New Editors Selected for 3rd Edition CRE Activity Calendar

We are pleased to announce a new editorial team for the 3rd Edition of our popular Conflict Resolution Education Activity Calendar. Selected via a competitive application process, the 3rd Edition will be co-edited by Marina Piscolish (Hawaii, Mapping Change, LLC) and Kathy Wian (University of Delaware, Conflict Resolution Program) with support from Susan Young (Hawaii), Regina McCarthy (Pittsburgh, PA) and several others. The team will curate the content of the calendar, working with submissions from contributors (see submission form here) and newly developed content as needed. The theme for the 2011-2012 edition will include a focus on the relationship between conflict resolution practices and health and wellness.

Marina Piscolish was originally a secondary teacher of social studies, who later earned a doctorate in Education from University of Pittsburgh focused on critical democracy in school systems and in reform efforts. Upon moving to Delaware in 1993, she created the first CR Center at the University of Delaware, still in operation today. Originally called the Program on Conflict Resolution in Education, it later expanded to serve other sectors and dropped education from its title, while education remained a heavy focus of its work. Currently in private practice in Hawaii, Piscolish teaches Conflict Resolution for Educators at the University of Hawaii.

Kathy Wian is the Director of the Conflict Resolution Program (CRP) at the Institute for Public Administration at the University of Delaware. For the past 16 years, CRP has provided a variety of conflict resolution services to teachers, administrators, school boards, parents, advocates and students. They have conducted workshops focused on shared decision making, strategic change, peer mediation, conflict resolution, and collaborative meetings to name a few. CRP also manages Delaware’s statewide special education mediation program and the statewide IEP meeting facilitation program. More information on the Conflict Resolution Program that Wian directs is available online at http://www.ipa.udel.edu/crp/

Evidence-Based, Nonpunitive Alternatives To Zero Tolerance

A March 2011 research brief by Child Trends entitled “Multiple Responses, Promising Results: Evidence-Based, Nonpunitive Alternatives To Zero Tolerance,” suggests that zero tolerance school discipline policies have not been proven effective by research and may have negative effects, making students more likely to drop out and less likely to graduate on time. Instead, the brief recommends the use of nonpunitive disciplinary action, such as behavior interventions, social skills classes, and character education.

The brief is free and available online.

The Term Bullying Has Little Resonance with Teens

Danah Boyd has written a very insightful piece on how teens experience conflict and how the term “bullying” is not working well in terms of connecting with them. A case example is provided of two girls (Janiya and Precious) who have a conflict that is long-standing and unresolved. It is definitely worth reading. As she note in the concluding paragraph:

Combating bullying is not going to be easy, but it’s definitely not going to happen if we don’t dive deep in the mess that underpins it and surrounds it. Lectures by uncool old people like me aren’t going to make teens who are engaged in dramas think twice about what they’re doing. And, for that matter, using the term “bullying” is also not going to help at all either. We need interventions that focus on building empathy, identifying escalation, and techniques for stopping the cycles of abuse. We need to create environments where young people don’t get validated for negative attention and where they don’t see relationship drama as part of normal adult life. The issues here are systemic.

Interviews from CRETE Partners Meeting

The higher education institutional partners working with the CRETE project met in Austin at St. Edwards University March 4-5, 2010. I interviewed some of the folks in attendance and put together a podcast episode that provides a window into some of the many ways the CRETE program is being implemented. You can listen to the Conflict Learning Audio podcast online here, or subscribe via iTunes.

No Name Calling Week 2010

The seventh annual No Name-Calling Week (NNCW) is in full swing! Thousands of educators are leading their students through educational and creative activities aimed at ending name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools. If you haven’t already, it’s not too late to conduct NNCW activities in your school. Some simple ways to celebrate are developing an anti-name-calling classroom policy or screening a student-made anti-bullying video. For more tips and ideas, visit the NNCW Resources page.

Another way to participate in NNCW is to engage your students in creating artwork that they can enter into the Creative Expression Contest. This year’s Creative Expression Contest is divided into three categories:

· Primary School (Grades K – 5)
· Middle School (Grades 6 – 8)
· High School (Grades 9 – 12)

The deadline for submissions is Friday, February 26.

Over 5,000 NNCW fans are talking about name-calling and bullying on the NNCW Facebook page. Join the conversation on Facebook and talk with other educators participating in NNCW to share tips and ideas.

Visit http://www.nonamecallingweek.org to register for updates, download free lessons and planning tips, and learn more about this year’s Creative Expression Contest.

Opportunity to Help Develop New Program Degrees

I read about the great opportunity to assist in the creation of a “How to” manual on key topics in the development or expansion process for degree or certificate programs in Conflict, Peace or Justice Studies. The manual is a work in progress and is currently being shared electronically as a series of pdf downloads in this section of the website:
http://creducation.org/index.php/goto/ccps

The piece is a working document and we are looking for contributions of Chapters for the manual. If you have direct experience in in topics such as: Credit vs. Non-credit courses, Strategies For Faculty Development, Career Options for Students, Developing a Traditional Academic Program- or any one of the topics listed in the article, please see the contributors guide (chapter outlines and descriptions) for additional information on how to contribute a Chapter at:
http://snipurl.com/contributorsguide

Teachers.tv videos reveal the challenges facing NQTs (Newly Qualified Teachers)

Teachers.tv, the U.K-based education support website has a number of videos that follow two brand new teachers as they work their way through their first year of instruction at inner-city schools in London. A good resource for talking with pre-service teachers about issues they may face, and perhaps a motivator to encourage students to take CRETE workshop training seriously as part of their preparation for teaching service.

