8.7 Mediation training curriculum

The following planning describes a mediation training of 30 hours organised in 10 units for schools. Depending on the facilitation possibilities and venues, the training can also be held in 4 days (e.g during a project week in school) or at 3 weekends, whatever is possible. In these units, you will have a start and ending session which takes time and you will have less of this if you have whole day – workshops for instance.  Feel free to organise breaks and energizers when it is needed according to the group and the exercise. The timing is calculated for a group of 10 to 16 participants in order to give you an orientation.

8.7.1 Coming together and building a group

Exercise, handout number Time Method Material
Welcome, introduction 10 min Circle Prepared flipchart with welcome
Partner interview, mutual presentation
Optional – if the students don´t know each other well
30 min Name, hobbies, motivation to participate in the project, any experiences with conflict resolution techniques? Student pairs interview each other
Expectations and “rules” 20 min +
10 min
Division into groups of 4, expectations, fears, contribution – 2 cards for each field, presentation; 6 cards in 3 colours per group, candies to find the members of the group
 The three musketeers and conflicts  35 min Exchange their perception of conflicts concerning the facts
afterwards: exchange in whole group
Groups of 3 students
Copies of handout 2
What do you associate when you hear “conflict”?  10 min Closed eyes – perception – exercise of a conflict Facilitators note associations on flipchart
Evaluation 10 min Closed eyes – perception – exercise of a conflict Ball to throw or “talking stone” to pass around

Handout 2: The three musketeers and conflicts


30 min


Participants will view conflicts from different perspectives and will compare their personal attitudes with those of the other group members. The aim is to realize that conflicts are two faceted: they are disliked and might cause fear but on the other hand they offer a potential for development.


copies of the form for each subgroup, pens

Instruction for implementation:

The facilitators ask the students to split up in groups of three and discuss the different perceptions of conflict. The next step will be to find common answers and note them on the paper. Afterwards the groups exchange their results in the plenary.

Evaluation procedure: The facilitators will underline the two faceted characters of conflicts.

These are three aspects of conflicts we all dislike:

These are three aspects of conflicts that scare us:

These are three aspects of conflicts we find interesting or even exciting:

8.7.2 Learning about conflict

Exercise, handout number Time Method material
Opening session 10 min Exchange in a circle – what has happened since our last meeting regarding conflicts?
 Conflict definition 10 min Brainstorming of the students and then presentation of the Glasl definition Copies
Guideline conflict styles 40 min Self-assessment: How do you handle conflicts? Understanding of behavior patterns Copies
Types of conflict 15 min Copies
Conflict escalation model 15-30 min Copies
Evaluation 5 min

Handout 3: Conflict definition

 At two who interact

There is a difference in goals, values, interests, needs, perceptions, ideas, resources

Negative emotions arise

At least one person is hindered in what he/she wants to achieve.


  • Katharina Schilling, Peacebuilding and conflict resolution – Methods and games to facilitate training sessions, 2012, p. 99

Handout 4: Guideline conflict styles

Self-assessment: How do you handle conflicts?



40 minutes


In order to understand behavior patterns of other persons (students) in a conflict situation it is helpful to reflect one´s own conflict behavior. How do the participants handle conflicts?  Is a direct confrontation preferred or other strategies (e.g. avoidance, distraction, finding compromises)?


Flipchart and markers

Instruction for implementation:

The facilitators/trainers  inform the participants  that they  will introduce an exercise reflecting different conflict behavior patterns.  There are five different personal types which are symbolized by animal metaphors:

Tiger –  Attack
A tiger stands for an attitude which wants to discuss problems right away. Being strong and self- confident the tiger puts things on the table, attacks rather than withdraws. His attitude can be challenging or even frightening to others.

Dog  –  Defense
A dog symbolizes someone who defends himself and tries to justify his or her own behavior without really listening or trying to understand the other position.

Mouse   –  Escape
A mouse prefers to escape potentially dangerous situations. She will hide in her mousehole until the storm is over. The conflict strategy is to avoid or flee.

Fox    – Distraction
A fox represents an attitude of distraction in a conflict situation. The fox doesn´t comment the problem but rather brings up another issue or tries to involve other persons to change the focus of the given situation.

Owl- Reconciliation
An owl is able to turn her head completely thus seeing everything and valuing all parties in a conflict. She tries to build bridges, to encourage conversation and find compromises. She doesn´t take sides.

The trainers ask the participants to choose an animal which reflects their own patterns, not to a hundred percent but as the main characteristic. Form working groups according to the animal identification.  Ask the participants to brainstorm advantages and disadvantages of the specific conflict type.

The working groups meet for appr.  20 minutes, afterward the facilitators collect the results on a flipchart.

Evaluation procedure: Participants will be encouraged to discuss whether there is an optimal strategy how to deal with conflicts and will discover that each behavior pattern offers chances but has also traps. The position of the owl is representative of an attitude which tries to see both sides of a conflict.


