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Dana Sheridan
September 26, 2023

Peer Mediation…Students Helping Students with Conflict-Resolution

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At The Village School, we are attempting to shift the mindset that mediation is for older individuals or adults. We are currently in year three of implementing a peer mediation program at the lower school campus, and timed to align with ‘Bullying Prevention Month’.

The program directly aligns with our mission as an international community committed to developing inquisitive lifelong learners prepared to think critically, collaborate genuinely, and give of themselves generously, as they prepare to lead the next generation in an ever-changing world.

Peer mediation is a proactive, voluntary process where students trained as neutral third parties help other students in conflict reach clarity about their concerns, better understand one another, and come to a mutual agreement about how to appropriately move forward. It is a confidential process for resolving conflicts. The mediation process creates a safe space where students can candidly talk through their disputes in hopes of seeking a better understanding of one another’s perspective. The three main styles of communication are: passive, aggressive, and assertive. The goal is to improve each student’s communication style to become more assertive in expressing their wants and needs. Let’s be honest, we all can improve in the art of assertiveness! Participants of a mediation don’t have to leave “best friends”; however, they must agree to be “friendly” towards each other and follow appropriate social norms.   

The peer mediation program is designed to increase all students’ conflict resolution skills by building leadership in a small group of students to mentor and support their peers within the social-emotional domain. The chosen 4th-grade peer mediators are elected by their classmates at the conclusion of their 3rd-grade school year as standouts in good citizenship skills. The week of September 18th, seven 4th grade peer mediators participated in a workshop of small group lessons with the Counselor to develop and practice mediation skills and learn what it means to fulfill the role of a peer mediator. They practiced mature concepts such as active listening, impartiality, and confidentiality.

In addition to peer mediation, these students also provide a service of educating younger grade levels via a classroom guidance lesson on specific social-emotional topics as requested by classroom teachers. The mediators assist with this whole-group proactive educational process and lesson. 

The overall goal of the peer mediation program is to empower the selected peer mediators so they can educate fellow students to use strategies and manage conflict independently, proactively, and positively. It hugely benefits the individuals involved in the mediation and the mediators themselves.

Program leader Dana Sheridan and two of the student peer meditators were interviewed by KPRC2 Houston to talk about their experiences, watch the full interview here.

Dana Sheridan, M.A, LPC, is a lower school counselor at The Village School, a pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade private day and boarding school located in the Energy Corridor.