Monday, October 14, 2013

Lee Mediators - Part 1

This fall I will be training all of our fifth graders to be Peer Mediators using the Peers Making Peace curriculum.  Once students are trained, I will allow them to sign-up to help younger students on our campus with conflict resolution, under my supervision.

I started with a discussion of what conflict means.  Students brainstormed synonyms and we were able to come up with a working definition that conflict ultimately means "a disagreement."  It can be anything from an argument to a fight to a war.

I then asked them,
  • "Who in this room has ever had a conflict?"
  • "Who are some of the people we have conflict with?"
  • "What are some of the things we have conflict about?"
With conflict fresh in our minds, I had them describe the feelings that come up when dealing with conflict in their lives.  It was easy to find a common theme amongst the feelings, they are all negative feelings.  Most often in conflict we find there is a winner and a loser.

I then asked students, "If we could change conflict to be win/win, do you think the feelings might be more positive?"  Mediation does exactly that and I will be training you to do this!  I shared some scary statistics that have appeared in the news over the last year of students handling conflict in a lose/lose battle.  This charged up our mission to help other students at Lee handle conflicts!

I will be teaching them about conflict and new skills for dealing with conflict, communication skills and the process of mediation.  They will help our school become a better place by helping students talk about their conflicts, thus reducing fights at our school and helping students find a positive way for solving their problems.

I also sent home a parent note explaining the program:

This year, fifth graders at Lee Elementary will be trained as peer mediators, “Lee Mediators.”  Recognizing that young people are competent to participate in the resolution of their own disputes encourages student growth and gives students skills such as listening, critical thinking, and problem solving that are basic to all learning.  Mediation training, with its emphasis upon listening to others’ points of view and the peaceful resolution of differences, assists in preparing students to live in a multicultural world.  Also by shifting the responsibility for solving appropriate school conflicts from adults to students, it frees teachers to concentrate more on teaching than on discipline.  

Conflict is a natural human state that often accompanies change.  It is better approached with skills than by avoidance.  The use of mediation in school-based disputes can improve communication between and among students, teacher, administrators and parents.  It can improve the school climate and provide a forum for addressing common concerns.  Medication training helps both students and teachers broaden their understanding about themselves and others and provides them with a lifetime of dispute-resolution skills.  Mediation training also increases students’ interest in conflict resolution, justice, and the American legal system while encouraging a higher level of citizenship activity. 

Students will learn about

  • conflict and new skills for dealing with conflict,
  • communication skills,
  • process of mediation
  • and how to help in making Lee a better place

I will be training our fifth graders this fall and upon the completion of training they will be available for mediations between students and others interested in resolving their conflicts in a nonviolent manner, under my supervision.  Please let me know if you have any questions about this program.

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