  • The categories are based on V. Satir, in Claude Helene Mayer, Trainingshandbuch Interkulturelle Mediation und Konfliktlösung, 2006

Handout 5: Types of conflict

Conflicts over information and priorities

  • Are not sufficiently informed.
  • Have different opinions/ priorities concerning facts or data.
  • Got the wrong information.
  • Different sets of criteria.

Conflicts of interest

  • Have different interests and needs.
  • Experience assumed or actual competition
  • Try to enlarge their personal power.

Relationship conflicts

  • Experience strong positive or negative feelings with regard to another student.
  • Don´t communicate appropriately anymore .
  • Don´t listen to each other.
  • Develop false perceptions or prejudices.

Values conflicts

  • Have different values and norms.
  • Pursue differing goals.
  • Represent differing lifestyles, basic convictions, religious views, ideologies, values…

Structural conflicts

  • Show destructive patterns in their behavior and interaction.
  • Have different personal or social resources.
  • There is an imbalance of power and authority.

  • Bensberger Studien 18, Anders streiten lernen, Konflikte schlichten in der Sekundarstufe, 2010, p.11, revised by Beate Roggenbuck

Handout 6: Conflict escalation model

9 stages of conflict escalation – Background information for trainers
The Dynamics of Escalation in Conflicts

Friedrich Glasl defines nine stages of conflict escalation to describe the dynamics of escalation.

A central task within the framework of constructively dealing with conflicts is to compare signs of escalation in conflict with the various stages of de-escalation and find answers and potential for action at all stages, in order to limit violence or prevent it altogether and achieve cooperation and solutions for negotiation. Sensitivity and a realistic perception of what is happening in the conflict are just as important as consciously rethinking and planning one’s own steps.

The Nine Stages of Conflict Escalation according to Friedrich Glasl

  1. Hardening
    Standpoints harden and take on a collision course. Awareness of the impending impact leads to agitation. Despite this, the conviction still remains that tension can be dissipated through discussion. The parties or positions are still flexible.
  1. Debate
    Polarisation of thought, emotion and will take place. Thinking in terms of black and white occurs along with a viewpoint of superiority and inferiority.
  1. Actions, not Words
    The idea that ‘talking no longer helps’ and the strategy of fait accompli gains in importance. Empathy for the ‘other side’ diminishes, and the danger of wrong interpretations grows.
  1. Images/Coalitions
    Rumors spread, stereotypes and clichés are formed. The parties manoeuvre each other into negative positions and fight. A search for supporters takes place.
  1. Loss of face
    Open and direct aggression (unlawful) ensues which aims to cause the opponent to lose face.
  1. Strategies of threats
    Threats and counter threats increase. Escalation of the conflict accelerates due to ultimatums.
  1. Limited attempts to overthrow the opponent
    The opponent is no longer viewed as a person.
    Limited attempts to overthrow the opponent are seen as a ‘fitting’ and carried out. Reversal of values: relatively slight personal damage is seen as a victory.
  1. Dissipation
    The destruction and dissolution of the hostile system are pursued intensively as a goal.
  1. Together into the abyss
    Total confrontation ensues and there is no way back. Extermination of the opponent at the price of self-extermination is seen and accepted.

Conflict escalation model adapted for students: Until the bitter end
  1. The guy/girl is getting on my nerves – tension
    He/she is staring at me. He/she talks behind my back. I can´t stand him/her.
  1. I should talk with him/her – first verbal attacks
    I will talk to him but not listen anymore. I´m not putting up with anything anymore.
    I think about his/her bad sides and talk to others about them.
  1. I´ll show it to him/her – actions, not words
    I will show him/her what I am able to do. He/she is going to remember that.
    I will teach him/her a lesson
  1. I will look for friends and supporters – enemy images and allies
    I will involve my friends. I will draw others who are impartial on my side.
    I am completely innocent, he/she started.
  1. I will embarrass him/her – loss of face
    I will arrange embarrassing situations. I will put him/her down in front of others.
    I spread rumors about him/her.
  1. If I catch you I will… – threats
    I think about something mean. I threaten him/her.
  1. I will wear him/her down – limited strikes
    I carry out my threats. I just want him/her lying on the ground.
  1. I can´t retreat anymore – destruction
    I don´t listen to others anymore. Too much has happened so I can´t give up.
  1. The bitter end – together into the abyssWe successfully destroyed each other. The costs were high but we made it. I don´t really remember what it was all about in the beginning but – I didn´t give up because at the end it was all his/her fault.

