How To Start A Peer Mediation Session

The coordinator who must be a trained mediator and one who has both the time and commitment building a successful peer mediation program plays a central-stage role in the mediation process.

The coordinator has the responsibility of selecting the student mediator(s) who act(s) as a neutral third party to guide conversations between peers in the conflict.

At the mediation session the mediator listens very well, does not take sides and clarifies issues by:

1. Restating some statements by either party

2. Asking open-ended questions

3. Reframing

4. Looking at body language for cues.

The procedure varies, but most processes use the general format below.

1. Introduction

The mediator(s) introduces themselves, welcome(s) the disputants and ask the disputants to introduce themselves. The mediator then explains the ground rules which are:

- Telling the truth

- Being polite, no put-downs or threats

- Doing their best to find a solution to the problem

- Listening to each other without interruption.

The mediator then emphasises the confidentiality rule which the disputants must agree to abide by for the session to go on.

2. Identifying the problem(s) by asking each side to tell their story. The mediator can start by saying "can you please describe what happened"?

3. Getting more information by asking open-ended questions such as "Is there anything else that we need to know"

4. Showing understanding of each child's perspective through your nonverbal reactions or making clarification by asking "Is this what I heard you say-----"?

5. Keep them focused on the issue by saying " I need you to concentrate on the issue that is causing the conflict".

6. The mediator asks both parties to brainstorm on how the problem will be solved. The mediator then writes down all the options, marking the ones agreed upon. But if no solution is forthcoming, participants return to previous steps, sometimes individual sessions with each disputant and the mediator might be necessary.

7. Together decide on what steps to take by clarifying the first step that needs to be taken on the agreed settlement. For example who will do what and when to do it.

8. The mediator writes a contract using the solutions to which both parties agree and everyone signs.

9. Decide on a consequence if either party does not follow through. Write the consequence in the agreement.

10. Mediator(s) thanks the disputants for the success of the session and remind(s) them of the rule of confidentiality.

11. After a period of time agreed upon the former disputants report back to the mediator on whether the agreement is being held up by both parties.

If the peer mediation program has the support of the whole school and is carefully and well planned by a committed coordinator, it will be effective in reducing interpersonal disputes and bullying.

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