I'm Joya from Live Love Serve Teach blogging today about creating peace in the classroom. This time of year gets crazy, hectic, chaotic, and just plain busy. Students are busy at home and at school. The holidays also bring out lots of different emotions in kids based on their experiences. Peace can be hard to find and maintain in the classroom. I'm here to share about Peace Talks and how they can help.
I got this idea from the book Solving Thorny Behavior Problems by Caltha Crowe. This book is part of the Responsive Classroom method. Have you heard about Responsive Classroom? If not, click here for a general overview. I'm a huge fan and used Responsive Classroom for over 12 years in my teaching.
Peace Talks in the Classroom
First: Students need to cool off. No one is going to be able to solve any problems in the heat of the moment. I used a quiet corner in my room that had comfy pillows for students who needed to cool off. My son's Montessori teachers use a Peace Table. It is in front of a mirror. There are 2 seats at the table. There is a plant, an electric candle, and a sensory bottle. My son is 4 so this is what a table would look like in a preschool/kindergarten classroom.
Need ideas for sensory bottles? Pinterest has tons. Click here for some inspiration.
Next: The child who has been hurt/teased/etc... comes up with an I Statement and asks the other child (the offender) for a peace talk. Example: "I didn't like it when you pushed me. It felt scary. Will you please join me for a peace talk?"
Where peace talks happen are up to you. Design a peace corner, peace table, whatever works in your classroom.
Second child needs to share his or her understanding of what was said. "I heard you say you felt scared when you were pushed". Or kids would say something like this: "I heard you say I didn't like it when you pushed me. I felt scared." Sometimes it's easier to teach them to repeat exactly what they heard. Then that child gets to share their "side of the story" or what they think happened. It is important to try and have the second child first state what he/she heard then state their point of view. Otherwise you end up with more arguing.
The children continue sharing what they heard and their point of view until both feel that they have been heard and understood.
Then: The students work together to brainstorm possible solutions. Two young children are not going to magically brainstorm solutions. This is where a peace talk anchor chart is very helpful. I had one that stated the steps in a peace talk and one that listed common solutions to common problems.
Finally: Students choose one of the solutions. They both have to agree on the solution. Once there is agreement students shake hands to "seal the agreement". As a first and second grade teacher for 15 years I usually helped the students follow through on their solutions and make sure both parties were satisfied. :)
This process takes time and some intentional teaching but is soooo powerful. I hope you decide to try peace talks in your room. Let me know how it goes. Share questions, success stories, and struggles below in the comments.
Wishing you a "peaceful" December!