The School Mediator
Peer Mediation Insights From the Desk of Richard Cohen Vol. IV, 10/04

in this issue

A Peer Mediation Outreach Campaign

About Us

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The School Mediator's Field Guide:
Prejudice, Sexual Harassment, Large Groups and Other Daily Challenges
by Richard Cohen
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Students Resolving Conflict:
Peer Mediation in Schools

by Richard Cohen
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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,

Richard Cohen
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 available

    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 campaign.

    The centerpiece is a raffle, but one which students can enter only by proactively learning more about mediation.

    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 life.

    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 idea:

    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. 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 library.

  • About Us
  • For 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.

    Call us: 617-926-0994
    Email us:
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    Post us: 134w Standish Road,
    Watertown, MA 02472 USA

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