Notes from presentation given at Ananda Shila ETC by Didi Anandarama
For grade 6 students to become peer mediators in resolving their own problems and conflicts.
Mediation is the process where one person(s) tries to resolve a dispute, conflict or fight between two or more parties.Mediation is necessary when a conflict cannot be resolved for a long time or when the disputing parties are not able to resolve it by themselves. The mediation can start when the disputants realize the importance of having the conflict resolved because they are not able to communicate directly because the conflict grows bigger and bigger each time they do. In the school community the mediators are known to all students. They are volunteers and have received special mediation training. They are supervised by one teacher.The mediators may approach the disputing parties and suggest that they resolve their dispute through a mediation process or the parties may approach them for help. The mediators may go between them until they agree on who will be their mediator and on the time and place of meeting. The mediator helps the disputants to regain the ability to reason and bring them to a turning point at which they cease jumping at each other’s throat and wasting time on endless efforts to prove who is right or hurt and beat the opponent. Having both disputing parties want to solve the problem is the most difficult aspect of mediation. But once the mediators help them reach the turning point they let both parties find their own solution together. The solution represents everything the disputing parties have agreed on.  Sample welcome speech of the mediatorMy (our) role is to make sure that each of you shares whatever you are willing to say about the problem, to get equal opportunity to speak and to come up with a solution that will suit both of you best. Mediators don’t take sides or judge either of you.Your role is to tell us what happened, how you feel about it and what you want.Mediation is a process, a journey. You choose the route, you sit at the wheel and I read the map and show you the way to your destination. If you want to get to the coast, and you don’t know the way nor have a map – you will reach your destination if you follow my instructions, observe the traffic rules and really want to get to your destination.

On the way there are many stops and rests, we can quarrel over the directions and even some minor issues – whether to take the right or left turn or whether to continue the journey in the first place. As a mediator I do not have a driving license, but the map tells me which road leads to the coast. You have a driving license, but you don’t know the least thing about navigation. I want to go with you, so I’ll help you by giving you directions. One more thing, imagine the car has one steering wheel and double commands (like cars in driving schools) While one of you is steering the other can suddenly put the brake on or step on the gas pedal when in a bend … whether or not we shall get to our destination safely also depends on both of you.

Stages of Mediation
Stage 1: – IntroductionPreparation: Two persons act as mediators. They arrive at the place of mediation, arrange the seating, provide paper and pencil, have a clock and arrange with each other who will facilitate when. They can plan to have a short break during the negotiations. As a rule, the school-based mediation is conducted without the presence of adults except in the beginning stages a teacher assigned to supervise the mediations at school may be observing.Welcome: When the disputing parties arrive, one mediator will start with a welcome speech (see in the box) and then everyone introduces themselves with first name only.Rules: There are rules for the mediators as well as for the disputants. Both set of rules are written on a poster and displayed on the wall. The mediators introduce the rules and ask if there any questions and whether the disputants accept these rules. If the disputants object the mediators explain that the rules allow everybody to feel safe and protected from insult and humiliation and help them shift from attacking people to attacking the problem.
Rules to Observe During Mediation:

  • 1. Only one person speaks at a time, never two. No interrupting.(one may take notes to remember when his or her turn comes)
  • 2. No name-calling, insults or blaming.
  • 3. Work hard to solve the problem. The purpose of mediation is to reach a mutually satisfying agreement which will be written and each party will get a copy.
  • 4. What happens during a mediation process is confidential except in cases when some illegal actions are revealed. When the process is completed all the notes taken will be destroyed.
Five Rules for Efficient Mediators

  • 1. Do not judge. Mediators are neutral. They do not take sides, even when they think that one disputant is right and the other is wrong.
  • 2. Do not give advice. Sometimes mediators might think of solutions to the disputant’s conflicts. They could see the solution better than those involved. But they should not suggest these solutions. This is the disputants’ conflict and they must resolve it themselves. Only then will they feel responsible for implementing the solution.
  • 3. Be equally empathetic. Mediators attempt to understand what the disputants feel: they put themselves in their shoes and look at the conflict from their perspective. Avoid taking sides, but try to understand how each person views the conflict.
  • 4. Keep confidentiality. Disputants feel more comfortable expressing their feelings and problems when they know that the mediators will not tell anyone about their conflict.
  • 5. Show that you care. Mediators care about the process of mediation and about the people. They try to help the disputants to reach their goal of understanding each other and resolving the conflict. If the mediators respect the mediation process, the disputants will trust that mediation can help them solve their problem.
Stage II – AccountListen to the conflict and check if you got everything right. You may toss a coin to decide which of the disputants will start his or her account of the situation. While one of the disputants speaks one mediator takes notes and gives a summary of what he heard after the disputant finished. The other mediator makes sure there is no interruption from the other side. Then the other disputant speaks and the mediators switch duties. At the end both mediators check whether what they said corresponds with what they heard. It is important that everyone understood what was said.Getting to the shared problem and compiling a list of problems. The two parties agree on the main problem. There can be several different problems and they need to be identified and listed on a board one by one. The mediators can talk in private and consult each others if all the problems are analyzed and if they need to ask more questions. If necessary each mediator can have a private word with one disputing party to see if they are getting close to be ready to talk about the solution(s)Stage III – The problem

Think of possible solutions to the problem. The disputing parties must agree on a clear definition of each problem. Only then can they start seeking a solution for each individual problem. The mediator can suggest which part of the problem can be solved first

Choosing the best solution. Each time a number of solutions to a problem have been suggested the best one is chosen which is also acceptable by both parties. The mediators could help to negotiate and brainstorm solutions. They make sure the solution is considered fair by each side.

Stage IV – Agreement

Defining the implementation of the agreement. For each of the listed solutions that both parties have agreed to, the disputants and the mediators should define who will implement it, in what time frame and how.

Written agreement. A written agreement is drawn up and signed by both parties. The agreement says WHAT has been promised to be done by WHOM, by WHEN, WHERE and HOW MANY TIMES. The agreement may contain a provision on the consequences for those who break it.

After the mediation process. The mediators may write a short report on what has taken place in the mediation process and may keep this report and a copy of the agreement in a safe place with only the teacher in charge of mediation. Another meeting can be fixed where the two parties and mediators will meet to follow up the action on the agreement.

If no agreement can be reached, the mediators have several options:
– talk to each party in private
– suggest a short break or postpone the meeting until the following day
– ask each party if they would prefer another method of solving their problem, such as asking the teacher to make a decision.

Three most frequent ways people behave in a conflict
1. they deny the very existence of the problem
2. they counter-attack (verbally or physically)
3. they try to resolve the problem together as partners
Communication is expressing and receiving.
There are 4 parts to communication:

1. Observation – the concrete actions we are observing that are effecting us
2. Feeling – how we are feeling in relation to what we are observing
3. Need – the values, principles, ideological stands that are creating our feelings
4. Request – the concrete actions we request of others that contribute to us and to our missionExample:
Observation – I do this and that…
Feeling – because I feel …
Need – I stand for (values, my ideology)…
Request – I would like you (to contribute in reasonable ways) to my needs…We receive empathically through the 4 parts:
Observation – I see you do or did this and that ….
Feeling – from your actions I sense you feel …
Need – I know you need (respect, commitment to system and structure) …
Request – I know you want me to contribute to your needs …