More and more schools are training teachers in Therapeutic Crisis Intervention for Schools (TCIS), a set of strategies that can help staff defuse situations when students are in crisis. But Brewster Central School District is taking it a step further and training bus drivers, monitors and mechanics as well.
“When we’re angry, afraid or stressed, we don’t have access to our best thinking,” Misha Thomas, a trainer Brewster partnered with through Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES, said in a recent training session. “It doesn’t make sense to push through academic goals if a student is dysregulated emotionally. TCIS is a first-things-first set of strategies. If we get students calm enough, they will be ready to learn.”
Amy Osooli, Brewster’s Assistant Director of Pupil Personnel Services for Secondary, said the ongoing training sessions aim to reduce risk and harm and to improve the coping skills of staff members.
“How we intervene during a crisis impacts the child, so we need to make sure we’re responding in therapeutic ways to best meet their needs,” Osooli said. “The philosophy of TCIS is to be proactive in prevention and de-escalation. It’s all about recognizing a student’s emotions and, when they’re going through a crisis, responding prior to them reaching a point where they may hurt themselves or others.”
By talking about potential scenarios, Osooli said, staff members can be better prepared to enter a crisis calmly, thinking about the strategies they have learned rather than responding with their own bias or emotions.
While TCIS training was designed for classrooms, Brewster Central School District finds it just as important to have transportation staff taught in these skills.
“Bus drivers and monitors are the first people greeting our students and they’re the last ones sending them off at the end of the day,” Osooli said. As a result, “the culture and the climate on the bus is incredibly important.”
TCIS teaches staff and teachers to be aware of their environment and how their actions affect others, Osooli continued. “It is all about self-awareness and empathy.”
By this spring, 113 district staff members will be fully trained, including 67 members of transportation staff.