Empowered Responses To Conflict
Reflective Mediation offers specially designed Peer Mediation Programs, which train students to resolve interpersonal tension and restore justice within their school community. Unresolved conflicts in the private lives of students can reduce academic success and put at risk the safety of students and staff. Young people are more likely to communicate with peers than with adults about problems they face. Students benefit from improved conflict resolution skills and the entire school community benefits from a more positive school environment. We train volunteers to work in pairs to mediate between others in conflict, and to file reports with school staff. The programs provide practical skills that students can use within their peer group, and for the rest of their lives.
What Are The Benefits To The Students?
- Enhanced social/emotional skills
- Improved emotional self-awareness and self-management
- Elevated communication skills
- Enriched relationships with peers and adults
- Greater attunement to stress and skills of stress reduction
- Increased self-esteem
- Development of practical leadership skills
- Active citizenship in school community
- Facilitation of difficult and important conversations
- Practical problem solving skills carried forward for life
- Boosted profile on resume
- Volunteer hours toward community service requirements
How Does Peer Mediation Benefit The School Community?
- Improved learning environment
- Reduced conflict and greater safety
- Augmented respect of students for staff as disciplinarians
- Augmented respect of staff for students as peace-builders
- Enhanced communication between staff and students
- Building connections within an enriched school community
What Conflict Resolution Methods Do Students Learn?
Training components vary from school to school depending on the level of service contracted by the administration and/or parent network. Components are not only explained, but also experienced in role-playing activities and exercises as part of the training process. Approaches may include a selection from, or all of, the items listed in the Training Menu.
- Principles of interest-based negotiation (recognizing underlying interests of all parties)
- Basic ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) communication strategies for facilitating difficult conversations and guiding parties toward creating their own terms of resolution
- Active listening principles and practice
- Emotional self-awareness and self-management exercises
- Exercises in co-oppositional mindfulness
- NVC – non-violent communication principles and practice
- Restorative justice circles
How Are Peer Mediation Teams Implemented?
- Presentation to school admin and parent network
- Offering made to recruit student volunteer candidates
- Selection of volunteer team (6 or 8 students working in pairs)
- Peer Mediator Training Program – minimum 15-20 hours (outside school hours)
- Presentation of program to general student body & staff
- Commencement of peer co-mediation sessions (peer sessions are always co-mediated, never solo)
- Step 1 – peer mediators have intake sessions privately with each party
- Step 2 – when deemed appropriate, mediation occurs with both parties present
- Step 3 – coming to agreement (terms generated primarily by parties in conflict)
- Step 4 – recording key issues from the session and terms of agreement (on an anonymous basis)
- Step 5 – 1-to-2 months later: reflection session – update report from the parties
- Step 6 –monthly debriefing sessions for all team members
- Debriefing sessions – peer mediators meet quarterly with representatives from staff, parent body and Reflective Mediation to report on success and issues to address
- Annual report (prepared by Reflective Mediation) to assessing impact of Peer Mediation Program
How Involved Are Parents and School Staff?
Ongoing interaction with school staff and administration is an essential component of a successful peer mediation program. Peer mediators are expected to keep records of incidents of conflict in which they have been involved, and to report steps taken toward resolution. Such records are shared with school staff, but kept on an anonymous basis (except when the safety of staff or students may be at risk) to encourage students in conflict to participate willingly.
Periodic review of the Peer Mediation Program is essential in order to recognize successes and reflect on areas for improvement. Feedback from selected members of the parent network, school staff and administration is important during the review sessions and welcome at any time during the program.
Active participation of parents is not required in the day-to-day administration of the program, as our goal is to encourage maximum autonomy to our student volunteers.
How Are These Programs Funded?
Funding is drawn from four sources, although the ratio from each source varies from school to school. The sources are:
- School budgets
- Parent network fundraising initiatives
- Donations from individuals, corporations and charitable organizations