LEWISBURG — Tri-County North staff recently participated in Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI) training to better learn how to manage difficult situations and disruptive behaviors.
A total of nine staff members participated in the training, including Elementary Principal Joe Finkbine and Middle School Principal Joe Hoelzle.
According to Hoelzle, it is required by the State of Ohio that schools receive training in crisis prevention. Other school districts in Preble County have received this training in the past and Tri-County North thought it would “improve [their] school culture” and benefit the teachers.
“As you get more and more kids with trauma, we felt it was the appropriate time for us to begin getting staff members trained,” he said.
This is the first year Tri-County North has had its staff CPI trained, but many members of the Tri-County North staff had previously received training on their own, according to Finkbine.
This two-day training was held on Oct. 9 and Oct. 10. Tri-County North trained its Intervention Specialists in the elementary, middle, and high school, as well as Principal Finkbine, Principal Hoelzle, and its special education director.
Hoelzle said, the most important thing he took from the training was the way to approach students who may be in a crisis situation, off-task, or non-compliant.
“The way you approach them may lead to the success or non-success of what you want them to do. If you can approach in a non-threatening way and show respect to that individual, they are much more likely to comply with your request. You do this through body language, tone, and speech — a lot of it is more non-verbal than verbal. The way you say something is just as important as what you say,” he said.
Finkbine added, “Students who have received some type of trauma, the way their brain functions in the fight-or-flight piece is a little different than what a typical student might do. The training is to help us approach a scenario and keep it from escalating where they would need to be restrained in any way. The idea of the training is to deescalate the situation, that being the utmost importance.”
“That way you can return the student to a classroom environment,” Hoelzle explained.
He added, there is a “continuum” of responses a staff member can have with a student if they are being defiant.
“The worst thing you can do is escalate the situation, where they might become violent,” he said. “You don’t be direct, look them in the eye, point, or infringe upon their space.”
For Finkbine, there have been situations where he’s dealt with students who have trauma from their home life or past and can be “triggered” or set off. Developing relationships with those students can be key to “deescalating” the situation.
“One of the things we’ve tackled at Tri-County North as part of our District Leadership Plan is, developing relationships with our students is critical for our staff. We try to get to know students, so when you have students who come into a situation where they are triggered, you are able to work around those to deescalate the situation for students. That is what our goal is: to get to know students. This training gives us tools to anticipate things escalating and remove barriers to help deescalate,” Finkbine said.
Hoelzle said, it is important that while “deescalating” a situation they also maintain safety of everyone involved.
“Our goal is to keep every student in the classroom safe, while also keeping that individual student safe. Sometimes we have to make a decision to move 20 kids out of the classroom, because it is not safe because that one student is in there, sometimes we have to move that one student out of that classroom. The goal is to keep everyone safe and the goal also, as instructional leaders, is to have as little disruption as possible, so that those 20 students can continue learning and we can get this individual student calmed down so they can continue learning as well,” he said.
“In any training or professional development you go to, it is to give you tools for you to be able to help deal with students. Anytime you can gain knowledge or tools, that is a benefit to administrators. It gives us more tools to go in the tool box and know good ways to handle things,” Finkbine said.
Tri-County North will be hosting another CPI Training later in the school year, where High School Principal Kristen Mills will be trained, in addition to other staff members.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH