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What is Peer Meditation?

By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on February 20, 2015

What is Peer Mediation?

Mediationis a way of helping individuals or groups resolve conflicts by talking with each other instead of fighting or walking away.

A peer mediator (or a team of peer mediators) works with individuals or groups who are in conflict.  The peer mediator is trained to listen and to help resolve the conflict.  The peer mediator does not tell the people what to do.  The peer mediator has no power to enforce a solution, and the peer mediator must never take sides.

The goal of mediation is to help people in the conflict create a solution that works for both of them – a win/win solution – even if they both have to compromise a little bit on what they want.

Mediation Session #1

Goals:

  • Students will learn the importance of note-taking and reflective listening.
  • Students will learn how to take notes.

Overview:

Note Taking and Reflective Listening - Demonstration

Brainstorm – Why take notes / What is important to note?

Practice in Pairs

Game – President

Activities:

  • Demonstration of Note Taking and Reflective Listening: Working with a co-teacher or a student you have prepared in advance, demonstrate note taking by asking for a story – about what happened last weekend, or another event/idea, and taking simple, shorthand notes. Repeat back the story, to show that you have gotten all the details correct.
  • Brainstorm: Why take notes?  Why is it important to repeat back what you have heard? Show the students your notes and ask how you were able to repeat the whole story by just having down a few simple notes. Brainstorm important things to note and what things can be left off.  Important things to have down could include:

Names       

Times

One or two word descriptions of important issues

Feelings – how parties feel about one another and any conflicts 

 Needs – a party suggests something needed from the other party.

Offers – a party suggests, even in passing, that they would be willing to do to resolve the conflict.

  • Practice in Pairs:  Break the group up into pairs, and ask one member of the pair to talk about the funniest thing that has ever happened to them, while the other person takes notes.  After 2-3 minutes, ask the person taking notes to repeat back what they have heard, and check how accurate their listening has been.  Then switch, and repeat the process.

Mediation Session 2

Goals:

  • Students will learn the importance of active listening and begin to practice listening actively.

Schedule:

Game – Dragon’s Gold

Active Listening - Demonstration of poor listening

Brainstorm – Why important, what makes active listening?  

Practice – Concentric Circles

Activities:   

  • Game: Dragon’s Gold.  The group forms a circle with one person at the center.  Beneath the person at the center of the circle is a flag or piece of cloth or paper which represents the dragon’s treasure.  The dragon’s job is to guard the treasure, while the people in the circle must get the treasure away from her/him.  They must sneak into the circle, one at a time, without the dragon noticing.  If the dragon touches them or if the teacher sees more than one person at once trying to get the treasure, anyone inside the circle is frozen. This person must stay in the same position until someone is successful with taking the treasure.  The person that succeeds becomes the new dragon.
  • Demonstration of poor listening:  In front of the class, ask your co-teacher (or a prepared student) about his or her weekend.  As they tell you in detail, do everything to demonstrate poor listening.  Don’t make eye contact.  Don’t look at them.  Use distant body language, lean away from them, look around and out the window, act bored, interrupt them and talk to someone else, etc.
  • Pause the demonstration and ask the class what just happened.  Try to name everything which showed you weren’t interested.  Ask your co-teacher or student how it felt not being listened to, and let the class know that, perhaps, the most important part of mediation is active listening. People have conflicts when they don’t feel they are heard.  If you make people feel like they are heard, that’s progress to understanding one another.
  • Brainstorm a list of things that show you are listening well.  Be sure this list includes:

Eye contact

Leaning towards the person

Asking clarifying questions

Repeating what the other person says to make sure you understand

 “Open” and interested body language

  • Concentric Circles– divide the class into two groups and have one group form a circle facing outwards, while the other group forms a larger circle facing inwards so that everyone in the circle has a partner.  

Ask the inside circle to tell their partners about their families, while the outside circle practices active listening.  After one minute, tell them to switch roles, with the outside circle talking and the inside circle listening.

Rotate the inside circle to the left, and repeat the exercise asking about their favorite thing to do on the weekend.

Rotate the outside circle to the left, and repeat the exercise asking about the thing they are most proud.

Debrief the activity.  Ask for one interesting thing the students learned about different people in the group, ask how it felt to be listened to, and ask what people did well and what needs improvement.

Anti-Bullying Support Systems at Home and at School

By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on February 20, 2015

Anti-Bullying Support Systems at Home and at School

By Amy Williams @AmyKWilliams1

 

What do you think of when you hear the word TOMATO?

