I wanted to share this story with you.
I have a student who has had significant anger issues for several years. He and I have been working hard on trying to resolve the issues and develop some skills and strategies to handle the feelings and emotions when they arise. We have had great success. During a recent peace circle, while we were sharing appreciations, he said, "Ms. Thomsen, (then tears came streaming down his face) I want to thank you for helping me to control my anger. No one else has ever taken the time to do that for me. It makes me feel cared for and believed in."
He then went on to say that he learned it is OK to say the things he did in peace circle, because he knows the circle is safe and no one will tease or make fun of him. He is a different kid!
Thank you for this amazing gift. We are making a difference!
Thank you so much for coming to start Peace Keepers circles in our school. I am so excited about this program with this group of students. I was so emotional today because it is a rarity that I hear them speak so kindly to each other. It took me off guard when my students showed appreciation to me as well. I have worked so hard this year for these kids and sometimes all it takes is a “thank you”. It hit me at my core today for sure.
I am so excited by this program and the skills that it will give my students when working with each other!
She thanked me for bringing Peacekeeper to their school because she knows that sometimes friendships break apart but Peacekeeper helps it not to crack so badly.
She told she hurt a friend and then she apologized . In closure she said it hurt to get the hurt said to her and it felt so much better after she apologized. As I was leaving the classroom she came up to me to ask me for a hug. My heart melted and to top it off as I left I saw her walk behind the friend and touch her shoulder and they smiled at one another. AHHHH
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.
The number of referrals for this group of kids has dramatically reduced just in the first few weeks the children have been using Peacekeeper circles in their classrooms. This is the best use of money I have spent in a long time. The principal shared: (with a huge smile on her face), “the discipline referrals are lower than ever in the school’s history”. The pro-active use of these communication skills fits so well in the social emotional curriculum and now we will train all teachers and students and be using Peacekeeper school wide.
Peacekeeper is a staple in my classroom. I think it is really important for students to be empowered to learn how to speak to one another respectfully whether it be about something that worked or didn’t work for them personally. I feel that by doing Peacekeeper in my room that it helps to build community within my classroom. I benefit from that all year long. I have been doing Peacekeeper for 4 years with my first graders and will continue to do so!
During my time as a school teacher, I used this program in my classroom and the benefits were endless. Since then the program has grown significantly. PeaceKeeper Circles are making waves in Fort Collins and surrounding cities. The program can be used in numerous settings and for just about any situation.
I know as a school teacher, counselor and principal that plenty of intervention tools cross our desk throughout the year. As a conscious being, I believe in this method of communication and conflict resolution. Our children need as many tools in their toolkits to enhance their communication skills and everyday interactions with others in their community.
I am thankful for your participation with Peacekeeper Circles. Our circle time today was so powerful. As it progressed I could see the trust and love developing among the kids. I can see how regular practice will truly bond us as a caring community!
An unexpected benefit was that I am getting to understand and appreciate my students so much better as “real people.” Already I can feel how I can deepen the student-teacher relationship with each one of these special people. This is only my 2nd year in 4th grade. For years, I have been hesitant about working with this age of student. I survived last year, but Peacekeeper Circles is helping me understand these guys so much better. I know we will develop together a bond that will help me react and interact with the kids so much better!
Thanks so much for supporting our community and emotional development in 4th Grade!
“This group was kindest group of students I have ever witnessed at ECO week. In the past, relationship issues would often arise in the cabins. This year none!
The teacher attributed this to the students having had Peacekeeper in their 4th grade classrooms. Their ability to be compassionate emotionally made her so proud and grateful."
I wanted to share this with you (and truly I wish you could’ve been here to experience it).
Someone in my class poked a hole in all of our Witt Fitts (the stability balls we sit on). My class pulled together so beautifully to “catch the culprit.” They brainstormed and wracked their brains to try to solve the mystery, as did I. Finally, after a week of class meetings, etc – I found out who did it.