  • Jamie Walker (Ed.), Mediation in der Schule, 2005, p. 171 Bensberger Studien 18,  Anders streiten lernen, 2010, p.11

8.7.3 Principles of win-win

Exercise, handout number Time Method material
Opening session 10 min Exchange in a circle – what has happened since our last meeting regarding conflicts?
The orange conflict: different options to solve a conflict 15 min Raising questions about options in order to solve the conflict Orange, flipchart, copy
Optional: donkeys 10 min Raising questions about options in order to solve the conflict picture
Role play: 2 strategies to solve a conflict 20 min Groups of 3, 2 rounds role play, plenary Scenario of a simple conflict. Instruction: role play 1: students quarrel, teacher decides
Role play 2: students quarrel, will be sent to a mediator
Principles of a peer mediation 20 min Plenary Copy
Attributes of the mediator 15 min Group discussion – what is needed for good listening? Brainstorming Copy
Skills of a student mediator 15 min exercise Copy
Good and bad listening – mini role play 15 min exercise Facilitators/teachers will demonstrate good/bad listening in a mini role play
Evaluation 10 min

Handout 7: The orange conflict


10 minutes


This exercise aims at pointing out the advantages of a process which tries to understand the motivation of parties in a conflict. Normally we are thinking in categories of win-lose, either-or or come up with a typical compromise. But sometimes there is a solution beyond these possibilities: a win-win solution.


Flipchart No. 1, (flipchart samples see additional material)

Instruction for implementation:

The facilitators describe a conflict between siblings:

“Two sisters are having a conflict over an orange. Unfortunately, there is only one orange left and the shops are closed.  Their mother hears their shouting, opens the door and asks her daughters what is going on. Both girls insist on wanting the whole fruit.”

What can be done? The facilitators invite the participants to brainstorm different solutions and note them on a flipchart. Possibly options 1 – 4 will be mentioned, the facilitators add option 5 in order to exemplify a win – win solution.

Option 1: The mother cuts the orange in half (typical compromise).

Option 2: The mother gives the orange to girl A (win – lose).

Option 3: The mother gives the orange to girl B (win-lose).

Option 4: Neither girl gets the fruit. (lose-lose).

Option 5: The mother asks why her daughters want the orange and finds out that girl A wants to eat the fruit, girl B wants to bake a cake and needs the skin.  (win-win)

Alternative:  use the example of a pumpkin (flesh inside to make a soup, skin to carve a Halloween face).

Evaluation procedure: The facilitators ask the participants why option 5 is different than the other possibilities. What has the mother done instead of coming up with a spontaneous reaction? They point out the advantage of looking behind a position in order to identify the needs of the parties.


Handout 7B: The orange conflict

7 HO WSmediation_B_donkeys

Handout 8: Principles of the mediation process

There are four decisive principles of the mediation process:

  1. Voluntariness
    The parties participate on a voluntary basis. A forced participation can hinder the process of opening up. Students and mediators have the right to stop the process.
  2. Confidentiality
    What is said during the mediation is treated confidentially by all partners involved (students and mediators).  However, the mediators can ask the students whether they can discuss the case on the basis of anonymity with mentoring teachers.
  3. Individual responsibility
    The parties discuss and develop their own solution. Mediators’ don´t dictate a solution.
  4. Impartiality
    Mediators are impartial. They don´t take sides and assure that both parties have an equal opportunity to express himself/herself. If a mediator cannot guarantee his/her neutrality anymore (e.g. because he/she is a friend of a party), he/she should ask a colleague to take over.
Role of mediators

As mediators, you offer your help and assistance to other students to moderate a talk between two conflicting parties.

The mediators are responsible for the process of the meeting but not for the outcome.

The mediators underline that it is the task of the parties to find a solution and that they are the “experts” of their problem.

Mediators are not judges and don´t take sides. They are impartial through the whole process.

Principles of nonviolent conflict resolution

Conflicts are normal

Conflicts arise wherever people come together. We cannot avoid conflicts – but we can treat our conflict partners with respect and solve our conflicts without violence.

Different truths

People experience the same conflict very differently – everyone has their own version of the truth. It is important to accept the other person’s truth.

Solving conflicts cooperatively

No one is to blame for the conflict. We have a common problem and we will look for a common solution. In order to find the solution, we need to take a step back from the positions of the individuals to discover the underlying feelings, needs, and interests.

Solving conflicts creatively

The best solution is not always a compromise. Sometimes it is possible to resolve a conflict in such a way that both or all conflict parties are satisfied.

Handout 9: Attributes of a peer mediation in schools

  • The mediation is conducted by peers
  • Mediators are impartial
  • Voluntariness
  • Conflict parties are present
  • Parties agree to communication rules
  • Mutual empathy is encouraged
  • Respectful dialogue
  • Watch the inner dialogue: how did each party contribute to the escalation of the conflict?
  • Mediators don´t blame the parties
  • No one-sided solutions
  • A written contract

  • Bensberger Studien 18, Anders streiten lernen, 2010, p. 25, revised by Beate Roggenbuck

Handout 10: Skills of a mediator


15 minutes


By answering the questionnaire the participants think about skills a mediator should have in order to build up trust and reliability. It is a low threshold activity, easy to conduct.



Instruction for implementation:

Copies of the questionnaire are passed around, the trainers ask the participants to mark the skills a peer mediator should have with a cross, then turn to his/her neighbor and compare the results. After the exchange in pairs, the facilitators start a wrap up in the plenary, asking for controversial assessments and discussing them. It is helpful to also have a look at the handout “principles of a mediation process”.

