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Intervening During the Escalation Cycle (page 3)

By — John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Updated on Jan 19, 2011

Aggression Cycle Reference Chart 1

Table 17.1 summarizes the stages of the escalation cycle.

Aggression Cycle Reference Chart

Aggression Cycle Reference Chart 2

Aggression Cycle Reference Chart

Key Points to Remember

  • Dangerous behavior almost never comes out of nowhere. There are usually signs unique to each student that he or she is escalating to an unsafe level.
  • Setting events and triggering antecedents that cause the student to become upset occur in stage 2.
  • Students usually exhibit early signs of agitation, anxiety, and other negative emotions during stage 3 before their behavior escalates to an unsafe level. A teacher who knows the student well enough can identify these signs and intervene before his or her behavior reaches a dangerous level.
  • Educators need to refrain from threatening consequences or trying to establish their authority when the student is agitated and escalating, as this will make the situation worse.
  • In stage 4, the student reaches the peak of their dangerous behavior. Safety of all parties is the only goal at his stage.
  • The recovery process begins in stage 5. It is important to reinforce and encourage calming strategies during this time to ensure the crisis has passed.
  • The student returns to a calm state in stage 6. It is crucial during this stage for the student to identify the behavior, connect the behavior to the consequences, and make a plan for positive, safe choices in the future.

Discussion Questions and Activities

  1. In stage 3 of the escalation cycle, the teacher needs to try to redirect or distract escalating students to prevent them from engaging in dangerous behavior. Brainstorm some ways to distract students. Remember to use humor and student interests. This is not a time to establish your authority. Be creative!
  2. Dustin is a student who has engaged in dangerous behavior in your classroom. He has returned to a calm state in stage 6 but is having difficulty owning his behavior, stalling the problem-solving process. Since you know this is a crucial step to working through the crisis, what should your next steps be?
  3. Brittany, a student in your class, escalated to a level where she hit a paraprofessional in your class. You feel that using the red schedule intervention is appropriate to ensure she can be safe at school. The principal thinks that Brittany should be suspended, and other school staff and Brittany's parents think that she should be allowed to start fresh with no undesirable consequences. As the case manager, you now have to call a meeting with the parents and administration and explain why you have decided that Brittany will be on red schedule. Script that conversation.
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