As part of her consequence she had to apologize to the class, so she stood up and read her letter to the class. After she was done there was an uncomfortable mood in the room, so I called a Peacekeeper circle. I told the kids they could treat it as regular Peacekeeper, but also to use this opportunity to say something to the person who poked the Witt Fitts. Every single person in the circle went around and told the person they forgave her and how much they respected the courage it took to stand up and apologize in front of the class. It was such a memorable, powerful, sentimental moment… I hope all of my students learned a big lesson from this experience. So, without Peacekeeper we wouldn’t have been able to have the beautiful closure with such betraying actions….
I am so proud of my student! Every circle time, they continue to grow so much. Even as 6 and 7 year olds, they are able to speak and listen from the heart. These past few weeks I have noticed students starting to apply Peacekeeper skills to everyday life. Students are starting to become aware of the importance of eye contact. Students are also using their skills to solve problems that arise. I am very excited about this program, I am confident this is helping prepare them for the rest of their life. Learning these skills in first grade will only benefit and nurture their relationships in the future.
Thanks for all that you do Kiri!
Dear Miss Kiri
I just wanted to write you a letter about how awesome you are and how peacekeeper has helped me and my mom's life. Peacekeeper was very inspirational to me and it totally made my life different.
Peacekeeper change my life because of some disputes with people, friends and family. When I do class peacekeeper we get in circle and we can discuss our feelings.
Also when there is a dispute with my family members peacekeeper helps. For example: my mom and my step grandpa, we're mad at each other because my step grandpa tried to take our house away from us. My mom will not forgive him even though my dying great grandma said "don't hate, but face your problems" and so what I did was on Christmas Day, I made the whole family do peacekeeper and now they are friends once again.
I really like peacekeeper and I hope you come again
I was struck by the ability of the kids to stay focused so beautifully, expressed gratitude so articulately, and by their amazing recall of the components of the circle process you have taught them. Imagine getting into every class in town Middle schools will look a lot different if Peace Circle kids are walking the halls!
I wanted to update you all after yesterday’s Peacekeeper meeting: Dale expressed a hurt to me stating that he felt mad when I allow students to do things that not all students should be allowed to do. During the circle I thanked him for sharing and asked him if we could follow up after the circle. We did, and he described the exact situation I thought he was referring to: Me allowing any student to salute the flag, not just Boy Scouts, as Dale would like it to be. I explained my thinking on my decision and he understood (once I added a similar situation for him to imagine). He apologized very sincerely for yelling at me the day before when he was first really angry about it. We then talked about how good it felt for both of us to share our feelings through discussion versus his use of argument. We both agreed that it felt much better that way! It was such a powerful moment that we had together! I really appreciate him being given the tools by Peacekeeper Circles to handle that situation the way he did.
Another success story!! ☺
Thanks for all you both do!
Two girls had conflict earlier in the week. They used Peacekeeper skills expressing the hurt and then apologizing. One girl appreciated the other in circle because she was thankful that she and this friend now feel better together.
He feels we are all turtles and we are now feeing safe to come and peek out of our shells
5th grade girl thanked me (Ms Kiri) for bringing Peacekeeper into her school because last year their class was having such a hard time and she didn't feel like she had any friends.
“This year I feel like I have many more friends. I am much happier and feel we all know how to make friends because PeaceKeeper helped us learn how to treat each other nicely.”
Peacekeeper is a staple in my classroom. I think it is really important for students to be empowered to learn how to speak to one another respectfully whether it be about something that worked or didn’t work for them personally. I feel that by doing Peacekeeper in my room that it helps to build community within my classroom. I benefit from that all year long.
I have been doing Peacekeeper for 4 years with my first graders and will continue to do so!
Thank you SO much for your presence and help last year. You were a welcome and needed addition to my class. We loved having you and I know that the process and language you brought to us helped me and my kiddos in school and out. I am so grateful for what I learned with you and them. This year I am teaching math intervention so I do not have a regular class of students. In the future if I ever go back to the classroom I will have Peace Circle for sure!