Questionnaire:  Peer mediators should…

  • be able to contain themselves
  • get good grades
  • talk a lot
  • have empathy with other students
  • come up with a lot of proposals for a solution
  • be popular with the teachers
  • not blame the parties
  • be able to handle the situation confidentially
  • take the participating students seriously
  • interrupt verbal aggressions
  • keep eye contact with both parties
  • ask for the feelings during the conflict and in the present situation
  • inform the teacher in case of criminal behavior
  • find out who started the conflict
  • be able to listen carefully
  • be neutral

Evaluation procedure:

The participants will be asked to judge how familiar they feel with the mindset of a mediator: e.g. impartiality, non-judgmental, equal treatment of both parties. The activity is one step to lay down the attitude of a mediator.


  • Jamie Walker, Mediation in der Schule, p.177, complemented by Beate Roggenbuck

8.7.4 Introduction of mediation phases

Exercise, handout number Time Method Materials
Opening session 20 min Recap and open questions
Active listening exercise 30 min Groups of 3 Copy
Preparation of the mediation (room, setting, time) 10 min Plenary
Introduction of 5 phases 10 min Plenary Copy
Phase 1 introduction 30 min Plenary: short introduction
Working groups: find your own phrases for the introduction
Evaluation 10 min

HO 11: Active listening


20 minutes


Participants experience actively and passively what it means to be a good listener by slipping into the roles of the talking person, the listening person and the observer.


a large room to avoid mutual disturbances, three questions for the participants, flipchart

Instruction for implementation:

The facilitators ask the participants to form groups of three and to sit in the shape of a triangle. There will be three rounds with changing roles A, B and C. Person A will talk about a topic raised by the trainers e.g. “Tell us something about your last vacation.”  Person B will listen actively and person C will observe. Time duration: approximately 3 minutes. A short feedback round will follow and person C will share his/her observations. What was well done, what can be improved?

The participants will switch roles after every round and repeat the process with a new question.

Evaluation procedure: The subgroups get together in the plenary again and share their experiences and findings. One trainer summarizes key findings: What are elements of good, active listening? on the flipchart. Distribute the worksheet Active listening and explain the three levels of summarizing.


Handout 12: The five phases of school mediation

  1. Opening statement
  • Greet the disputants and introduce yourself
  • Explain the role of the mediator: assure the parties that you will maintain confidentiality, remain impartial and support them in their search for solutions to the conflict
  • Explain how you will proceed
  • Agree on ground rules
  • Get their go-ahead for beginning the process
  1. Viewpoints and issues: How does each party view the conflict?
  • Who wants to begin?
  • Ask each party to relate the conflict from their viewpoint
  • Reflect back, summarize and ask questions
  • Make sure the rules are adhered to
  • Emphasize what the parties have in common and where they  differ
  1. Understanding the conflict
  • Motivate the disputants to make “I-statements”
  • Concentrate on the feelings, needs and interests involved
  • Express the mood of the moment
  • Support direct communication between the parties
  1. Looking for possible solutions: Who can offer what?
  • Brainstorm possible solutions and write them down
  • Read the solutions out loud
  • Check the ideas: are they realistic? fair? appropriate? specific enough?
  1. Agreement and closing
  • The parties agree to a common solution
  • Write up the agreement
  • Have the parties sign the agreement and give them copies
  • Arrange for a follow-up session in 1-2 weeks
  • Thank the parties for their cooperation and wish them well

  • Jamie Walker (Ed.), Mediation in der Schule, Berlin 2005, p. 179

Handout 13: Starting the mediation process/Introduction

The peer mediators welcome the students, ask them to sit down and introduce themselves. Tea/ juice and cookies might be offered.

The peer mediators explain their role and task in this process:

  • Mediators are responsible for facilitating the process
  • Mediators are neutral/don´t take sides and support the conflicting parties to develop their own solutions
  • The students can rely on the confidentiality of the mediators

Mediators give an overview of the course of a mediation process

  • Each party has a chance to explain his or her view of the conflict
  • What is the personal significance of the conflict/ What is the background?
  • Mediators enhance communication and mutual understanding
  • Mediators support the parties to look for a fair solution
  • Both parties sign a written agreement describing the common solution

Rules of discussion during the mediation

  • Students don´t interrupt each other, if necessary the other person can take notes
  • No insults
  • Both parties agree to listen to each other.
  • What is said during the mediation is confidential.

Mediators ask the participants for their go-ahead.


  • It is helpful to hang up a poster with the rules.
  • It is also helpful to prepare moderation cards with the different aspects in order not to forget anything.

