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This course will guide teachers and administrators toward understanding their school’s discipline policies and to better understand and manage disruptive and violent behaviors. It is designed to help create and maintain safe and orderly environments. Participants will identify the practical and legal definitions of force as well as their rights and responsibilities, particularly regarding the use of physical restraint. They will also learn to correctly describe and document incidents and explore strategies and techniques that are preventative. This course is an essential tool for all school personnel.
Remember, your assessment of the situation becomes the key factor in determining if alternatives to the use of force exist. Are you viewing the situation as a threat because you are already highly stressed and “can’t take anymore”? Or are you calm and sure of yourself so you can think clearly and logically?
Again, you are relying on your own assessments, judgments, and reactions to a situation. Knowing if your assessments are objective requires a self-knowledge that you may or may not have discovered in your life.
Do you know yourself and your own trigger buttons when it comes to stress and conflict? What makes you angry? What makes you want to punch somebody? When does your ego get involved and lead you to a choice that may not be the best one?
Or, conversely, do you avoid stress and conflict? Do you run for help when a more direct and immediate response would benefit the situation?
Either response can cause problems in an educational setting. Obviously, being too quick to react in anger can lead to trouble when you are in a supervisory role of any sort. The administration of your school may be put in the position of having to defend your reactions to a complaining parent. On the other hand, running from conflict may mean that you are asking the administration to intervene on your behalf too frequently. You may gain a reputation in your school that results in less and less willingness on the part of the administration to respond when you ask for help (the “crying wolf” syndrome) so that, when you really need them, they will not be there.
It is important to think about your assessments, judgments, and reactions in stressful situations. We encourage you to pursue this self-knowledge in whatever way you can.
Taking personality tests can assist you in discovering this information about yourself, and you might start by exploring them through the Internet. A GoogleTM search such as “personality tests for stress” or something similar will reveal many free sites where you can discover more. For example, for $0.99 you may access the Myers Briggs Type Indicator test at http://haleonline.com/psychtest/.
Sit quietly for 10 – 15 minutes with your workbook and think about encounters involving conflict from your past, especially those involving situations when you were in a supervisory capacity, when you were “in charge” of someone else. Concentrate on two or three incidents that upset you the most. List those incidents in your workbook and concentrate of them one at a time. Make notes about what led up to the incidents and how you were feeling at the time. Attempting to be as non-judgmental and evaluative as possible, recall your reactions making note of what triggered them and whether they, in retrospect, were appropriate.
This exercise is designed to give you an opportunity to examine your personal reactions to stress in situations similar to those encountered by teachers and other school personnel. Take this opportunity to be as honest as possible so that you will learn something about yourself. As a start, think about the following phrases and determine if they describe you. Then reflect on memories and emotions that come up for you, noting what triggers them, how you react, and whether you are satisfied with how you react. If you are not satisfied, reflect on what you might do to change things.
When I am supposed to be “in charge”…
- I expect others to follow my directions without question.
- I become angry when others don’t listen.
- When I am angry, I react quickly without thinking.
- When I am angry, I want to get away from the situation.
- When others don’t listen, I get louder and/or get closer to the individual to make them start listening.
- When others are making jokes or being sarcastic, I often take it personally and get offended.
- Foul language offends me, and I react when I’m offended.
- My voice is loud and others often think I’m angry when I’m not.
- I don’t smile often so others think I’m mad.