Rainbow, the SMUSosaurus, joined Grade 2 students this week to help them learn about conflict resolution. The students are working on becoming the peacemakers of the Junior School by learning and practicing basic methods of conflict resolution.
“Peacemaking is not a programme,” says teacher Karen Dicks. “It’s a method that empowers children to solve many of their own peer problems.” Ms. Dicks began by conducting a group discussion with her class about how conflicts had been handled in the past and how successful different actions were in resolving the issue.
“One of the main complaints was that when there were ‘events,’ people wouldn’t listen or wouldn’t stay around to discuss the problem,” says Ms. Dicks. “We talked about the fact that when you’re angry or upset, it’s pretty hard to solve your own problems.”
As peacemakers, the students were taught to work in pairs and to approach a conflict in a non-judgmental way by asking questions like “Do you want to solve the problem?” and “Do you want to solve it with us or the teacher?” The peacemakers then listen to each side of the conflict, suggest possible solutions and find one that everyone can agree on.
More often than not, just the opportunity to express their feelings is enough to end the conflict, says Ms. Dicks. “It gives children in conflict the chance to be heard and validated.”
While there are no rules in conflict resolution, Ms. Dicks and her students did come up with guidelines to follow, including:
Stop the action – offer to help, but do not touch the people in conflict
Identify the problem – have both parties state the problem
Agree to solve the problem – both parties have to decide to work it out together
Listen to each other – no interrupting – use “I” talk
Find solutions – brainstorm ideas, choices, solutions
Agree on a solution
Make a plan – what will happen next time?
End with a gesture – it can be a hug or a handshake
The SMUSosaurus will be hanging around Junior School to help the new peacemakers remember these helpful hints.
“The SMUSosaurus is a visual reminder of the children’s commitment to finding responsible solutions both inside and outside the classroom,” says Ms. Karen Dicks. “As the children’s skills increase, they hope to share their messages about conflict resolution with other classes in the school.”