  • Training material Jamie Walker, revised by Beate Roggenbuck

8.7.5 Introduction of role plays and application

Exercise, handout number Time Method Materials
Opening session 15 min Recap of feedback rules and repeating of phase 1
 Checklist for observers 5 min Plenary Copy
Checklist of a mediation role play 5 min Plenary Copy
Phase 2: Viewpoints and issues –Role play 1+2 40 min Phase 2: Viewpoints and issues –Role play 1+2 (HO 16) Role play cards
Quit the role of the play 5 min Plenary: importance of quitting the role, let´s shake the body
Evaluation of the role play 10 min Plenary: sharing of the observers of the different groups
Energizer 10 min
Evaluation 10 min Plenary

Handout 14: Checklist for observers of role plays

Observers of a mediation role play take notes of the process and contribute constructive feedback during the reflection phase. Observers concentrate on:

Concerning the mediators:

The phases of the mediation

  • Appropriate, helpful moderation of the phases?
  • Was anything left out or neglected/forgotten?
  • Could anything improve the moderation?

Body language and impartiality of the mediators

  • Were the mediators able to express interest in the parties by body language
  • Were both parties equally considered (eye contact, open, friendly body language)?
  • Did both parties get an equal share of contributions?

Helpful remarks/ questions

  • What were helpful, opening phrases or questions?
Concerning the participating parties
  • Did you have the feeling that the parties were able to express their point of view?
  • What kind of behavior did you notice (parties opening up, showing feelings, becoming angry etc.)?
  • Did you observe that the parties were able to take a change of perspectives?
  • Anything else?

Handout 15: Worksheet: Evaluation of a mediation role play

After the mediation role play the trainer moderates the evaluation.

Firstly, the mediators are asked:

  • What went well during the mediation role play? Do you have the feeling that you were able to support the process?
  • Did you feel insecure at any time during the process?
  • What was difficult? What would you like to improve?

Secondly, the parties are asked:

  • How do you feel now? Has the conflict been solved?
  • What were helpful interventions/ phrases?
  • Did you feel understood by the mediators?
  • Anything else, you would like to mention, e.g. ideas how the mediators could have supported you more?

Thirdly, the observers give feedback.
After the evaluation the trainer asks the participants to let go of the role, e.g. by taking of the name tags and actively stepping out of the role.
The group collects difficult situations during the role play on a flipchart and discusses possible alternatives.

Hanouts 16: Viewpoints and issues: How does each party view the conflict?

Who begins?
The mediators ask the parties who wants to begin explaining his/her point of view. Sometimes it makes sense to ask the less active person to begin, in some cases when the parties cannot agree who can talk first to throw a coin.

The parties take turns explaining their viewpoints and issues
The parties have the chance to describe their points of view and are supported by the mediators by using the following skills:

Repeat, summarize and ask (Active listening)
The mediators repeat the crucial points and summarize what has been said. Anything they didn´t understand should be questioned again in order to make sure that they understand the parties point of view. (E.g. Can you please explain … again? or I didn´t fully understand … or From your point of view … happened. Am I right or did I misunderstand?)

Mediators pay attention that the rules are adhered to
Mediators have to insist that the rules of communication are respected, e.g. not to interrupt each other or to call each other names.
“Please wait a second until it is your turn.”
“No name calling during the mediation, we all agreed to accept this rule.”
In a case of a heated situation where the parties have difficulties to calm down, it can be helpful to ask the students to turn around and not look at each other for a while. Another option is to work with a yellow and a red card (similar to the rules of a soccer game).

Emphasize what the parties have in common and where they differ
Summarize their interests and feelings in order to clarify similarities and differences.
“I understood that both of you…”
“You have a different point of view/ opinion concerning …”
“Both of you want to…”


  • Jamie Walker (Ed.), Mediation in der Schule 2005, p. 185, revised by Beate Roggenbuck

8.7.6 Analysing conflicts and communication skills

Exercise, handout number Time Method Materials
Opening session 15 min Plenary
Game with feelings 15 min Exercise Copy
Difficult statements in school 20 min Plenary Copy
Reflect back 15 min Introduction and questions Copy
Introduction of the ice-berg model and application 30 min Application of the role play Copy
I-statements 30 min Copy
Evaluation 10 min

Handout 17: Dealing with feelings

Helpful sentences:

  • If I understood you the right way, you feel… Am I right?
  • Could it be that you feel…?
  • My impression is that you are sad (angry, hurt…), because…
  • You seem to be very upset, am I right?

  • Jamie Walker, Mediation in der Schule, p. 195

Handout 18A: Exercise: Difficult statements in School Mediation

Imagine situations in a peer mediation in which a student makes the following statements. Each statement stands on its own – there is no connection between situations.
Try out each scene for a moment to get a feeling for the situation. Consider which feelings, desires and wishes could be hidden behind the statement. Then think of possible ways the mediators might react, e.g. ask for concrete information, have the parties reconstruct the situation, reflect back what you have heard, reflect back the feelings, ask the party to express his or her feelings or to reward a reproach into a desire, ask if there has ever been an exception. Often it will be important to use several techniques – what is important is the order in which you use them. Try out different reactions in a mini-role play but please avoid asking “why” as this might put people on the defensive.

