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Peer Mediation Teaches Students Life Skills at Carol Morgan School

At Carol Morgan School, middle and high school students go through extensive training, then work in pairs to help peers resolve conflicts.

By Rachael L. Gerbic

04/19/2017

Students trained in peer mediation learn key life concepts, such as placing themselves in another person’s shoes. They develop the understanding that conflict is a normal part of daily life, that our response to conflict is what makes a difference, and that conflicts largely arise due to limited resources, unmet basic needs, and differing values. Students undergoing this training additionally gain an understanding of the basic needs of every human being—which can be summarized as freedom, power, belonging, and fun—and how these might become sources of conflict. They learn the various response styles to conflict and how to choose a path that might de-escalate a problem while also creating win-win solutions. They learn how to be peacemakers.

Once students gain a clear understanding that conflict is a normal part of our daily lives, they learn to relax in the face of tension and gain confidence in addressing the various challenges that come their way, knowing these are to be expected.

The middle and high school years can be challenging and learning these communication skills will certainly help students navigate a smoother path, but it doesn’t end there. We are all faced with conflicts throughout our lives and developing skills to manage such conflicts in a calm solution-focused manner will help us in college, in our future workplaces, with colleagues, with bosses, in our personal relationships, and even later with our children. Mediation skills are life skills.

Middle school students often do not have the skills or tools they need to manage conflicts in a positive way. When students go through mediation training or find themselves in a mediation lead by their peers, they gain a sense of having a locus of control within themselves. They see others are managing conflict and resolving it efficiently and learn that they too can accomplish this without allowing the conflict to cause major stress in their lives, to endure for great lengths of time, or to cause broken relationships with classmates and friends.
Because international schools are innately comprised of people from all over the world with differing opinions, worldviews, and cultural backgrounds, they are obvious places in which conflict might arise.

Teaching students the skills they need to manage interpersonal relationships early on in their lives will achieve a number of outcomes. Students who are not experiencing the stress of unresolved conflicts are better able to focus in the classroom. They are less likely to resort to maladaptive ways of coping with stress—such as drugs, alcohol, and sex—because they have a channel for addressing conflict head on. Social isolation and bullying are reduced, as mediation becomes part of the fabric and culture of the school and aggression and unkindness is frowned upon by the majority.

Students as young as Grade 2 are able to successfully process their conflicts and find win-win solutions with the help of the Peace Table, an age-appropriate format usually established in a quiet corner of the classroom where students walk through a step-by-step conflict resolution process.

In middle and high school, students go through an extensive training, usually over the course of two full days, and become trained mediators and peacemakers who work in pairs to assist other peers in resolving conflicts and finding win-win solutions.

Regular promotion of the mediation program and an ongoing awareness campaign on school campuses are key elements in maintaining a peaceful school atmosphere. Students and faculty become keenly aware that mediation is an option available to them at any time, that it is confidential, and that it works, in all aspects of their lives.




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Comments

04/20/2017 - Cara
Awesome work Rachael!
04/20/2017 - Available resources?
Where can I find resources regarding article's mediation program?

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