Program Director Emily Linnemeier recounts her series of trainings at the Santa Monica Alternative School house.
During the Spring Semester, I had the pleasure of training 22 fifth, sixth, and seventh grade students, two staff members, and a parent at the Santa Monica Alternative School House (SMASH) in conflict resolution and peer mediation. SMASH was able to support the training through a generous grant received from Kids Managing Conflict, the Southern California Mediation Association Educational Foundation.
The 15-hour training took the students through concepts and tools for analyzing conflicts and understanding the underlying needs involved, different approaches to conflict, emotions management, communication skills of active listening and communication without judgement, and the processes of negotiation and mediation. Every Friday these dedicated students willingly spent their lunch hour learning and practicing. Next school year they will start mediating their schoolmates, helping them to resolve conflicts they have with one another.
Not only were they eager to learn, they were adept with the skills, too. The first mock mediation they practiced seemed like they’d been doing it for years. I felt really lucky to work with these amazing students who are committed to enhancing their school’s positive climate.
The students had this to say about the experience:
"I learned a lot about solving problems."
"Peer mediation is very helpful to me because it teaches how to solve conflicts. The teacher that I have is nice. I wish that more people in the world could learn it because that would be a step forward to world peace."
"I believe it was an awesome experience and I learned a lot over the weeks. I learned new skills that are very helpful."