8.6 Guidelines for implementation

In order to successfully implement a peer mediation program in schools, it is necessary to discuss a possible introduction of this method with the principal and teaching staff and gain the approval of the majority of the teaching staff. In several cases, some teachers who were interested in applying peer mediation in their schools started this discussion by informing their colleagues and principals about the concept and the philosophy behind it. Peer mediation is a conflict resolution approach which strongly advocates the competencies of youth and their empowerment to solve problems independently. This, on the other hand, also relieves teachers in their daily work. Teachers should be asked to promote the program by encouraging their students to try to solve potential problems in peer mediation. If possible, an introductory workshop for teaching staff should be offered by external multipliers.

In a next step the students and their parents will be informed.  A good way to present the program is a visit to the mediation club in classes in order to explain the concept themselves. So the younger students get to know the peer mediators in person. Some mediation clubs include short role plays in their presentation. Parents can be informed personally during a parents/teacher meeting or in written form.  Point out the chances and opportunities the program has. Parents of a peer mediator are often proud of their child´s commitment.

Practical steps of the implementation include:

  • Finding a room for the meetings of the mediation club and where mediation can be practiced without interruption, if possible, hang up pictures of the mediation club, a poster etc. so that students feel comfortable. Visualizing of the basic rules for behavior during a mediation and attach  them to the wall
  • Agreeing on a timetable to offer mediation: g. Thursdays in the 5th lesson or once a day during a longer break
  • Forming of mediation teams, who wants to form a team with whom? Is it helpful to create mixed teams (female/male)?
  • Should the peer mediators be recognizable by wearing caps or buttons?
  • Finding ways to “reward” the commitment of the peer mediators, e.g. by a positive remark in the school report

The implementation of a peer mediation program takes time and is sometimes accompanied by phases of standstill. 7)  Then it is important to reflect whether the program receives enough support from the teaching staff, the conditions, e.g. time frame for mediation are still adequate or whether there are other conditions which could be improved.

A central aspect of a successful implementation process of peer mediation is the embedding of mediation as one approach to a concept of conflict culture in a school which also implies preventive measures (teaching of social skills, awareness raising units as described in chapter 6), intervening measures, (cyber) bullying intervention: No Blame Approach, chapter 7) and curative means, e.g. personal counselling by a social worker or school psychologist. A well thought through introduction of a conflict culture in schools will lead to a significant improvement of the school climate.

The principle, teachers and (if possible) representatives of parents should discuss the introduction of these measures of nonviolent conflict resolution as part of the school profile.