Staff Training on Crisis Procedures

Categories: Interventions

If you are in this field, there is no need for me to explain what a crisis is. You’ve been there. Hair pulling, scratching, thrown bookshelves, teacher tears – you get the idea. In my years of dealing with more crisis situations than I’d like to admit – I’ve learned that the key to successfully managing a crisis (is that even possible?) is getting your team on the same page. You cannot do it yourself. Repeat – you cannot do it yourself. You need your staff. And whether you have the world’s best staff or the world’s worst – you have got to ensure that your whole team is with you. Your paras are not mind readers.

During a crisis situation, it’s hard to sometimes even make sure you are breathing much less delegate your staff. That’s why prepping ahead a time is so critical. Before a crisis occurs – tell your staff what you want them to do, where you want them to go, and how you want them to act.

Some Key Points for Developing a Crisis Plan:


1. Have a cue for when the crisis plan will begin.

Develop a code word or signal for when you are in crisis mode. Sometimes things escalate slowly (or quickly) so you need a way to clue in your staff that it is go time. A simple “code red” or “crisis” said in a calm but loud voice is enough to alert your staff.

2. Let them know how you want them to help.

I like my staff to ask me before getting involved so I specifically tell them during our staff training to ask me, “Do you need help?” before jumping in. I also tell them that if I say no to ask me  again a few minutes later. Sometimes I feel in control one minute and a few minutes later do not feel in control. You all know what I mean.

3. Let them know how they should keep the other students safe.

The most important thing in a crisis is keeping everyone safe. It’s essential to keep the other students safe and out of the way. Assign staff members certain students to be in charge of. Encourage your staff to keep the other students in their schedule as much as possible and try to keep them calm. There is nothing worse than the dreaded domino effect of one tantrum after the other. So keep those guys working and in their groove.

4. Clearly explain this to staff and write it out.

Conduct a formal staff training. Sit down. Buy donuts. Schmooze. Let them ask questions. Make it explicit. Make there be no room for misunderstanding or confusion.

5. After a crisis, debrief.

After a crisis, debrief with your staff. Start with positive feedback! Remember reinforcement is as important for your staff as it is for your students. Even if it was a complete cluster#$% – find a least one small thing that everyone did correctly. Learn from your mistakes and move on.

My colleague made these awesome visual directions for her staff. Adults need visuals too!



  1. This is a great idea! I like the use of visuals for the staff, it would also be handy for subs (even though at my school, they can’t put hands on students, but they could go find someone). I would think it also helps the other students see what will happen with them.

    Teaching Special Kids

  2. I could use your input on two of my students. They are brothers, one year apart (4th and 5th grade) both non-verbal autistic, both aggressive. They have been kept apart at their previous school because of their intolerance for each other but I am the only teacher at our school so they are going to be together in the upcoming school year. (Mom is black and blue on her arms and face from their fighting). The past 3 1/2 mos. the youngest who is 206 lbs. has been aggressive with the teacher and staff so badly that he was suspended and put on a shorter day. An autistic specialist from the autism resource center came for an observation and could not find an antecedent for this student’s behavior. Any ideas on how the whole day will not be a crises in my room? I’m going to try and schedule them out as much as possible, but they are high need so not sure how well that will work. Our school has been a crises team but this situation is making me nervous for the upcoming year and we just got out 2 days ago.

  3. Do you have a resource for that visual?

  4. is the visual available for download or purchase?

  5. Yes, like Andrea I would really appreciate being able to download the visual, please.

  6. I love the visual above! Is it available on TNT or elsewhere? 🙂

  7. Great point! This would be perfect for subs!

  8. Yikes! That would make me nervous too! Does either student have a one-on-one? Does your district accommodate that? If they are that aggressive – it sounds like they may need a more restrictive placement. I would go into the year with an open mind (as much as possible) and strive to make yourself and your classroom a super reinforcing environment. Keep workload low to start and just aim for keep behaviors to a minimum to start. You can add work in later. But if intense behaviors persist – maybe another placement is most appropriate to maintain safety.

  9. Haha! Great minds think alike! Love your post!

  10. In the process of making one! 🙂

  11. Working on it! Will hopefully have by the end of the month!


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