This year a student has been placed in my class who has in the past exhibited violent behaviour towards her classmates as well as the adults in the room. In order to prepare me for dealing with her, my principal sent me on a workshop yesterday to learn a way in which to deal with the child if she has a violent episode. The CPI training focuses on nonviolent crisis intervention and has, at its core, the safety of all the people in the room.
As a teacher what you want is to prevent the child’s behaviour from escalating. We were reminded of signs that we, as people who work with children daily, already know. She showed us an interesting video to remind us of the importance of non-verbal cues:
The instructor mentioned some techniques that can be used to calm a child down: holding a hand, a stroking, or even giving a hug. I could not help but notice the irony of this as when I was first hired with the board, we were told not to touch the children under any circumstances. I do prefer the message given yesterday as it acknowledges the healing power of touch and how we, as humans, crave the touch of others.
In the afternoon, we were introduced to ways in which to deflect the violence aimed at our bodies. We were also given permission to move away and remove ourselves from the situation that could harm ourselves. We were shown holds to contain a child if necessary – holds that are to be used as a last resort. We practiced them for a while. I do feel, however, that I need to practice it some more. And I hope I never have to use them!
I found it interesting to speak to the other participants at the workshop who are all special education teachers. Their job is to deal with a group of children every day who may display violence. They are accepting of this part of the job and seem adept at dealing with it. I could not help but think as I was speaking to some of them that the CPI training is what an ordinary classroom teacher like me needs as not all children who display violent tendencies have had their behaviour officially documented (especially in the younger grades).
Yesterday was an interesting day. I was reminded of things that I already new; and learned a few new things. Hopefully the CPI training will help me cope with a volatile child in my classroom.
What are your thoughts on non-verbal cues?
© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019