In the Daily Life of the School
Friends School of Minnesota’s conflict resolution program has been in operation since the school opened in 1988. Drawing on Quaker commitment to nonviolence, Friends School staff developed the conflict resolution program to actively help children learn alternatives to violence.
Children at Friends School are introduced to the process when they begin kindergarten, and gain problem solving skills through practicing the techniques of the program on a regular basis. Teachers, staff, and parents are trained in the program and so reinforce for the children the commitment the community has made to solving conflicts peacefully.
The conflict resolution program at Friends School uses three elements which are integrated into the daily culture of the school.
Conferences are meetings to address misunderstandings and conflicts between two or more individuals. One half-hour period is available each day for conferences. In a conference an adult facilitator helps individuals listen to each other, identify feelings, and work to come up with a plan to resolve the issue.
"You may think that you are going to hurt your friendship with a friend because you are mad at somebody and you sign up for a conference. Actually, you sign up for a conference because you want to be a better friend." - FSM student
Group gatherings are meetings to address issues affecting a whole community. Each class has a group gathering weekly. The meetings are structured to promote community problem solving. Children feel free to participate because names are not used and the focus is on working together rather than on fault-finding.
Modeling by adults is an important component of the program. When the entire school community uses the same program, it permeates the behavioral and ethical life of the school. Research has shown that student-only programs, such as many peer mediation programs, are not successful in the long run because school-wide commitment to the program is lacking.
Sharing Our Conflict Resolution Experience
Friends School shares its experience with conflict resoultion with other schools by offering
- a training DVD called I-to-I: Integrating Conflict Resolution into the Elementary School Community, an award-winning 35-minute DVD showing the successful conflict resolution program developed and used by Friends School of Minnesota since 1988; Details | Purchase now $22.00
- a training manual, the product of eight years’ use of the program; Details | Purchase now $12.00
- combination package of both the training DVD and manual for one lower price; Purchase now $30.00
- in-person training in the FSM Conflict Resolution Program for half or full day sessions. Includes a copy of I-to-I, training manuals and, if requested, introductory materials for classroom work on conflict resolution;
- consulting with principals, teachers, social workers, parents, and other staff;
- ongoing support and technical assistance; and
- a conflict resolution coloring book (right click to download the PDF, 139K), written and illustrated by FSM 5th grader Patrick Raines.
For more information on training, consulting or support, contact head of school Lili Herbert, by email or phone: 651-917-0636.