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Did it happen on the first day of school between two students sitting across from each other? Maybe it’s a conflict that has been going on for two years. Either way it’s hard for teachers to resolve conflicts between students, especially conflicts over events we did not see or even those that occurred before we were their teachers. That is where Peer Mediation programs come into play.

Peer Mediation is a program in which students trained as mediators help their peers reach a solution. What is unique about this form of conflict resolution is: (1) the mediators do not solve the problem, they merely help the disputants reach an agreement, (2) the process is voluntary so it is seen as an option, not a requirement, (3) students take the lead with adults supervising, and (4) the resolution of the problem is confidential.

Mediation began to reach its peak in the late 1960s and 70s when people where looking for an alternative to waiting three to five years before resolving a civil court case. Since the late 1980s Peer Mediation has really taken off in popularity, both within the legal system and in our schools.

The following sections offer more information about Peer Mediation programs and can help you understand how a mediation program may support and enhance your classroom management and conflict resolution system. It also will discuss the difference between Class Meetings – another useful conflict resolution strategy – and Peer Mediation.

Class Meetings and Peer Mediation – An overview of both programs and ideas for holding Class Meetings in your school.

What happens during a Peer Mediation? – A peek inside the mediation room.

What do I tell parents about Peer Mediation? – Some questions with suggested answers that might be raised by parents.

Can I use Peer Mediation as a teacher? – Yes, and here’s how!

Web resources on Peer Mediation and Class Meetings – A few web sites about these two topics, research links and information on starting your own programs or holding assemblies.

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Aaron Sterling has helped develop peer mediation and conflict resolution programs in California and Virginia.
He currently teaches elementary students in northern Virginia.

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