5 Strategies for a Stronger School Year

September 2, 2017
Jane Butke
Colored pencils next to a stack of books.

As summer fades from view, students, teachers, and staff across the country are returning to school. And just in time, I had the good fortune of connecting with Jane Butke, M.A. E/BD, who started her career in special education in the Milwaukee Public School system in 1976. She’s since worked extensively in special education and alternative classrooms across the state of Wisconsin. She recently retired from her full-time role, but has continued to work as a homebound and credit recovery teacher. In addition to her tenure as a classroom teacher, Jane also served as a Master Level CPI Certified Instructor for nearly 30 years, facilitating over 1,000 hours of Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® training for staff throughout the educational system.

Jane is keenly aware of the unique challenges that staff, students, and paraprofessionals face in the special education setting, and affirms that CPI training can provide critical enhancements to a more successful, supportive classroom. Jane shared that she believes in “front loading” a classroom with as much up-front, supportive preparation as possible.

As the first in our set of posts together, Jane gives her top five tips for a successful classroom experience. These pointers require no special preparation or supplies—they’re about using a mindful implementation of your CPI training. They work for teachers, administrative staff, and paraprofessionals by enriching and unifying your staff mindset in a hectic school setting, and empowering you to take constructive action for the collective greater good.

Try posting these tips in your planner, or reviewing them before you start your day—Jane credits these philosophies as the foundation of a successful, decades-long teaching career.

Jane Butke’s Top 5 Back-To-School Tips:

1. The students will be anxious, so I will be as supportive as possible.

If age/grade level appropriate, we will engage in a good amount of role play. Examples might include, “What does raising your hand look like?” or “How might one ask to be included in a social activity?”

By modeling the desired behaviors and using positive reinforcement, we can set these positive outcomes as our goals from day one.

2. Should a child begin to resist, I’ll take a deep breath before reacting or responding. I’ll follow the recommendations outlined in the Verbal Escalation Continuum.

I will not let staff fear or anxiety get in the way of a positive outcome!

3. I will not forget to give a lot of positive support for a student’s re-engagement with the classroom after a crisis.

4. Should a child escalate beyond the Anxiety level, I won’t panic. I will have a plan already in place with my paraprofessional extraordinaire, and I will follow it.

5. I’ll remember to use every behavioral “hiccup” as a learning moment for students AND staff!

In our next post together, Jane will discuss her history as a Certified Instructor, her favorite elements of CPI training and how to integrate them into a classroom setting, and ways to create a supportive environment to empower student success.

In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, download our free resource included with this post! We break down key strategies for each layer of PBIS implementation, connect you with the top 10 PBIS Resources, and share an On-Demand presentation on integrating CPI training with PBIS to decrease problem behaviors among the individuals you serve.