1. He started! He kicked me first!
Desires / interests:
Mediators’ reaction:

2. She’s always doing that! It drives me crazy!
Desires / interests:

Mediators’ reaction:

3. I didn’t mean it like that – she shouldn’t take it personally.
Desires / interests:

Mediators’ reaction:

4. That’s absolutely not true! She’s lying!
Desires / interests:

Mediators’ reaction:


  • Training material Jamie Walker

Handout 18: Reflect back

To reflect back is an essential communication technique during the whole mediation process. The mediators repeat what has been said by the parties in their own words and if necessary ask for clarification. Here are some helpful sentences:

  • Do you think that…?
  • Did I understand you right?
  • You seem to be …
  • Let me see whether I understood what you mean…
  • My perception is that you are…
  • Could it be that…
  • You think perhaps that…
  • I noticed that you were nearly crying when you talked about…
  • On the whole, I think you mean…

  • Diemut Hauk-Thorn, Streitschlichtung in Schule und Jugendarbeit, 2002, p. 75, revised by Beate Roggenbuck

Handout 19: The Iceberg Model of Conflict Dynamics



10 minutes


The participants become acquainted with one of the most popular models reflecting conflict dynamics: the iceberg model. It is an easy and directly applicable tool in order to understand conflict dynamics.


Flipchart No. 1, (flipchart samples see additional material)

Instruction for implementation:

One trainer draws the shape of an iceberg on a flipchart, then invites the participants to name signals for a conflict between two parties which can be immediately recognized and include them in the visible part of the iceberg.  But what lies underneath? What can´t be seen at first sight?  Have the participants reflect the hidden aspects of a conflict and write them down.

Evaluation procedure:  The exercise is a good opportunity to sensitize students to have a second look at a given situation and try to understand what is below the water surface.

Handout 20: I – statements

In order to support an open and authentic dialogue, mediators should encourage students to use I – statements. Instead of accusing the other partner of a certain behavior or using a put-down, the students express what the situation meant to them, how they felt etc. Marshall Rosenberg, a famous American psychologist, developed the concept of Nonviolent Communication.
When students express their personal feelings the focus is shifted from an accusation to the feelings or thoughts which arose after a certain behavior.
An example:
“I am hurt/angry/upset… when you call me names/ talk behind my back/ exclude me for no reason…”
A more detailed I statement consists of four steps:
“When you…
I feel/ am…
And I want…

Situation 1:
Marco´s parents cannot afford to buy new sports clothes for him. Peter is making fun of him because he is still wearing the old fashioned clothes.

Situation 2:
Susan got a bad mark in the latest math test. Irene is laughing at her and calls her a dummy.

8.7.7 Deepening phase 3

Exercise, handout number Time Method Materials
Opening session 15 min Recap – feelings, iceberg
Phase 3 introduction 5 min Plenary Copy
Open and closed questions 15 min Splitting in pairs of two students Copy
Role play phase 3 (Including evaluation in subgroups) 30 min Continuation in groups Materials
 Position, interests, needs 20 min Copy
Evaluation 10 min

Handout 21: Understanding the conflict

In the third phase, the mediators try to have a look at what is underneath the water surface, e.g. feelings, communication patterns, misunderstandings, different values, perceptions, needs… In other words, what is behind the conflict? The mediators encourage the parties to open up and use I – statements.
One possibility to start the third phase is to ask the following question: “What does this mean for you?” The intention is to learn something about the parties´ personal background and interests.

Mediators concentrate on feelings and interests:

“What did you think when…/how did you feel when…?”
“What is important for you?”
“What is your goal?”

Mediators encourage I – statements

Mediators try to encourage personal statements (starting with I) instead of general accusations.
“Could you tell us what you did in the conflict?”

Mediators support the expression of the momentary mood of the parties

“It might be helpful if you can tell us how you feel right now.”
Mediators foster direct communication between the parties
“Please tell him/her directly.”
“What do you think about that? Please tell him/her directly.”

Mediators support the change of perspective

“Can you understand how he/she felt?”
“Imagine yourself in his/her shoes. Can you understand what happened?”

Sometimes it is helpful to ask the parties to change seats in order to intensify the change of perspectives. But make sure that both return to their original places!
Mediators summarize the progress of the process
“ I am really pleased that…”
“You have made a big step forward…”


  • Jamie Walker (Ed.), Mediation in der Schule, p. 196, revised by Beate Roggenbuck

Handout 22: Open and closed questions

In a mediation process, it is helpful to use open questions in order to avoid judgments or accusations. The mediator has a neutral attitude which should be reflected in the communication. Closed questions like

  • Did you do it?
  • Do you think that’s o.k.?
  • Do you always do it like that?
  • Do you want to apologize?

should be avoided.

Open questions

Open questions are questions that invite parties to open up and talk about the incident/conflict. It is not just a “Yes” or “No” answer.
Open questions can start with: How? What? When? Where? Who? ….

