It is a rare event when all the participants registered attend according to the schedule, particularly when the class meets over several consecutive days. Child care issues, illnesses, scheduling conflicts, and car trouble will often cause a participant to request a modification to their schedule. In keeping with Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, as taught in The Mandt System, Mandt faculty tries to be flexible to meet the needs of the participant.

Applying the principles learned in the Crisis Cycle, if the student is preoccupied or anxious, they are at least stimulated and possibly escalated, and likely will be less able to focus their attention, comprehend and retain information. In helping participants feel safe and secure we are assisting him/her to return to baseline where they are more easily engaged and instruction more likely to be effective.

On occasion, something more than a minor scheduling issue occurs. In one event, the majority of the participants worked together and knew each other. Midweek they received notices during class informing them of the death of two of their facility members and the hospitalization of a family member of another facility member. Everyone was shocked, depressed and many tears were shed in the class. Participants needed to absorb the information and mourn. It was clearly time to take a break. As the facilitator, rather than dictate the time my goal was to use my RADAR to determine when to reconvene the class.

The real challenge was how to engage the class upon their return and “assist” them in getting past the emotion. How does the facilitator move forward with this cloud over the room? Upon return, the class spent a few more minutes sharing information and feelings. After an appropriate interval I called for their attention and suggested we do the GRID activity, which several individuals had expressed an interest in learning. Everyone choose to participate and upon completing the activity, everyone’s focus was on understanding the activity, acknowledging the team work and refocusing on the material. The added benefit of the GRID activity is that it is non-verbal, limiting conversations during the activity.

The next day this was used as a teachable moment. The use of the activity demonstrated how the diversion and distraction can break the emotional intensity being experienced and assist individuals in returning to baseline. Refocusing participants’ attention on the activity changed the mood in the class, and demonstrated the statement by Dr Haim Ginott, “It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather”.

Aaryce Hayes – SVP Operations