Thank you for bringing Peace Circle into our classroom this semester! To be honest, we had many challenging behaviors in our class this year - so much so that it is actually my job as a paraprofessional to mediate behaviors, conversations, and help students interact appropriately.
Unfortunately I underestimated our students, because I was very surprised that our fourth grade students took it so seriously! Some of the students that interact consistently on a lighthearted level truly opened up to their friends and took advantage of the time to explain hurt feelings. The students that consistently argue and struggle with empathy were able to learn to speak and listen from the heart. I noticed students using Peacekeeper language regularly when they were solving conflict. I have heard students say that Peace Circles changed their life!
While all of the students are still honing the skills, Peacekeeper has given me tools to guide the students through conflict, problem-solving, and relationship-building. It has helped our class to flow better, with fewer disruptions to learning. We have some pretty extreme and negative behaviors in our classroom, and it was a great way to start the students on a path to helpful, healthy, appropriate relationships and problem-solving.
I hope you continue to teach kids in schools through Peace Circles!
Teachers are asked these days to fit ten hours of work in a day where only six are available. With that said, I am a teacher that believes that academics are important don't get me wrong, I wouldn't be a teacher if I didn't believe that. However, an aspect of life that sometimes goes by the wayside are social skills. So much of a teacher's job is to alleviate problems that students have with each other, that unfortunately is not in the ten hours of academics that we have to meet which our jobs depend on. That's why in my classroom I have made time for 45 minutes a week to have Peacekeeper circle. My classroom culture is surrounded by it. Social skills are, in my opinion, the most important for our world to change the path that we are in. Watched any news lately and left saying, "Our world is in a good place." I haven't either, it is our job to teach the future adults of this world how to treat one another, and how to interact with each other. It can be as simple as saying, "It hurts my feelings when you ..." Or, "You know it makes me feel .... when you do this, thank you."
Peace keeper circles are great and they work. The students could openly and honestly express their feelings and resolve problems. Not only do they do this in circle, but at other times during the day. It gave them self-confidence to take charge and problem solve. These are skills they will take with them as they graduate and mature.
“Ms. T, (tears streaming down his face), I want to thank you for helping me control my anger. No one has ever taken time to do that for me. It makes me feel cared for and believed in." Then he said, that he learned it is OK to say these things during PeaceKeeper, because the circle is safe and no one will make fun of him.”
In an effort to reduce the number of arguments and incidents on the playground and in class, we were looking for a way to give students the skills to talk with their peers in a productive manner that would help resolve their issues. As a PBIS school, we focus on the positive and recognize students for exhibiting the appropriate behaviors. We felt we needed to take it to the next level and provide time once a week for students to learn skills to help talk with one another and build relationships so they are able to share their perspective.
In this day and age with academic accountability at an all-time high we were hesitant to embark on something that might be ‘just one more thing’. To our relief, Peacekeeper Circles have helped build relationships and classroom communities that provide an opportunity to share appreciation as well as grievances in a safe, productive manner. These efforts up front have given us all a common language and expectation which in turn has increased instruction time because teachers are able to focus on teaching and learning, and students aren’t being pulled as often to resolve issues.
Having the opportunity to sit in several classroom Peacekeeper Circles, I was amazed at the level the students have participated. To hear a student state a grievance to another student and how that act made them feel…and then that student genuinely apologize and state what they will do different was amazing. As a principal, working on behavioral incidents many times occurs after the fact. I work through with the students what went wrong, what to do different, etc. With Peacekeeper circles, students are empowered to speak up, share what they appreciate about their classmates as well as what might have hurt them. This approach is more proactive and our hope is it will lead to students having the skills to talk with peers and adults to communicate how they feel when something might occur.