Most people envision spaghetti sauce, pico de gallo, BLT’s, or toppings for a salad. However, our family has come to loathe the garden staple. We didn’t start out despising this summertime treat--in fact we usually anticipated it.

That was until this past summer, when bullying found it’s way into our child’s life and left us reeling from pain and hurt.

Bullying Happened To Us

Sixth grade had just begun: the year was fresh and full of promise. Our 12 year old son eagerly signed up to play football in a recreational league. As we signed the permission slips, we were completely unaware of the misery we had just invited into our child’s life.

Somewhere between the school and practice fields, our son found himself the target of a bully. It started when a pile of rotten tomatoes was discovered in a ditch along the route the team walked to the field. Every afternoon, boys would smash the decayed globs into our son’s face and taunt him with cruel words.

Over and over this happened.

Then it escalated to pelting our son with walnuts. When the bully grew tired of that method, he began tossing our child’s cleats onto the roof of the concession stand.

Soon our son didn’t want to play football. He began having terrible stomach aches and cried that he couldn’t go to school. His grades began to drop and we received emails from concerned teachers about his changing personality.

We knew something was happening, but our son kept quiet, protecting his tormentors.

Finally, it was our turn to drive the carpool, and we noticed our son walking to the van barefoot and holding back tears. After the other boys had been delivered, our son finally erupted into spasms of tears and wails.

His admission finally made sense. He had been displaying a lot of the typical signs of being bullied:

●       Disrupted sleep schedules

●       Lack of interest in his hobbies and pastimes

●       Worried emails from teachers

●       Declining grades

●       Sickness

Gaps Between Home And School

We had been clueless to his suffering until that afternoon.

The next morning, we made a few calls to his teachers and coaches. Immediately, the teachers and administration took our situation seriously. They paid extra attention during class, transition times, and lunch.

All of the intervention was wonderful, except that there was no way to extend this beyond the brick walls of the school.

Suddenly, the world outside of home and school became frightening for our tween. We couldn’t be with him 24 hours a day. Our child had to deal with his bully at practice, Scouts, church, and even the swimming pool!

What were we supposed to do?

Steps Schools Can Take to Address Reports of Bullying

Fortunately, our family felt supported and encouraged by the school administration. We know this isn’t always the situation. Here are some ways schools can be part of the support system needed:

Listen to Students: When students experiencing bullying encounter an administration that either tries to brush of or delegitimize their claims, the problem can become exponentially worse. One of the primary effects of bullying at school on children is making them feel unsafe at school. When school administrators are doing nothing to address an unsafe atmosphere, students can feel like they have no escape.

Address the Problem: Schools often avoid involvement with reports of bullying due to fear of running into bigger problems down the line, whether with the bully's parents or other school administrators. However, when failure to act can further jeopardize students' safety, steps should be taken immediately in almost all cases. This can take the form of anything from observing how the bully talks to the child, to questioning the bully him or herself.

Communicate with Parents: While addressing bullying itself should be a priority, communicating with parents of both bullied children and bullies is an important step to preventing bullying as well. This will ensure that proper steps can be taken at home to make sure children feel safe and supported.

Watch for Signs of Bullying: Students shouldn't feel like they're always being scrutinized, however they should feel that, if they were to be bullied, they would have the proper administrative recourse. Stopping bullying before it escalates is the best step to take in preventing bullying.

8 Tips For Mindful Parents

If a parent feels their child is being bullied, here are 8 strategies to help stop the situation from developing into a more serious problem:

●       Seek peer and mentor support. Look into a program that pairs a child with a mentor. Pairs spend quality time together to give a child extra encouragement.

●       Start a bullying awareness group in your community.Host a guest speaker or raise awareness with groups like Stand For The Silent.

●       Join online anti-bullying communities. Groups offer emotional support and practical resources for families dealing with bullying situations

●       Document acts of harassment. Be proactive-save evidence in case you seek intervention from the authorities.

●       Be present. An adult presence can be a great deterrent to bullying. Volunteer at events and listen to your child. Let them know you have their back.

●       This will pass.  Reassure children the situation will get better.

●       Model good social skills and positive interactions. Children are watching and emulating what they see. Demonstrate kindness.

●       Monitor a child’s cell phone and Internet activity. Cyberbullying is quickly becoming the favored method to attack a victim. Keep children safe and track their Social Media pages, texts, and friend lists.

Strengthening Anti-Bullying Support

Ultimately, after a lot of deliberation, we decided to contact the aggressor’s parents. This might not work for everyone, but we knew the family and felt it was the best solution. After conferring with each other and a lot of discussion with both boys, the bullying finally tapered off.

