Work It Out Together!
A Step-by-Step Guide for Implementing a Peer Mediation Program
A school’s primary mission is to ensure that students achieve their fullest academic potential in a safe and nurturing environment. We need to create a safe-school climate where students feel connected and protected. Teaching students to get along with their peers is part of creating a safe-school climate. When students learn how to resolve their conflicts in a peaceful manner, the atmosphere at school can be more pleasant for everyone. In a safe-school environment teachers can teach and students can learn. The school is better able to focus on its original mission – Academic Achievement.
My book outlines the steps I used to create Peer Mediation Programs across several middle schools in Columbus, Ohio over a thirty-year period.
Praise from Staff:
Under the leadership of Dr. Jerri Eddington, principal at Hilltonia Middle School, the climate and culture of the school shifted in positive ways to support student learning and success. While principal, Dr. Eddington implemented an exemplar peer mediation program. For the first time in the school’s history, sixth, seventh and eighth grade students participated in resolving conflicts and settling their own disputes. A large inner city middle school, students often brought neighborhood problems and disagreements with them to school, impacting the climate and culture in negative ways. Through the strategic design and implementation of the program, the entire school community benefited. Changes in improved self-esteem, critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and positive growth in school climate for learning occurred, as well as a decrease in targeted disciplinary areas. Dr. Eddington’s leadership in instituting the program was a valuable asset to the school-wide community.
Director, Teaching and Learning,
Hilltonia Middle School
EDWorks, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks
The Peer Mediation program implemented at Dominion Middle School had a profound effect on the students in our building. It empowered students to resolve conflict together, to work toward resolution together, and to guide each other and give a voice to each other in a moment of tension and conflict.
The peer mediation program also allowed students to work out feelings of frustration without punitive or disciplinary action having to become part of the situation. This enabled students to take the lead, ask for help when necessary, and resolve issues before they escalated into a full-blown disciplinary issue.
Additionally, the program allowed students to build their own skills at resolving conflicts that will occur in their high school, college, and adult lives.
Laurel A Murphy
8th Grade Teacher, Dominion Middle School
To alleviate numerous, repeated suspensions and increase academics, Dr. Eddington established Student Peer Mediation, a procedure by which conflicting students arrived at their own solution to disagreements under the facilitation of trained student mediators. Dr. Eddington trained volunteer staff members, then student mediators. Non-violent conflicting students could now select Peer Mediation in place of other consequences if they agreed to participate in and abide by the mediation outcome.
The positive effects of Peer Mediation were the following: student suspensions were decreased; students gained a better understanding of themselves by having to state what upset them and what they needed to end the disagreement; they learned that conflict could be handled in a non-violent manner. Additionally, the Peer Mediators learned all of the above plus confidentiality, facilitation of students in conflict, and valuable leadership skills.
Champion Middle School Counselor
Dr. Jerri Eddington has the innate ability to effectively use all of the skills that she has acquired over her lifetime in her personal journey and as a mother of two amazing children, while blending two families in a way that I have personally never seen before – with total respect and open communication. She has also acquired a vast range of experience and skill sets as a teacher in a large urban school district, where she continued as a District Program Coordinator, Assistant Principal, and Principal. As she has lived, not only has she always remained true to her core values, she has done so purposefully, being the role model that so many of the children in the schools in which she had any influence, desperately needed. She didn’t stop with the students, because she knew that it could never be assumed that the adults had communication skills, and so she brought the gift of peer mediation wherever she went and gave these skills to the entire school community so that everyone could state their needs, and seek fair compromise, in a safe and caring way, and it was so very empowering! It is her legacy!
Destrie Larrabee, Retired
Columbus City Schools
A valuable tool and much needed program to diffuse conflict, and give students problem-solving and self-regulation skills they will utilize for the rest of their life. In a society where metal detectors at school entrances, gang affiliations, domestic violence, and disenfranchisement are a norm, this model attempts to solve a crises that some of our current school systems unfortunately are failing to achieve. Recent studies into youth offending where children are taught how to take responsibility for their actions, view situations from other people’s points-of- view (victims), and decide as a group (with family, community members, victim and perpetrator) how best to resolve issues, has shown marked decrease in recidivism. A policy like this introduced to middle school, will surely provide the opportunities to reach youth and engage them in powerful ways to resolve conflicts positively, and with an outcome that is best for all, before violent, or criminal escalations even begin to occur. This model by Dr. Eddington, should be introduced at all levels of schooling, the earlier the better, in order to provide a safe-school climate.