Supporting positive student behaviors in and outside of the classroom is a central focus of our school. Facilitating behavior change and fostering positive choice making is the primary goal of any behavioral intervention at Cyd Lash. When students engage in negative behaviors, it is the staff’s role to collaboratively determine what individualized interventions provide the greatest opportunities for positive change. While these interventions may include traditional disciplinary measures, Cyd Lash staff primarily facilitate relationship building, engage students in problem-solving activities, and encourage self-advocacy to increase functional and socially appropriate behaviors at school.
Circle of Courage
The Circle of Courage is a system of beliefs and practices that govern staff interactions with students. This belief system focuses on meeting the needs of students in four central areas of life: Belonging, Mastery, Independence, and Generosity. We believe that by meeting needs in this areas students will experience greater success in life and have a better connection with the world around them. In practice, the Circle of Courage helps ensure that staff respond to student issues in a clear yet compassionate way that focuses on problem solving and student-teacher collaboration rather than solely on punitive consequences. By stressing the tenets of Circle of Courage, students learn how to work in tandem with staff to resolve problems, grow academically and emotionally, and to self-advocate in an appropriate and productive way. To support this, Character education is integrated into every part of the academic curriculum at Cyd Lash Academy. In addition, students participate in character education through individual, group, and school wide activities facilitated by social workers, teachers, and an art therapist. Students are recognized and rewarded both individually and collaboratively for positive behavior.
Life Space Crisis Intervention
Beginning in the 2014-15 school year, Cyd Lash staff will implement the Life Space Crisis Intervention (LSCI) approach to working with students in who are not able to maintain appropriate behaviors in class. These students may be experiencing a crisis, or they may need additional support to remain on task and conduct themselves appropriately in the classroom. LSCI is an approach that helps students reduce self-defeating patterns of thinking and behavior. When a staff member uses LSCI, they take students through a series of steps that allows them to first vent their frustration and verbalize their interpretation of the problem. Using active listening skills, staff will help students identify the central issue that is causing the problem, and to gain insight into when and why they respond this way. Staff then help students develop new skills that will allow them to manage their feelings more productively, and to generalize these skills across all settings. While Cyd Lash staff have already been using similar techniques, LSCI provides staff with a clear framework to follow that is consistent with our school's therapeutic, problem-solving approach to behavior management.
The local team is the central entity where individualized instructional and social/emotional interventions are developed for students through the lens of the Circle of Courage. Local teams consist of two classroom teachers, elective teachers, two paraprofessionals, a social worker, a vocational facilitator, an office intervention staff member, and an assistant principal. Students take their academic classes within the local team’s two classrooms throughout the day. Local teams meet each week to discuss student issues and to problem solve in the areas of academic performance, behavior, and social/emotional functioning. The local teams' in-depth knowledge of their students allows them to respond to issues in ways that are both individualized to student needs and consistent with Cyd Lash policies and procedures.
At Cyd Lash, students are expected to remain in the classroom throughout the day. At times, students require additional support outside of the classroom to resolve problems. Office Intervention, led by a social worker, a certified staff member, and a paraprofessional, is a service intended to help students problem solve if their behavior in the classroom significantly disrupts the learning environment, or if they are having difficulty coping with the stresses of the day. Office Intervention staff work collaboratively with teachers and social workers to process incidents with students and return them to class when the team determines that they're ready. Office Intervention also works closely with the local teams to develop and implement treatment plans for students throughout the building.
Building Bridges - An Alternative to Suspension
Our goal for Cyd Lash students is for them attend school every day and to learn from the choices they make. While Cyd Lash does suspend students out of school for some offenses, research indicates that students who participate in programs within the school are less likely to reoffend in the future. When behavioral infractions are serious enough and cannot be resolved in the classroom or in Office Intervention alone, students may be eligible to participate in our Building Bridges program, which is our alternative to out of school suspension. The Building Bridges program is based on the principles of restorative justice and cognitive behavioral principles. Students who participate in the program will learn to take responsibility for their behavior and choices, and have the opportunity to practice more pro-social skills. In addition to “making things right” with students or staff that they have negatively impacted, the students in the Bridges Program are taught skills and strategies they can use to make better decisions in the future. All of this is done with teaching and coaching by trained staff. Students start their day in Bridges by completing a “thinking sheet.” The thinking sheets looks at the behavior that resulted in Bridges; how the student felt about what happened, how the student thought others involved felt, how others were affected, and what would make things better in the future. Once they have completed the “thinking sheet” and processed with a staff, the student will mediate with the offended party if it is warranted. Any incident that involves another person could result in a mediation. The students are given some control to determine when during their time in Bridges they want to mediate. Also during their time in Bridges they would complete scenarios and worksheets that are specific to their situation. After all of the worksheets and scenarios have been completed and reviewed the student can use the remaining time to do school work so they do not fall behind in their classes.
During the 2014-15 school year, Cyd Lash Academy will house a multisensory room to help students self-regulate their emotional responses to challenging situations. Research has shown that students can improve their own behavior when they are taught to self-regulate. There will be equipment in the multisensory room, such as special lighting, furniture, and tactile objects, that is designed to create a stimulating yet calm atmosphere for students. It gives students a place to practice coping strategies before a crisis occurs when students are feeling angry, anxious, or frustrated. Students in the multisensory room will be monitored at all times and their use of the room will be overseen by the local team.
Art therapy provides opportunities for students to use images to express themselves when thoughts and feelings are difficult to put into words. Self-expressive art activities under the guidance of an art therapist helps students to gain meaningful insights about who they are and who they wish to become. Art making exercises one’s ability to control, understand, and have ownership over one’s emotions. Through practice and skill building students learn about problem solving, frustration tolerance, and build self-esteem. Art therapy is offered for individuals, small groups and for full classes.