The first video in the series, entitled Early Days, introduces us to the teachers and their backgrounds, and explores issues like preparing the classroom and dealing with pre-term nerves.

Of particular relevance for CRETE folks is the second video on Managing Behavior that explores some of the real difficulties these two NQTs (Newly Qualified Teachers) are having as they start to work with their classes.

Next in the series is Settling In wherein the new teachers do some assessment regarding how they are doing at the mid-term break. They worry about the stress and it’s impacts.

We stay with the same teachers (Tara and Rosie) for another episode entitled Work/Life Balance where we learn more about the ups and downs of their experience.

Safe Schools Ambassadors Help Keep the Peace on Campus

Edutopia has a nice overview of a program focused on reducing bullying and violence on school campuses. The program, known as Safe School Ambassadors, enlists students, who after training, work more or less anonymously to discourage bad behavior among their peers. You can read more about it here. A video from the Today Show features one Florida school’s implementation of the program.

County-wide Peer Mediation Training funded by American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

As a result of funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Community Action Partnership of Riverside County’s Dispute Resolution Center has been able to affect more than 30 schools in Riverside County (California – Palm Springs area) by making peer mediation training available. A story with details about the initiative appears in The Desert Sun. Dana Crawford-Lofton is program manager of the Dispute Resolution Center. E-mail her at dlofton@capriverside.org

PROS – Peaceful Resolutions for Oklahoma Students Training Materials

I have come across a great teaching tool from a state-wide peer mediation project that provides training manuals. The project is called [url=http://www.oscn.net/static/adr/pros.aspx]PROS – Peaceful Resolutions for Oklahoma Students[/url]. The project is being administered collaboratively by the The Law-Related Education Division of the Oklahoma Bar Association and the Early Settlement Programs administered by the Supreme Court of Oklahoma, Administrative Office of the Courts. The goal of the project is to train school representatives, including students, from around Oklahoma to develop a peer mediation program in the school they represent. The training manuals may also be utilized to provide training to staff. In addition to the staff manuals, included is a separate manual for Elementary students and a manual for Middle/High School students. The information provided is both instructional and informational and includes a vocabulary review, activities, games, work sheets, scripts for role plays and discussion and observer forms. Also included in the manual are mediation forms to help guide students on how to develop a peer mediation program.

The links to the pdf versions of the manuals are listed below:

[url=http://www.oscn.net/static/adr/Documents/PROSElementaryManual.pdf]Elementary Manual[/url]

[url=http://www.oscn.net/static/adr/Documents/PROSElementaryStudentEdition.pdf]Elementary Student Edition[/url]

[url=http://www.oscn.net/static/adr/Documents/PROSMiddleHighManual.pdf]Middle/High School Manual[/url]

[url=http://www.oscn.net/static/adr/Documents/PROSMiddle-HighStudentEdition.pdf]Middle/High Student Edition[/url]

Tennessee’s Annual Character Education and Conflict Resolution Report

Administrators working in the field might be interested in reports generated in Tennessee where each year the Commissioner of Education reports on CRE work in the schools. Here’ an excerpt from the Tennessee Office of School Safety and Learning Support that describes the approach and links to a recent report.

“Tenn. Code Ann. §49-2-118 and Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-6-1007 provide that the Commissioner of Education shall annually report to the General Assembly regarding the implementation of conflict resolution and character education programs in Tennessee schools. Below you will find our reports for the 2006-2007 school year.

Character education and conflict resolution programs support the social, emotional and moral development of our students while addressing the negative behaviors, attitudes and beliefs that frequently serve as a barrier to learning. The preceding report provides an overview of the nature and extent of these programs in schools across the state.

Questions regarding the report may be directed to Laura Nichols by phone at (615) 741-3248 or via email to laura.nichols@tn.gov.

(SY 2007-2008) Included in the Safe and Supportive Schools: An Annual Report from the Office of School Safety and Learning Support
(SY 2006-2007) Annual Character Education and Conflict Resolution Report

High School Peer Mediation in the News

Schenectady High School in upstate New York was featured in a recent news story exploring how mediation is part of a broader “incident reduction plan” enacted by the district. As noted in the story, “Of the 260 cases mediated last year, 216 reached a successful resolution.” Read more about it here.

Teachings Revolving Door problem

A recent article in Rethinking Schools focuses attention on the ongoing problem of teachers leaving the profession within 3-5 years of starting. The article entitled Teachings Revolving Door points to a number of different explanations for the problem, and as Conflict Resolution in Education advocates know, classroom conflict and management challenges is one of these drivers. Clearly, we need to work on many levels to improve the situation, including helping to prepare new teachers with realistic and practical skills for handling challenging situations. The costs to young people, especially in urban schools, is particularly high, as they most often end up with the most inexperienced teachers due to the revolving door. But, as school administrators know, lack of teacher retention has costs in other ways as well. As the article points out, “Nationwide, teacher turnover costs $7.3 billion a year, according to the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future. In some districts, the costs are shockingly high. In Milwaukee, the average cost per teacher who left was $15,325, according to the commission. In Chicago, the average cost was $17,872, with the total cost to the district about $86 million per year.” Conflict Resolution in Education is part of the solution, but only if we continue to extend the work and make sure it remains relevant to the actual conditions teachers face as they begin their careers.