Student Management: De-escalation and Conflict Resolution

Providing a Positive Environment on
the Bus: Using Verbal De-escalation
and Interventions
2013 FAPT Symposium
Jill Mead
Kristy Johnson
Meet and Greet
Jill Mead
Operations Manager
Charlotte County Public Schools
Kristy Johnson
Staffing Specialist with ESE Dept
District Co-Coordinator
Charlotte County Public Schools
Some topics we will be looking
Why do some of our student’s act out?
How can we prevent this acting out?
What do we do when we can’t prevent
Before we start, we need to know a few
Behavioral Basics.
Behavioral Basics
Behavior is anything we say
or do.
Each behavior is an attempt to communicate
Behaviors are learned and they all serve a
purpose. That’s why we keep doing them!
If you want a behavior to occur again, pay
attention to it.
Behavioral ABCs
A- Antecedent (right before)
B- Behavior
C-Consequence (right after)
We change a behavior by changing the
antecedents and consequences.
Why ???
First question to look at when we discuss
Why + New behavior= Intervention
Some reasons for acting out:
* Past trauma
* Learned behavior
* Sensory issues
Looking at kids differently
1 out of 4 students in school has been a victim
of some type of trauma
Trauma may be defined as real or perceived
event/threat, or series of events.
Individuals ability to cope may be severely
Trauma Informed Care
Some kids are able to develop coping skills to
help, so you may not even know about the
Others cannot, and if the right trigger is
presented, the effects of the trauma can be
seen easily
“We need to presume the clients we serve
have a history of traumatic stress and exercise
universal precautions by creating systems of
care that are Trauma-Informed.”
(Hodas, 2005)
Looking at kids differently….How
can we provide trauma informed
Structured, safe environment
Predictable environments, with
consistent routines that are taught
Firm consistent limits for inappropriate
Other reasons why…
Behavioral problems may be related to
trauma triggers.
Behaviors are learned and are a form of
communication. Acting out can serve a
purpose and/or tell us something.
Environment may be “one size fits all”.
Sensory issues
An Ounce of Prevention
Positive Behavioral Interventions and
Supports (PBIS)
A method of changing behavior for all students,
based on data
Encompasses all areas of the school, and all
parts of the school day, including the bus
Has a school or department based team that
oversees the program
What it does for the school wide environment:
* Provides clear expectations for
* Provides consistent consequences
* Ensures rules are explicitly taught
* Teaches students the “right way”
(replacement behavior)
* Recognizes and reinforces good
* Facilitates relationship building
PBIS in Florida
PBIS is in:
54/67 school districts
81% of districts
For a total of 1421 schools.
7 pre-k schools
784 elementary schools
275 middle schools
184 high schools
87 alt/center schools
84 other (ex- K-8)
Traditional Discipline versus PBIS
Traditional Discipline:
*Goal is to stop
undesirable behavior
through the use of
*Focuses on the
student’s problem
*Waits until there is
a behavioral fire
Positive Behavioral Support:
*Goal is to stop undesirable
Replacing with a new behavior
or skill
Rewarding appropriate behavior
*Focus is on teaching skills
*Uses proactive/ preventative
steps to prevent inappropriate
PBIS on the bus- how does it fit in?
*Bus ride is the beginning of the school day
Same PBIS principles apply (proactive, positive
Know the school wide expectations for your
*Have bus rules that fit in with expectations
*Have rewards that are in line with school wide
*Ask to be a part of the PBIS team. Each school
has one
Use a little “TLC”
Proactive behavior strategies on the bus to avoid a
Teach rules
Look for the Good
Consistent Consequences
Teach Rules
No more than 3-5 rules
Make sure they are related to
Teach them (daily for the first week,
weekly for the first month, monthly or as
needed rest of year)
Have them posted
Keep them positively stated
Elem. sample
Loading and
When the bus is
Stay in your seat
Help each other to get on
and off
Make sure bus driver can
see you
Give book bag to aid
Stay seated
Talk in a low voice
Keep hands to your self
Talk in a low voice
Be nice to others
Keep hands and feet to self
Be on time
Talk in a low voice
Keep bumper on seat
Keep hands and feet to self
Be visible
Be on time
Look both ways
Watch the driver
Keep your seat
Use inside voice
Raise hand for help
Keep seat belt fastened
Face forward
Look for the Good
Focus on the student’s strengths
Avoid general praise (such as “great
Be specific
Use positive feedback to reinforce
expected behavior
• For example:
Jason, I noticed that you talked quietly to Joe
today. Thanks!
