PHES, MES students learn to resolve their own conflicts
Students at Pinon Hills and Minden elementary schools are settling their differences by themselves – with the help of their peers.
The program is in its fourth year. Children in grades 4th through 6th apply to be conflict managers, and those who serve are chosen by their teachers, principals and counselor for both schools, Tracey Wagner, for the program.
“It teaches kids to develop problem-solving skills and leadership skills,” Wagner said. “It is also intended to solve problems. Conflict managers are there to listen and assist children to solve problems, not do it for them.”
The long-term result, she hopes, will to teach all students how to solve problems because they will listen to each other and work things out.
According to conflict manager guidelines, talking to a conflict manager is the disputing students’ choice. If they decide to accept help from conflict managers, they must agree to work hard to solve their problem.
Conflict managers are helpers, not police officers, and if there is physical fighting, the conflict managers do not get involved.
Wagner said that children are usually told to take their dispute to an adult and let the grownup solve the problem. Through the help of conflict managers, students settle their own disputes and learn problem-solving skills that will stand them in good stead later in life.
Students who volunteered to be conflict managers recently were trained at Bently Science Park. The managers must volunteer a specific amount of time and be at their posts when scheduled. They must also attend conflict managers’ meetings on a regular basis.
Wagner is pleased with the managers’ work this year.
“Every time I go out to check on them,” she said, “they’re resolving conflicts. It’s off to a very good start.”