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School Mediator's Field Guide:
Prejudice, Sexual Harassment,
Large Groups and Other Daily Challenges
Peer Mediation in Schools
Welcome to the September issue of
This issue is posted in celebration and gratitude
for the hard work of peer mediation coordinators everywhere.
Please send along your thoughts and
experiences. It is always a pleasure to hear from you.
Wishing you the best, wherever you are,
Founder and Director
School Mediation Associates
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|A Parade for Peer Mediation Coordinators|
A few weeks ago I learned that a peer mediation
whom I greatly respect, I'll call him Constantine, lost
A model educator and all around great guy,
possesses the qualities I have admired in many peer
coordinators: "off-the-charts" interpersonal
ability to build caring relationships with adults and
quickly, hardworking, compassionate and politically savvy.
His peer mediation program met my definition of a "peak performing"
mediation program. Hundreds of students were
mediators during his
tenure, and thousands participated in mediation
Because the circumstance of his leaving were difficult,
Constantine did not receive the send off that he
His dedication and service warranted a farewell banquet;
got a thank you.
After my initial shock and disappointment subsided, I
wonder: Did educators at his school appreciate what
impact Constantine had on their students?
Clearly the answer was no.
The reason, I think, is partly this: Peer mediation
are relatively invisible.
Peer Mediation Coordinator positions are
generally not on
Though some coordinators hold full or part-time
overwhelming majority--90% or more--are teachers or
counselors first, peer mediation coordinators
might receive a stipend, they even might be assigned
class to teach, but they coordinate the program in
their regularly scheduled job. Significantly, their
as coordinator are not part of their official job
are not evaluated on their peer mediation work,
compensation, if they receive any, does not
regular school budget.
Peer Mediation Coordination is largely a
Coordinators help students help each other. They
logistics, and then stand back while young people do
work. More the manager behind the scenes than the
singer in the band, coordinators are often not
their contribution. (Despite this, many coordinators
humbleness and selflessness that would look good on
educator: it is not about them, it is about their
Peer Mediation Coordinators' work is
Coordinators are forbidden from discussing a large
their work with anyone else in their buildings. This
increase their invisibility.
Though they have an impact upon students as powerful as
their buildings, peer mediation coordinators' work falls
cracks, hidden from the view of many of their
Is this a problem? I think so, and perhaps in a future
can discuss how to address this challenge.
But for now, and inspired by Constantine's departure, I
start this year by celebrating the
mediation coordinators everywhere.
In fact, I have organized a virtual parade. Throngs are
either side of the street composed of all the students
ever trained as mediators, all the young people and
have participating in mediation sessions, and many
peers, teachers, parents, siblings, community
members--who, though one or two degrees removed from mediators
have also benefited from your work.
All you have to do is stroll down the street.
The crowd is shouting your name, giving you high
They have all come out to say one thing to you:
|Response to "Letting Things Be Wrong"|
We received a number of responses to
of The School Mediator. They follow below...
I find your thoughts very much on target.
Mediation is not a mechanical process based only on
knowledge and the mastery of skills; it is very much
intertwined with our life experiences. Our personal
and professional development always present
for new depth and breadth of understanding of the
We may be going in the same direction, but not on the
path, or at the same pace.
Luis Borri, Chaplain
School of Law
Inter American University
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Your most recent article are the words of a well
Ultimately, it is up to the participants to find their own
solutions. If they don't within the time span of their
mediation, the process of a well-run, respectful
begins to carve a path for them which may help them
solution in the future.
Much of our work is planting seeds; sometimes we get
see what comes up...sometimes we can only wait and
Thanks for the reminder and for the support for our
Ellie Dendahl, Coordinator
School Mediation Program
Santa Fe Public Schools
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Thank you for this issue. I especially liked your
"Work hard, create a space for peace, and hope for the
best." I may add that phrase to my training.
I often remind myself and those I train that "it's not our
that we're talking about.
I explain to parties too that I am definitely not "the
that it's not about me. Parties find it reassuring to
ultimately they are in charge, and it is an easy way to
Carol Stewart, Program Director
NH Mediation Program
Concord, New Hampshire
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