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Peer Mediation in Schools
Welcome to the October issue of The School Mediator.
This month's issue describes a straightforward
and effective outreach strategy.
As always, please send along your thoughts and experiences.
Wishing you the best, wherever you are,
Founder and Director
School Mediation Associates
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A Peer Mediation Outreach Campaign
As I have discussed in a previous issue of this newsletter, outreach is an essential and ongoing activity
of any successful peer mediation program. Its major
goals are to:
*Educate students and staff about peer mediation
* Build the school community's trust and confidence
in your program
* Continually remind potential parties and
referral sources that peer mediation services are
Over the years I have collected or created dozens
of strategies to spread the word about peer mediation.*
As a result, I don't often discover a new one.
But Mike Tiano and the mediators at the Ahern Middle
School in Foxborough MA have devised an outreach campaign
that is worth passing on.
Their effort integrates a number of common outreach
strategies into a relatively simple yet highly effective
The centerpiece is a raffle, but one which students
can enter only by proactively learning more about
Here's how it works:
The day begins with an announcement over the loud
speaker that introduces and explains the raffle.
To become eligible to win a prize, students have to
approach a peer mediator and ask them a question about
mediation. Mediators are hard to miss in brightly
colored peer mediation t-shirts. In exchange for asking
a question, they receive a numbered ticket.
Winning numbers and names, picked at the end of the
day (Mike selected a winner from each grade at the
school) are announced over the loud speaker.
Mike reports that the student body found this idea
very compelling. Already this Fall, months after their
first effort, students have asked Mike and the mediators
to hold the raffle again.
Many aspects of this idea impress me:
For one, it generates a great deal of interest
in peer mediation. The Ahern mediators reported
that most of their peers were truly curious about
the program and asked questions that were thoughtful
and sincere. As a result, hundreds now know what peer
mediation is, how it relates to school discipline,
and why it is a vital (yet often unseen) part of school
Second, this campaign provides an opportunity for
student mediators to refine their ability to represent
mediation. This builds their confidence and deepens
their own understanding of mediation. (You know the
saying: "The best way to learn something is to teach
it to others.")
Third, it creates an excuse for interactions
that enable mediators to develop personal relationships
with more of their classmates.
Finally, it places the mediators in a position
of strength vis. a vis. their peers, for it is
the mediators' responsibility to determine whether
questions are legitimate or merely token gestures.
Only the former are "ticket-worthy."
A couple of words of advice if you want to try this
1. Don't make a big deal about the prizes.
The Foxborough mediators gave out free movie passes
donated by a local cinema. Prizes can be relatively
inexpensive items like a CD, a pizza, a video rental,
or an ice cream cone. Local businesses should jump
at the chance to support the important work of the
mediation program and gain exposure in the school,
especially since it costs them so little.
2. Find a way to enable students to easily identify
the mediators b>. As discussed in the aforementioned
issue of the newsletter, t-shirts are a top-notch
way to raise the profile of your peer mediation program.
But if you don't have t-shirts, there are surely other
inexpensive ways to make mediators easy to find.
If you use this idea, let me know how it goes. Also, if you
have other wonderful outreach ideas, send them along and I will post them
in a future issue (crediting you, of course).
Note: This idea was successful at the middle school
level. Given that high school students are generally
not as easy to excite and engage, you might have to
modify this for a high school audience.
*Twenty three outreach strategies are listed in my
first book, Students Resolving Conflict: Peer Mediation in Schools. You can purchase
the book from us or perhaps find it in your local
twenty years, School Mediation Associates has been
devoted to the application and promotion of mediation
in schools. SMA's mission is to transform schools
into safer, more caring, and more effective institutions.
Our books and training programs have been utilized by tens of thousands of people
around the world.
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