When conflict arises in our environments, we direct students to a peer mediator or the peace table, a spot designated to help students resolve issues in a calm and respectful manner. Our goal is for every child to tell their side of the story and share their feelings. At MMS, our elementary age students sign a peer mediator’s contract outlining clear steps to solve the problem.
Talk it out
When students first arrive at the peace table, we ask them what happened. All students are able to tell their version of the situation. Only one student may talk at a time to minimize interruptions. We also encourage each child to look at whomever is speaking, be fully engaged and actively listening. These methods demonstrate respect – when practiced regularly, they learn how to respect each other.
“How did the situation make you feel?” is the most important question we ask students. Everyone shares how the conflict made or makes them feel. As mentioned before, each student is paying attention to the speaker and everyone gets a turn to share.
Work toward a solution
Each student will work on a solution for the issue. We go over what can happen differently next time if the same situation occurs. Unlike the previous two steps, both children are allowed to speak as they collaborate on a solution. By the time the students talk about the problem and share their feelings, the animosity is gone, creating an environment of understanding and teamwork.
Aside from the peace table, each elementary age child accepts the peer mediator’s contract. These are our overall goals, and what we pledge to do, to resolve classroom conflict:
- Treat others with kindness.
- Help other people.
- Listen to others solve their problems.
- Reduce the problems in the class.
- Set a good example for others.
- Try to solve our own problems.
- Spread peace.
We don’t force apologies because we want students to learn the meaning and feel the weight of the words, “I’m sorry.” We desire for children to understand why their actions or words were harmful and feel apologetic on their own. At the core, the peace table and peer mediator’s contract are all about understanding and respecting others.
If you’re interested in learning more about our conflict resolution methods, feel free to reach out