For example:

  • What happened?
  • Who else was there?
  • When did things get out of hand?
  • How did you feel at the time?
  • Where did it hurt?
  • What upset you the most?
  • What did it mean for you?
  • Do you want to talk more in detail about…?
  • I am really interested in hearing how you felt when…
  • What is the most important issue for you, can you tell me?
  • I didn´t really understand what you said, please explain it again.
Avoid asking “Why?”

Asking “Why?” usually gives the person the feeling that he or she has to defend himself / herself. People sometimes feel attacked and go on the defensive. They close down rather than opening up.


  • Jamie Walker, revised by Beate Roggenbuck

Handout 23: Guideline: Position/ Interests/Needs


20 minutes


Participants try to understand the needs of a position in a mediation party by applying the model: position/interest/needs.


Flipchart No. 1, (flipchart samples see additional material)

Instruction for implementation:

The trainers point out that it is helpful to look behind the verbalized position of the parties. Or in other words: to look underneath the water surface when we remember the model of the iceberg.

The position is the peak of the iceberg, e.g. the point of view, what is expressed:
what we say we want.

The interests are representing the intentions, goals of an actor, often not expressed directly:
what we really want.

The level of needs stands for wishes, feelings:
what we must have.

An example:

Paul, 14 years old, is often excluded by his classmates when they are playing soccer. He takes revenge by bad mouthing the other students.

His position: If they don´t include me they deserve punishment.

His interest: He wants to join the soccer game.

His needs: He wants to be integrated and accepted.

The facilitators invite the participants to come up with examples of a position in a conflict and then try to analyze the interest and needs behind it.

Evaluation procedure: The participants share their examples and reflect that the expression of a position often mirrors unsatisfied needs.


8.7.8 Solution phase 4

Exercise,handout number Time Method Materials
Opening session 15 min Plenary
Square game  25 min Dividing into groups
Wrapping up in the whole group
Envelopes with puzzle cards
Phase 4 Introduction 10 min Plenary Copy
Checklist for a good solution 15 min Plenary Copy
Phase 5 Introduction 10 min Plenary Copy
Role play phase 4 + 5 continuation 20 min Group work
Evaluation phase 4+5 15 min Plenary Copy
Evaluation of the session 10 min Plenary Copy

Handout 24: Square Game


30 – 40 minutes


Participants learn that the first solution is not necessarily the best one and experience the benefit of a collective effort to solve a problem.


Cut puzzle pieces  according to the template below, use thick paper. Prepare one set of envelopes per group (= 5 envelopes) containing pieces of a puzzle with the following pattern:

Different pieces in five envelopes: (A-E)

A: I,h,e

B: a,a,a,c

C: a,j

D: d,f,

E: g,b,f,c

The five equal size squares:

Instruction for implementation:

The facilitators ask for one or two participants who volunteer as observers, then form groups with five members each. Each group gets one set of envelopes, which contain different pieces of different shapes to form a square.  These are the instructions for the following activities in the subgroups:

Instructions to the groups:

  • Your individual task is to form a square.
  • Your group task is to form five squares of the same size.
  • Nobody is allowed to talk.
  • Everybody can put pieces in the middle of the table and take pieces away from there.
  • No one is allowed to intervene in the work of someone else (“steal” pieces).

Observer task:

  • Check that everyone follows the rules.
  • Observe and report later how the exercise developed.

Evaluation procedure:  After about 15 minutes the facilitators ask everyone to come back to plenary and discuss:

  • Have you solved the task?
  • What happened in the group? Did you cooperate?
  • How did the members communicate (eye signals, showing openness…)?
  • How did the individuals behave (cooperate, compete, accommodate…)?

  • Katharina Schilling, Peacebuilding and conflict transformation – Methods and games to facilitate training sessions, 2012, p.90 revised by Beate Roggenbuck

Handout 25: Looking for possible solutions: Who can offer what?

The third phase in the mediation process is aiming at strengthening the mutual understanding of the conflict parties, furthermore to enable a change of perspectives. On this basis, the parties can go a step further. They can think about possible solutions to solve the problem.  The mediators should encourage the parties to find their own solution: “You are the conflict experts, you know best what to do in order to prevent more tensions and find ways to reconcile again.”

One method to find solutions is to ask the parties to brainstorm possible ways out of the conflict. The mediators take notes of the proposed points (if possible on a flipchart to enable the parties to keep an overview).  The next step is to identify proposals both parties agree on, discuss them in detail and apply the checklist for a good solution.

Another possibility is to prepare a paper circle, cut it in half and ask the students to answer the following questions:

  • What can I do to solve the problem?
  • What do I expect from the other party?

The students write down their ideas and place the paper on the table, (the two halves don´t form a circle yet) and discuss the ideas. Again, the checklist of a good solution will be applied.  If both parties agree the mediators ask the students to combine the halves to symbolize the solution.

This method is goal oriented and often suits the expectations of the students: both parties give and take. Plus it is less time consuming which is helpful in a school context.

