Conflict managers can help dissolve playground problems.
One day, Hadiqa, an Iranian American 6th-grader, comes to school wearing a white headscarf. "Cool," says Tania, Hadiqa's friend.
"Not cool," whispers Tim, another 6th-grader. "What is she wearing? Looks like the Taliban. She should go back to her country." Hadiqa walks away but not before Tim grabs her and pours water all over her head and scarf.
"I'm Stephanie and this is Tyler," a voice says. "We're Conflict Managers, and we can help."
This is how Conflict Managers at Sacramento's William Land Elementary School work on the playground. A total of 11 intermediate students make up the group. After training for five hours, each student gets a patrol day from social worker Cindy Sasaki, the coordinator.
What do the other students think of Conflict Managers? In a school survey, 90% of the students polled said they would recommend Conflict Managers to their friends.
S.O.S.—Story, Options, Solution
Conflict Managers' Steps to Resolve a Conflict
- Agree to talk and follow the ground rules:
- One person talks at a time
- No interrupting
- No name-calling or put-downs
- Be honest
- First person tells his/her side of the story using "I" statements.
- Second person restates what first person said by saying, "What I heard you say was...." Ask questions for clarification.
- Second person tells his/her side of the story using "I" statements.
- First person restates what first person said by saying, "What I heard you say was...." Ask questions for clarification.
- Agree on what the problem is.
Brainstorm options with both people suggesting possible solutions. "Well, how about...?" No evaluating. All suggestions are accepted and written down.
- Evaluate options. Look for ones that are safe, fair and work for both people.
- Choose a solution where both people can be winners.
- If it doesn't work, get back together and discuss other options.
- If this doesn't work and there is still a problem, ask a teacher you trust for help.
Syeda Z. Hamdani
William Land Elementary