Crisis as an Opportunity


Learning Objectives

• Participants will appreciate the importance of self-awareness when dealing with a potentially crisis situation by completing the Self-Awareness Interview Guide. This will be the first performance objective submitted through the Personal TCIS Portfolio page.
• Participants will understand how their emotions can impact the outcome of a crisis situation, negatively and positively, by reflecting on their personal strengths and weaknesses through the Self-Awareness Interview Guide. This worksheet should be submitted through the Personal TCIS Portfolio page.

Self Awareness: Four Questions

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1) What am I feeling now?
2) What does this student feel, need or want?
3) How is the environment affecting the student?
4) How do I best respond?

Awareness is a key to being prepared for a crisis. Self-awareness has been defined by Cornell University () as, "an understanding of how our values, beliefs, perceptions, and thoughts influence our interactions with young people" (p. W21). The following factors influence the way in which educators relate to students: personal background, values and beliefs; experiences as a teacher; colleagues, district officials and school climate; teaching philosophy and beliefs about treatment for young people.

How do I best respond?

Manage the environment to neutralize potential triggers. Engage the student and provide emotional support Exercise self-control over own feelings

What am I feeling now?

A normal reaction to stress is to become angry; however, we must remember to control our emotions by becoming self-aware at the moment a potential crisis situation occurs. Anger can undermine our emotions. Typically asking yourself, "How am I feeling right now?" can help create a dialogue that can replace any negative thoughts with positive self-talk. Positive self-talk are short sentences that can be stated in multiple situations that create a positive outlook on a potential crisis. We must be awawre of how we feeling during the time of crisis in order to control our verbal and nonverbal communication skills. If we react to the outburst or escalated phases of stress in a negative manner due to anger, we are increasing the chance of stress and risk. Angry mentally impacts the brain. There's scientific proof that the angrier humans become, the less intelligent they become. It becomes difficult for us to think rationally or logically. We typically become narrow-minded or cynical. If this occurs during a situation with a child, it will produce the opposite effects and result in an increase of stress levels for the already triggered student. This will result in the continuation of negative coping skills.

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What does this student feel, need or want?

It's important for us educators to know the children we are serving. "Besides self-awareness, awareness of the student is important in therapeutic crisis intervention" (Holden & Holden, 2013, p. W22). The following are aspects a teacher should know about each individual in their classroom/s: the student's history, patterns of behavior, and characteristic ways of responding to stress, limits, and authority. Understanding childhood development is also crucial for understanding what are pain-based behaviors, which we will discuss in due time, and understanding the normal behaviors that occur during stages of childhood development.
In dealing with a potential crisis situation asking the question, "What does this student feel, need or want?" can lead us to the student's purpose for displaying aggression or for exhibiting in challenging behaviors (p. W23). The more information you collect on the children you're teaching, the more effective and efficient you will become at meeting the 2 goals of TCIS, which are, support environmentally and emotionally to reduce stress and risk and teach new coping skills.

Behavior Reflects Needs

As displayed in the figure to the right, "behavior is an expression of need or an attempt to meet a need" (p. W22).

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Since we know all behavior has a meaning, it is our job as professionals to determine the meaning behind the behavior; in other words, what does it represent? For example, someone who runs away frequently may be afraid of something. The need is our primary focus at all times during a crisis. Cornell University (2013) states, students who grow up in "stressful environments" may have learned to used extreme behavior to have their needs met, thus using enabling the negative coping skills for extended periods of time. "It is our responsibility to help students develop new coping skills and find ways to meet their needs that are successful and within their reach." (p. W23)

Common Pain-Based Behaviors:
• Impulsive outbursts
• Physical/verbal aggression
• Running away
• Self-injury
• Inability to regulate emotions
• Trauma re-enactment
• Defiance
Cornell University (2013) states, these are the most common behaviors children exhibit because it is expressing the emotional and psychological pain children experience when they run out of coping skills. Since traumatized children cannot identify nor respond to stress appropriately, once triggered, it's much more difficult to process and communicate true feelings and instead replace with pain-based behavior. It's difficult to sympathize with a student who acts to stress in these ways because we are typically scared or frightened. However, we must remember that trauma permanently alters the way a child's brain functions. The following research provided by Cornell University outlines the way in which it damages the brain: children "have lower IQ scores, higher incidence of mental retardation, are more likely to be identified as learning disabled, and earn lower academic scores" (p. W23).

Performance Objective

Directions: Complete the following worksheet by copying the formatted questions below into a Word document then answer. Submit your completed assignment through the TCIS Personal Portfolio page by copying the entire worksheet into the appropriate section in the portfolio.

Self-Awareness Interview Guide

Instructions: Ask yourself the following questions. After, submit your completed assignment to your TCIS Personal Portfolio in the correct space. I will then paraphrase in my own whats, what I heard you say to clarify for understanding. If you do not agree with my summary, ask me to correct the misunderstanding. *HINT* THIS WILL HAPPEN AT LEAST ONCE!

1. What are your strengths as a school staff person? What experiences have contributed to your strengths? What self-regulation skills do you use? What skill do you need to develop to improve your abilities to work with students?

2. Describe a time when understanding cultural or ethnic differences helped build a relationship with a student. What do you do to become aware of student's worldviews?

3. You do not have to share the following information with me, just be aware of it. If you want to discuss it that is fine also: What situations do you find difficult to deal with in your work? What behavior on the part of a student might trigger a stress response in you? Can you relate this to a past experience, value, belief, or lack of relevant life experience? If you want to share this, please do.

4. What do you get or hope to get from work that motivates, or will motivate you to stay in the job? What needs of yours are being met, or do you anticipate will be met, by the interactions with the students?

Module 2

Continue through the mini-course by entering Module 2: De-Escalating the Crisis