It’s easy to overlook bullying, especially when children hide the truth from parents. We need to be aware that bullying prevention starts at home. Something as simple as taking an extra minute to reinforce positive social skills can make a big impact in the life of all children.

Society needs to be vigilant and strengthen anti-bullying support so life doesn’t surprise others with rotten tomatoes.

17 Ways Schools Can Educate Parents About Bullying

By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on November 23, 2014

By Dr. Michele Borba

Twitter: @MicheleBorba

Blog: http://micheleborba.com/blog/

 

REALITY CHECK: A meta-analysis of over 600 studies on bullying found that a key to reducing peer cruelty is parent education.


I’ve worked in bullying prevention with hundreds of schools around the world as well as on 18 US Army bases and I find the same thing no matter where I am: parent education must be a component in effective bullying prevention. In fact, the sooner we engage and educate parents about the dynamics of bullying and the most effective strategies to reduce it, the better we can help all our children-bullies, targets and bystanders.

 

I’ve included 17 ways I’ve seen schools and communities involve parents in bullying prevention. I’ve learned that there is no right way to strengthen the home-school connection about bullying prevention. Home-grown and organic strategies are always better, and when students are involved it strengthens your efforts even more.

[Read more…]

Sara’s Story

By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on October 15, 2014

Sara’s Story

13 year-old pop-opera singer Sara Stevensknows all too well what it feels like to be bullied for being “different”. Instead of being defeated by the teasing and harsh words she found solace and a new-found confidence through singing.

While she is only 13, some of Sara’s accomplishments include performing in La Boheme with the Atlanta Opera; singing the National anthem at the New York Giants vs. New England Patriots game; and gracing the legendary stage at Carnegie Hall. She's now working on her album with famed producer Paul Schwartzof Phantom of the Opera on Broadway.

This is her story:

 

My name is Sara Stevens. I'm 13 years old and I'm a singer. Have you ever been picked on, called a mean name or just simply left out and ignored? This is something kids deal with every day.

I understand. I was bullied too.

I was told that I was too tall, that I like to draw too much, and that I like to sing too much. Some kids even said I was fat. That hurt, but it never stopped me from being myself.

I remember one night I couldn't sleep and cried because I was so worried about going to school in the morning.

My mom taught me to be strong and I believe that tough times can make you stronger. When something is difficult, you can develop a confidence in yourself that you never knew you had.

My grandparents have also been very supportive of me following my dream, and they have done a lot to make it possible for me to do just that. My grandmother has told me many times to never try to be like anyone else, but to just be myself. My granddad reminds me to keep going when things don't go exactly the way I want. He tells me to keep working at what I am trying to accomplish.

There are other people who have been there for me. My vocal coach Amy Zorn has taught me so much about singing, and to never be afraid to show my feelings to the audience. And my producer Paul Schwartz, who is the first to congratulate me when a performance or recording has gone well, is also the first to remind me to continue working hard.

I also met a man named John Roberts. He's a music producer in Atlanta. Together, he and I wrote a song called Dance In This Dreamwhich was inspired by what I had gone through.

All these encouraging words from the people in my life make me feel good and happy. The best advice I can give to anyone out there struggling is believe in yourself never back down. Always stand up and know that your dream is waiting for you.   

I hope with all my heart that this song will touch many lives. It has a powerful message about looking for the positive and overcoming the negative. 

The most important thing a person can do is to be him or herself. Don't let anything hold you back, take your chance, find your dream and everything is possible! 

 

Listen to “Dance In This Dream” here.

8 No-Prep Methods to Reduce Classroom Bullying: By Beth Morrow

By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on October 13, 2014

With the continual crush of standards and tests in our classrooms, it’s tempting to bypass the more creative and less structured social activities that don’t end up on a bubble sheet.

The irony is that those feel-good moments are the only opportunity many students have to get to know each other in a socially positive environment as people, not competitors. Bullying is often the result of one person seeking power or attention--or both--from someone lacking confidence in their own social self-worth. The danger is that in eliminating deliberate social skill-building activities, students do not have exposure to or experience in building their own self-worth.  By cutting out these confidence-building moments, it’s as though we are expecting fewer bullying behaviors by eliminating the very tools that can help improve the situation.

We frequently claim we need more time to improve classroom climate but more time is not a prerequisite. Here are eight no/low-prep ways to infuse our classrooms with the behaviors we most want to see from our students.

[Read more…]

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