Saturday, January 7, 2017

Sewing Sashes for Champlain's Peer Mediation and Unexpected Developments

In December, thirty-seven Champlain students in grades 2-5 trained to become peer mediators over three sessions. In recognition of their new credentials, (my) mother and retired seamstress Rochelle Dorfman, sewed aqua and blue sashes for the students. She and I also brought a variety of buttons - gold stars, pets, and funny fruit - for students to sew for each training they attended and session they mediated. Throughout the school day, students now come to the principal's office to sew their "medals" or to mediate conflict with or without the support of adults. On the table is the mediator script and on the whiteboard they brainstorm solutions to end the conflict. 

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Mrs. Dorfman sewed the little fleece fabric that remained from the sashes into a neck warmer. 
In just the two weeks since the last peer mediation training, some miraculous moments of students-helping-students have arisen. One pair of younger students in an intractable conflict, who blew out of peer mediation, have since come together in friendship. This week a group of upper-elementary students entered my office and got right to work reading and answering questions. The one peer mediator had no need for adult support and facilitated like a pro. The original peer mediation group from November has started planning a reenactment of their fight and reconciliation to present at an upcoming assembly! They're even including the tiny kindergartener who ran to get me when fists flew. 
A new dimension has arisen: students as supporters in situations other than conflict. For example, when students are struggling with an issue and need to meet with an educator, they are invited to ask a friend or two to join. This intervention bring students "back to earth"; they become more reasonable, realistic, and reconciliatory when friends are present. Perhaps this is effective way of "saving face," which is so necessary for youth. 
Champlain students' gifts come from somewhere. Years of their parents' and teachers' investment to understand and forgive them now shape their participation in helping each other. Thank you for laying the groundwork! It is an honor to watch our children grow and thrive.

1 comment:

  1. love this! Thinking your students might be ready to add some e-textile materials to their badges.