10. Implementation

At the end of this Manual we would like to focus on some implementation advices which we learnt through our experimentation in the partner schools.

10.1 Awareness rising and school involvement

The first goal is the active involvement of the whole school community

Our experience with the partner schools demonstrated how important it is to involve effectively the whole school community in the project goals.

It is not an easy task since it requires an high motivation and effort from all the school staff and the stakeholders reference people.

These are our extra-tips based on our implementation experience:

  • Make sure the Head Master and his direct collaborators are highly motivated on the project. On this purpose make sure that the project brings many positive (and visible) outcomes for the school (ex: high visibility on the media, positive reputation towards parents communities…). Without their high motivation the project will not give deep results.
  • Make sure that the teachers and school staff feel understood in their needs and prized in their effort. As far as possible, they should be actively involved in the project planning and appreciated in their competences which may be a value for the project (ex: active participation in previous project on similar topics, finding links between project topics and ordinary school subjects, special personal competences – ex. Multimedia and artistic skills). Avoid to make them feel the project is an other Top-Down project (as often happens).
  • Involve the representative of local communities as local NGO, social and health services, council and state authorities using focus group, media and public events to prize and underline their active involvement.
  • Involve the parents through parents associations, community network, sport associations and any other form of organized gathering which can include the parents.
  • In our experience we could clearly see how Parents are strategical actors in the promotion of the responsible use of digital media; in the same time they are the most difficult to reach and involve so that they may result as a weak point in the digital culture reinforcement process.

10. 2 Mediation club

Right timing for implementation in the schools

In many schools we could see how difficult it is to start the activities at the very start of the school year. A delay in the training start can be acceptable in many kind of project but when we come to “Mediation Club”, which may require a long training, we could realize how important it is to plan it in advance, possible at the end of the previous school year. In fact when the training has been completed too late in the school Year (ex: after the half term) the mediation club did not have enough time to operate and both students and teachers did not have enough time to touch visible outcomes of their activities.

Organize the trainings as early as possible (both multipliers and students ones) so that they can be completed as soon as possible (suggested: within 4 month from school start) and leave enough time for the mediation club to operate.

How to keep high motivation in the peer mediators

  • low number of actual mediations: most of mediation clubs could actually perform much less mediation then expected. This led to negative consequences on two levels:
    – mediators loose motivation
    – mediators could not practice so they loose part of their competences
    – we had no data to evaluate the effectiveness of this tool
  • mediation number should not be the only goal and indicator: it should be stated from the beginning that the number of mediations is not predictable at the beginning. To become fully operative in terms of mediations a mediation club may need up to 3 or 5 years (German Experience).
  • Other indicators should be considered as skills and competences acquired by partecipants and improving of general school climate
  • mediation club should have several different tasks: as a consequence of previous point it is important that the mediation club keep meeting on regular base after training even if there are lower or no mediations. They should therefore have different task as creative production, more role games,  discuss  cyberbullying cases with teachers and head masters…
  • head-master should promote strongly the mediation club through all teachers community
  • teachers support actions:  teachers leading the mediations club should be supported through further workshops, online tools, and experience’s exchange with other teacher in order to keep motivated, improve strategies and get through difficult problems

10.3 N.B.A.

Avoid misunderstandings about “Punishment Abolition”

In some countries and/or schools we found at the beginning a resistance to accept the core values of the N.B.A. approach. Specially we realized that some schools get the message that the N.B.A. method means “No Punishment” or “Punishment Abolition” and they find this unacceptable.

In fact this is not really neither a request nor a goal of the project. The Punishment are still possible and needed in some cases. The method aims instead to reduce the use Punishment and specially the public “Blame” of guilty students. But the main goal is not related to it but to the change in the behavior of the class group, including the main actors of the aggressive behaviours, promoting positive, pro-social and responsible behaviours  which can effectively improve the well-being of all the class members therefore prevent and reduce furthers negative conflicts among students.

To avoid  this misunderstanding we found very useful to make very clear this point  from very beginning with all the project stakeholders. In some cases we also find very effective to change the name of the method as happened in the UK where the name N.B.A. is not in use anymore for these very reasons (avoid useless misunderstaings). The name actually in use in UK is “Support group approach”).

Strategies to keep high motivation from teachers

  • low number of cases: in a single school year the trained teachers may have little chance to apply the N.B.A. technics since the bullying and cyberbulling cases may be (fortunately) few or none. In some cases (but not always) this led to small chance for the teachers to touch/see the benefits of this method and keep motivated.
  • therefore we suggest that the N.B.A. method should be used also as PREVENTION tool, when the teacher see the signals of a potential bullying situation. In this way they will have more chance to test the approach and keep trained and motivated (plus adding the extra-value of a prevention tool, which we could touch in the school where we test the N.B.A. as a prevention tool).
  • a wider range of prevention and intervention tools should be provided to teachers to enable them to act in diverse situations. One example is the well known technic of  “circle time” as a prevention tool that helps class to discuss together problems and personal needs before they can lead to deeper conflicts.
  • teachers support actions:  to keep motivated and updated we suggest that teachers involved in the N.B.A. approach should be supported through further workshops, online tools, and experience’s exchange with other teacher in order to see the results from the collegues experiences, keep motivated, improve strategies and get through difficult problems. Building local networks between the schools that join these activities and experimentation is highly suggested.