How to Recognize/Reward
Appropriate Behavior
Rewards are effective when they are:
- Used to build new skills or sustain
desired skills
- Used with contingent delivery of
rewards for specific behavior
- Gradually faded over time
- Name behavior and expectation
Reward/ Recognition system continued:
Immediate reward (ticket-token) acts as
teaching tool, focuses on desired behavior
Is a bridge to long-term reward
Increases likelihood of repeating desired
Reduces need to engage in disciplinary
Verbal praise can be just as effective as a
Reinforcer vs. a Bribe
Consistent Consequences
Happens right after the behavior
Not necessarily negative
High ratio of positives to negatives
Give Choices when possible
Have a clearly established tier of
Enforce them consistently
From the American Public Health
Association report on bullying on the bus…
Create consistent consequences for
Train drivers to de-escalate aggression
Have assigned seats
Praise and reward appropriate behavior
Get parents involved
Give daily reports of incidents
Set policy that promotes positive steps rather
than punishment
APHA cont…
Help troublemakers become peace
makers by giving them responsibility
Develop incentives for positive behavior
Bring drivers into classrooms to allow
students to relate to them in different
Keep a daily journal of what behavior
problems occurred, and what happened
right after.
Verbal De-escalation
“If you can keep your head when all about
Are losing theirs, and blaming it on you…. “
Rudyard Kipling
Verbal De-Escalation is an intervention
A tool that uses calming language, redirection, and other techniques. (Kerr &
Nelson, 2010).
Successful Verbal Intervention or
Goal is SAFETY!!
De-escalation interventions can happen
any time during the escalation stages
This is not the time to teach or problem
Requires flexibility
Be aware of what is happening within
De-Escalation: How to Use
Verbal Intervention
Set limits for student
Use non-verbal communication- students
in crisis may not be listening
Avoid Power struggles- student attempts
to distract you
Use Active Listening
Respond to true questions, ignore verbal
Establishing Clear Limits
Explain exactly which behavior is
inappropriate- Triage if more than one.
Be specific.
Give reasonable, not special, choices
and consequences.
Allow time
Enforce consequences
Use non-verbal communication
 80% -non verbal
 12%- voice inflection
 8%- spoken word
 Be award of threatening posture
 Use as few words as possible-be
Avoid the “2 miles up the hill in the snow”
General Guidelines for Verbal Intervention
Maintain a safe distance (5 - 6 feet) from individual.
Maintain intermittent eye contact.
Use clear voice tone.
Use voice volume lower than that of agitated
Use relaxed, well balanced posture with hands held
in front of self.
Copyright 2007 T.E.A.M. Interventions
Avoiding Power Struggles
Types of Power Struggles
Defending your authority or credibility
• Reacting to personal button pushing
• Issuing unrealistic consequences
• Getting Sidetracked
Give reasonable choices
A. You’re welcome to ___________ or
B. Feel free to ______________ or
C. Would you rather ______________ or
What would be best for you
_______________ or ___________?
Would you rather listen without interrupting or choose
another place to be right now?
You’re welcome to wear your coat or carry it with you.
Do you want to sit in the front row or the second row?
I see you want to argue; I argue at 12:00 or 4:45
which would you prefer?
Which would be best for you? Would you like to talk
in a six inch voice to your neighbor; or move up front
in the seat behind me?
Active Listening Guidelines
Concentrate- Give student your attention
Acknowledge-use body language and
facial expressions to let students know
you are listening
Respond-repeat back to students what
they have said, not what you think
Empathize- take students point of view
and feelings into account
More…ways to de-escalate
Do not be defensive even if comments or insults are
directed at you.
Be very respectful to agitated individual. Make it clear
that we believe they should be treated with dignity and
Respond selectively. Answer only informational questions
no matter how rudely asked, (e.g. “Why do I need to sit in
this *&%$ seat”?) Do not answer abusive questions (e.g.
“Why are all drivers jerks?” ) This sort of question should
get no response whatsoever.
Effective Verbal Intervention
Must Be:
-Name behavior that is not allowed in the setting.
-Objective and matter of fact (no emotion).
-As few words as needed to get point across.
-Give specific choices. (pre determined by staff.)
Ask, “Which do you choose?”
Key Points
Behavior Escalation does not occur in a
vacuum- interactions with adults,
environment, peers can increase or
decrease escalating behavior
Avoid being drawn into power struggles
Keep yourself and the student safe
Give Choices that you can enforce when
setting limits
Primary Goal is always safety
The End!!
Thank you! Any questions?

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