If a problem is more complex it might be necessary to use moderation cards instead of paper halves, again following the give and take an idea.

In case the students don´t come up with proposals the mediators can offer assistance: “I have had a similar case before. These students agreed to… Do you think that this might be a possibility in order to solve your conflict?”

Handout 26: Checklist for a good solution

As mediators you have to pay attention that the proposed solution is fair. Here are some questions which are helpful in order to assure a good solution:

  • Is the proposed solution fair? E.G. both parties feel responsible for the solution and contribute. No party will be disadvantaged.
  • Is it a real solution for the problem? The conflict will be solved and not just delayed.
  • Is the solution appropriate? The proposal does not cause additional problems ( e.g. too expensive, someone else will suffer, too complex)
  • Is the solution realistic? Are the parties able to execute the solution on their own?
  • Is the solution concrete? Do the parties know what to do by when?

  • Jamie Walker (Ed.), Mediation in der Schule, p. 199, revised by Beate Roggenbuck

Handout 27: Agreement and closing

Mediators can intensify the relevance of the solution and mutual reliability of the parties by asking them to sign a written agreement.  The mediators write down the solution which the parties agreed on, make sure that nobody wants any more changes and then ask the parties to sign the paper. Both parties receive a copy of the agreement. Depending on the complexity of the conflict and/or on the commitment the students show, the mediators can offer another meeting in one or two weeks.  The mediators thank the parties for their participation and their trust, wish them well and remind them (if agreed on) of the date of the follow-up session.

Sample for a contract:

Party A Party B
Type of conflict
On (date) we have voluntarily participated in a mediation process. This is the solution we both agreed on:
We accept the agreement.
Party A Party B
Mediator Mediator

  • Jamie Walker (Ed.), Mediation in der Schule, p. 204, revised by Beate Roggenbuck

8.7.9 New role play with all phases

Exercise,handout number Time Method Materials
Opening session 15 min Plenary
New Roleplay with all phases + evaluation in the working group 60 min + 10 min Dividing into working groups and 1 observer Role cards
Evaluation of all role plays 20 min Plenary
Collecting “wishes” for the last meeting 10 min Plenary

Handout 28: Role Play Andrew and Tim

Mediation training: Role Play Andrew and Tim

Instruction for implementation:

The facilitators ask the participants to form groups of 5. The role plays will be conducted parallel (make sure to have enough rooms or corners for undisturbed role playing).  The participants of each subgroup chose a role (2 mediators, Andrew, and Tim plus an observer). The trainers distribute the role descriptions and the guideline for observers.  The mediators receive some time to prepare the role play (setting, review of the guideline) while the parties are outside the room getting acquainted with their role. Then the mediators invite the parties and the observer to come in and start the role play.

Description of the problem for the mediators
Andrew  and Tim

Andrew and Tim attend the 7th class. They have been friends since Kindergarten. But today they had a quarrel during the morning break, calling each other names and screaming at each other. It has never been this bad before, normally their arguments don´t last very long and they make up soon but today  it is different. A teacher, Mr. Smith, has observed them and proposes to see the peer mediators.

Role description Andrew
Andrew and Tim

Andrew and Tim attend the 7th class. They have been friends since Kindergarten. But today they had a quarrel during the morning break, calling each other names and screaming at each other. It has never been this bad before, normally their arguments don´t last very long and they make up soon but today  it is different. A teacher, Mr. Smith, has observed them and proposes to see the peer mediators.


Andrew is really mad at Tim. He is assuming that Tim was badmouthing him behind his back. He suspects that this is due to the fact that he missed a penalty kick in a soccer game. Soccer is very important for Tim and he always wants to win the game. But it was bad luck, Andrew didn´t miss on purpose.  He doesn´t understand why Tim cannot accept the fact that you sometimes lose a game and he is angry that Tim is talking behind his back. Andrew is willing to discuss the problem in a mediation.

Role description Tim
Andrew and Tim

Andrew and Tim attend the 7th class. They have been friends since Kindergarten. But today they had a quarrel during the morning break, calling each other names and screaming at each other. It has never been this bad before, normally their arguments don´t last very long and they make up soon but today  it is different. A teacher, Mr. Smith, has observed them and proposes to see the peer mediators.


Tim is upset about Andrew´s attitude. He missed the penalty kick and then he said that it was just a game and things like that happen without excusing himself.  For Tim, it is important to give one´s best in a soccer game. Tim complained about Andrew´s behavior in front of the other team members. Isn´t that allowed?  Why did he scream at him during the break? But since they have been friends for such a long time he agrees to attend a mediation.

8.7.10 Repetition, challenges and go for it

Exercise,handout number Time Method Materials
Opening session 15 min Plenary
Repetition of the phases and the challenges 30 min Dividing into groups Candies
Open questions, wishes  of the group 30 min Group work and presentation Flipchart paper, markers
Overall evaluation and sharing of sweets and chips or healthy food + Certificates 20 min Plenary Something to eat