through the training, the Southern staff is more aware of early interventions now and are better equipped to manage acting-out behaviors. When physical intervention is used, trained staff are required to complete the necessary documentation. The intervention must comply with both CPI standards and Southern Local school policy.
CPI training is a requirement for those staff who may deal with identified behavioral issues.