De-escalation Strategies in the Classroom: One District’s Approach
As the largest school district in Maryland and the 17th largest school district in the country, Montgomery County Public Schools’ (MCPS) sheer size and diverse population (160,000+ students across 209 schools) created a need for consistent training to unify the district’s responses to student behavior. CPI Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® Training met their state requirements by offering testing for trainees and establishing de-escalation strategies in the classroom.
Below we’ll hear from MCPS Behavior Intervention Specialist Jodi Chesman on their journey with CPI, including the success they have achieved and their roadmap for implementing training across a large district.
Starting With a Common Goal of De-Escalating Behaviors
As with most school districts, the first step to implementing CPI training is to get buy-in from the top. Jodi attributes unifying decision makers with a common goal as the reason she was able to seek CPI training. This goal focused on three areas:
- How the training will be used
- Benefits to the district
- Professional development opportunities for staff
Jodi immediately trained 40 staff members before implementing it with Special Education teams and a 5-member crisis team located in every school. Today—more than 10 years later—the district continues to utilize our CPI training programs with 35 Certified Instructors across the district.
“(CPI training) is not a complicated formula. The things we’re doing are really digestible for staff.”
De-escalation Training That Evolves with You
While MCPS’ journey with CPI began with a need to prevent physical interventions, Jodi says they’ve seen the most growth in their ability to de-escalate situations before they even reach that physical point. That ability to shape the training programs and evolve them based on the district’s ever-changing needs are key contributors to the success of the training across all 209 schools.
“A big learning piece for us over the 10 years has been that the strategies we learn through CPI . . . to make a purposeful and planful effort to be able to respond in a way that will de-escalate students.”
Today’s learning environment finds students exhibiting trauma-induced behaviors more than ever before. Providing de-escalation strategies in the classroom, that empower teachers to implement verbal interventions, has helped to not only return students to a calmer state, but also provides teachers with fail-safe options to regulate their own emotions.