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The Association of International Schools of India- Heads Retreat 2021

By Anuradha Monga
The Association of International Schools of India- Heads Retreat 2021

Conflicts and disputes are inevitable in any organization, schools not being an exception to this. Apart from it being time-consuming, conflicts have the ability to negatively impact a school’s overall morale, which is not conducive for a learning environment. How can we engage in effective negotiations, and more importantly how can we ensure that the differences are resolved in a positive way? 

In this year’s retreat we wanted to introduce mediation as an approach to resolving disputes. 

This was aimed to be part of a larger effort of TAISI to steer international schools towards mediation. Getting to 'know your conflict,’ pick-up tools to navigate tough negotiations, discover the role of a mediator in dispute resolution, learn more about why mediation makes business sense, and why at times negotiations fail despite our best efforts. In furtherance of this objective, on the 9th and 10th of July 2021, CAMP collaborated with TAISI – The Association of International Schools of India, to help enable the heads of schools, board members, and other educators be the change-makers and influencers on the concept of mediation.

CAMP Arbitration and Mediation Practice, a private commercial mediation institution, was set up in 2015. The Founder, Laila Ollapally, is an Advocate, practicing in the Courts in India for almost three decades. She came into mediation in 2007 as the Founding Coordinator of the Court Annexed Mediation Program of the High Court of Karnataka. She experienced the power of collaborative dispute resolution, and this gave birth to CAMP.

In order for the community to transition from the adversarial to the collaborative (mediation), a change in mind set is required. Young minds learning the skills of mediation are a wonderful way to change mindsets. When educators with a broader vision are inspired to inculcate this culture and set an example when disputes arise amongst themselves, the next generation is enabled. 

At the workshop, on day one, participants were introduced to the concept of ‘dialogue’ as a precursor to ‘mediation.’ An attitudinal shift is necessary to acquire the skills and techniques for an effective dialogue. On day two, through anecdotes and case studies, participants were acquainted with the neutral role of a mediator in facilitating dialogue between parties who are unable to keep up the communication and are spiraling towards disagreement and dispute. Mediation is assisted dialogue. A neutral third-party mediator facilitates the conversation using communication and negotiation techniques. The disputing parties are assisted to negotiate a mutually acceptable solution to their disagreement through self-determination.

Through a series of knowledge sessions, interactive simulations, customized role-plays, audio-video presentations and reflective exercises, the participants were invited to #trymediationtoday. The debrief and feedback from the participants in this workshop clearly reflect them witnessing the value of mediation, and their endorsement for inculcating this collaborative mindset into the character development of young school children. CAMP is excited to explore possibilities of collaborating with the members and supporters of TAISI, to create facilitated dialogic platforms for prevention of future disputes, and effective resolution through mediation of existing and future disputes in schools – among faculty, management, and others through mediation. CAMP, in collaboration with TAISI, looks forward to working with schools in introducing peer mediation and building collaboration capability on campus.

Anuradha Monga is an International School Leader and the Founder, Chairperson of TAISI, The Association of International Schools of India

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