Feedback from teachers has been amazing! It has given them the skills to effectively run a class meeting in a manner that is beneficial to everyone. The students have responded positively as well. They have thanked me and their teachers for allowing them to speak and genuinely share how they are feeling about someone’s behavior or how some incident made them feel. Communication is one of the most important skills we can give our students. Our hope is that starting them with this process in elementary school will prepare them to talk with peers and adults in middle school, high school and beyond in a manner that is respectful and productive. Students are able to communicate how they feel before an interaction reaches a bullying level. Often times students dwell on what is not working and having them recognize what is positive and expressing that appreciation builds a relationship with that peer that they might not have had before. Once this trust and relationship is built they are more comfortable sharing a grievance or hurt, working it out, and moving on.
It is hard to put into words how successful Peacekeeper Circles have been so far. As we move to incorporate this practice school wide, I am excited to see how it will improve our community and interactions overall and empower students to develop respectful relationships. I am so proud of them for being able to acknowledge appreciation for others and respectfully air small grievances and hurts before they become full-blown conflicts.
“Peacekeeper circles are such a great fit for how we like our school to feel and it really feels great. The consciousness around using language that is supportive to kids speaking feelings rather than accusatory language such as “I don’t like it when” is a great awareness. “This is why I do this work!
I wanted to share this story with you. I have a student who has had significant anger issues for several years. He and I have been working hard on trying to resolve the issues and develop some skills and strategies to handle the feelings and emotions when they arise. We have had great success. During a recent peace circle, while we were sharing appreciations, he said, "Ms. Thomsen, (then tears came streaming down his face) I want to thank you for helping me to control my anger. No one else has ever taken the time to do that for me. It makes me feel cared for and believed in." He then went on to say that he learned it is OK to say the things he did in peace circle, because he knows the circle is safe and no one will tease or make fun of him. He is a different kid!
Thank you for this amazing gift. We are making a difference!
Peacekeepers provides students with a safe and comfortable forum to share what they are feeling, beginning with the circle students form. The circle furnishes the strength and unity of the classroom community and imparts a non-threatening atmosphere from which students can speak. Likewise, the Peacekeeper process builds students’ confidence and provides the communication tools students need to share what is on their mind and to accept what others are expressing.
The 4th grade students in my classroom utilize the Peacekeeper process to appreciate and to uplift students’ spirits. They take advantage of the opportunity to share hurts and concerns and to make friends aware of the consequences of their actions.
Students at our School use the Peacekeeper circle to talk about collaboration: the positive results of working on a project with a small group and the obstacles that keep the group from being cohesive and achieving objectives. The Peacekeeper circle is a great fit with Project Based Learning. What I used to try to get students to do and say in regards to the PBL process through whole group instruction and conferencing, students undertake on their own, in a much more meaningful way, during Peacekeepers.
I greatly look forward to our weekly circles, and students do too!
PeaceKeeper Circle is a significant part of my classroom curricula because I have seen how effective the process is in creating an environment of safety, respect, compassion, through using language to acknowledge and teach one another, or address differences in thinking. This is vitally important when the entirety of a student’s day is spent in community with other learners. There is nothing more important when creating a vibrant learning environment than teaching students how to communicate powerfully with one another. Meaningful learning can occur when students feel respected, safe and valued.
PeaceKeeper offers this and so much more. I have seen my students go from a disconnected group of individuals to a cohesive, caring learning community where each other’s learning is supported and collaboration occurs effectively. I haven’t seen this in my whole career, until I began using PeaceKeeper.
I am passionate about the use of PeaceKeeper in every classroom. I can only imagine the success these students will achieve as a cohort if the use of PeaceKeeper Circles follows them throughout their education. Imagine the adults they will become! It is truly exciting and vital in supporting students through the rigor of the Common Core and through life.
The kids had an amazing and powerful peacekeeper circle today! Most kids shared appreciations, but many did hurts too. EVERYONE was able to “take it in” and start the reflection process if they had a concern spoken to them. Also, a student who was very argumentative last week and had lots of concerns spoken to him, he also had a couple of appreciations this week, including “you are fun to be around!” Wow!
Thank you again for bringing this program to our school, I am finding it so useful and wonderful for both the students and for me!
We talk about your peace circles often and I just can't say enough about how much I love your work and how much I think this world needs these lessons of peace & love!