The Missouri Reader Vol. 41, Issue 2 - Page 57

Develop, Evaluate, and Implement the Plan

Karl was pointing at the “angry” face on the feelings chart. I walked around the classroom again, and when I came back I heard Michael asking Karl, “If Stewart doesn’t give back your pencil, do you want to borrow one of mine?” I saw a smile on Karl’s face as he said, “Yes,” in agreement. Michael walked Karl back to his desk and handed him his pencil. Even though Karl had Michael’s pencil, Karl did ask for his pencil back from Stewart, and Stewart agreed to the request. Now Karl was calm, had two pencils, and I didn’t have to stop my entire class to handle the situation. It was a success!

I would occasionally provide students with opportunities that would allow them to model how to solve a situation in the classroom. I would read scenario cards like, “You walk into the cafeteria and see a student trip your classmate on purpose. Now your classmate is very upset. What can you say to help your classmate feel better?” We would then discuss as a class what to do and say as the buddy to help the peer.

Success through All the Year

Even the following week my classroom buddies were surprising me with their ability to problem-solve and help their peers through emotional situations. I remember very well one morning when Stewart stormed into the classroom and threw his backpack across the room. (Identify the problem.) I immediately looked at the classroom buddy and he knew just what to do. He walked Stewart over to the cool-down zone and found out what had happened prior to his anger. Unfortunately, an older boy had pushed him in the hallway. (Develop and implement the plan.) The buddy offered to walk with Stewart to the water fountain to get some water and calm down. He also offered to walk with him in the hallway to avoid any potential further negative interactions with other students. (Evaluate the plan.) It was both touching and delightful to see these two second-grade boys helping one another and solving problems on their own Throughout the remainder of the academic year I witnessed countless situations in the classroom that were solved by my students alone. Occasionally, if the situation was serious, such as a physical fight, I would get involved to ensure the students safety and help the classroom buddy mediate.

It was amazing to see how the students were comfortable opening up to their peers and expressing their feelings. It was even more amazing seeing how receptive they were to talking with their peers on how to handle situations. I came to believe Kowalski’s (1989) idea that learning about peer mediation empowers students to deal better with all of life's inevitable conflicts.

It was not a perfect school year, but it was no longer “one of me and twenty seven of them.” I had student buddies who were equipped with the skills and tools to effectively help their peers through emotional situations. Those student buddies were on my side, and they made every day better for me.

References

Carrizales-Engelmann, D. & Merrell, K. W. (2016). Merrell’s strong kids, grades 3-5: a social and emotional learning curriculum. Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing.

Kowalski, K. (1989). Peer mediation success stories. Current Health 2, 25(2), 13.

Tzuriel, D., & Caspi, R. (2017). Intervention for peer mediation and mother-child interaction: The effects on children’s mediated learning strategies and cognitive modifiability. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 49, 302-323.

Toni Henderson is a Pre-K teacher for Cypress Fairbanks ISD. After graduating from Sam Houston State University in December of 2013, she became a teacher for Houston ISD and taught

1st and 2nd grade there for 3 ½ years. Every mentor, coworker, or administrator has taught her something. She watches their best practices and makes them her own. Everything she is as a teacher she owes to those who taught before her.

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Steps in Peer to Peer Problem Solving:

Identify the problem

Develop a plan

Evaluate the plan

Implement the plan.

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