Welcome to the October issue of The School Mediator.
In this issue I discuss my approach to determining
whether a peer mediation program is
peak-performing and mature. Your response, as always, is welcome.
Wishing you the best, wherever you are,
Founder and Director
School Mediation Associates
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| Is Your Peer Mediation Program "Mature?"
I employ four criteria to determine whether a peer mediation program is
peak-performing and/or "mature."
Formulated using common sense and intuition born of many years helping
schools implement these programs, I share them here to continue the
dialogue about raising the standards of our field.
My hope is that you will be motivated to respond and
share your thoughts.
First, it is necessary to explain the distinction I make between
programs that are peak-performing and those that are mature. Peak-performing
programs mediate enough cases relative to their school's population that
they become a vital part of school life.
Mature, or stable, programs are those that have a high degree of
institutional support and effectiveness.
Mature programs have also developed a kind of sustaining momentum that,
barring unforeseen circumstances, guarantees their existence for the
medium if not the long term.
"Peak-performance" and "maturity" usually go hand in
hand, but not always. A mature program can under-perform; and a
peak-performing program might have a busy year, but not generate the
depth of support to sustain itself.
My assumption is that these criteria are applicable regardless of the
school level (elementary, middle, high school, and university) or the
country within which the program operates.
And significantly, they are not meant to determine "success."
Whether peer mediation programs are successful seems even more
subjective than the other designations. A program could be said to be
"successful," for instance, if it mediated only a single
conflict to the satisfaction of the parties involved.
My one (yes, one!) criteria for determining peak-performance is this:
The program directly serves a minimum of 10%--and
ideally 15%--of the school population each academic
year. (In a school of 450 students, a minimum of 45 students would use
mediation services each year; in a school of 1,000, a minimum of 100,
This single statistic tells volumes about the reach of a program and how
practiced and therefore invested the program coordinator and the student
Even if I know nothing else, I consider a program that serves 10% of its
student body each year peak-performing. If it does not meet this mark,
then even if all other ducks line up, I assume that it isn't.
The three criteria that signify program maturity are:
1. A minimum of 25% of mediation sessions are
by students themselves (self-referrals or referrals by
peers). This indicates most clearly the degree to which the student body
is informed about and has faith in peer mediation. It also speaks
volumes about the amount and quality of outreach the program has
conducted, the way that mediators and the mediation coordinator carry
themselves, and the quality of service they provide.
2. Administrators, especially administrators in charge
discipline, would strongly resist any attempt to do away
with their peer mediation program. This, more than almost anything else,
indicates whether a program has become an integral part of the way a
school functions--whether it has become
institutionalized. Once school administrators truly understand the
benefits of peer mediation, they simply can't imagine running their
school without it.
3. The peer mediation coordinator is fundamentally
satisfied with the resources and support they
Sure, most coordinators can think of factors that could improve their
program (more time, money, space, support, etc.). But if they are
basically satisfied with their position as it stands, then there is a
likelihood of continued success. Especially if they are talented and
So there you have it. Obviously there are other factors that could be
used to determine peak-performance and maturity. The kind of physical
space the program occupies, whether its funding comes from fickle grant
providers or from the school's budget, and the percentage of the student
body that applies to be trained as mediators immediately come to mind.
But these seem less significant than the four above.
What are your thoughts? Program coordinators: Does your program meet
these simple criteria? If not, is there a chance that it ever will? Do
you feel you coordinate a peak-performing, mature program that
not meet these criteria?
And to those whose focus is district-wide or on multiple districts: How
many of the peer mediation programs with which you are familiar meet
these criteria? Do they seem a fair tool to assess and qualify programs?
Would you add, subtract or in any way modify the criteria that I
Please respond...we will all benefit.
| About Us
almost 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.
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