Peacekeepers at Laurel Elementary School of Arts & Technology 2015-16
Tommi Sue Cox, Principal
Laurel 4th grade teachers piloted Peacekeepers Circle in 2014 with ongoing support from Kiri Saftler. As they shared their successful experiences and positive impact on students with their teaching peers, it was a unanimous decision by the Laurel staff for Peacekeepers be a school-wide initiative.
During the 2015-16 school year, all 1st grade – 5th grade teachers were trained by Kiri to implement Peacekeepers Circles in their classrooms. We had great success with those who implemented Peacekeepers as recommended and modeled by Kiri. Students in these classrooms experienced increased learning time, and teachers experienced decreased time lost teaching due to facilitating conflict resolution in the classroom. In turn, limited success was noticed in the classrooms of teachers who were less consistent with implementing Peacekeepers Circles. Students in these classrooms often had repeated conflicts during unstructured time such as lunch and recess, as well as in the classroom.
I appreciate that Kiri recognized the need to differentiate her training to meet the needs of individual teachers as well adjust training to meet the unique dynamics of each classroom. Kiri was wonderful about offering support to all teachers in the manner in which they best learned. She was always respectful of teachers’ time, comfort level, and implementation status.
I noticed, over the school year, that students understood what, “use Peacekeepers words” meant and felt comfortable sharing their hurts and concerns when they encountered conflict. Most students were very responsive and responded appropriately when prompted to resolve their conflicts with Peacekeepers routines and language. I believe many conflicts were resolved with simple prompting, which minimized disruptions to learning in the classrooms, and increased time for students to play and be active during recesses.
In January 2016, Kiri trained Kindergarten teachers and supported the implementation of Peacekeepers Circles in their classrooms. We weren’t certain 5 year-olds were ready for using Peacekeepers, but teachers reported it was highly effective with Kindergarteners and were pleased to begin building their capacity for engaging in conflict resolution at a very early age.
I love that Peacekeepers explicitly teaches and gives students language skills to share hurts and concerns, to respond appropriately when someone shares their feelings, and how to move forward to resolve conflicts. It’s beautiful to see students use these skills and know they are empowered to share their feelings, as well as have success experiences resolving conflicts respectfully.
I highly recommend Peacekeepers Circles for any school community seeking ways to help teach students how to manage conflict safely and respectfully.