Last year 24 students in a third grade classroom at Roger’s Elementary in the Kansas City, Missouri School District were experiencing their first of six lessons, learning a conflict resolution process called ‘Talk It Out’ by Barbara Porro. ‘Talk It Out’ has six steps.
1. Stop and Cool Off
2. Think about how you feel
3. Talk about how you feel and why
4. Listen to the other person
5. Brainstorm ideas to solve the problem
6. Pick the one you both like-DO IT!
The children were sharing ways they thought might work to Stop and Cool off. One boy said you could ‘read a book until you weren’t mad anymore’. One girl said you could walk away.
The Community Mediation Center (CMC) facilitator said that those were both good ideas and then asked, “ How about taking a few deep breaths?” She asked every one to stand up and said, “breath deeply in through your nose, like you are trying to smell some really yummy soup someone is cooking at your house. Then let the breath out through your mouth, like you are blowing on the soup to cool it off so you can eat it.” They practiced the skill several times and then learned some other ways to cool off. Each child wrote down the one they thought would work for them when they found themselves in a frustrating situation, or felt angry with someone else.
The next week the CMC facilitator returned to the classroom for lesson two. She began with a review of the previous lesson. When she asked the class what the first step in solving conflict peacefully was, one little boy’s hand shot up without hesitation. The facilitator pointed to him and he said, having not quite mastered his ‘l’s', “Smew the soup, bwow the soup!”
An 8 year-old boy now knows a way to ‘Stop and Cool Off’ before reacting in a conflict situation, a skill that, at some point, could save his life. Welcome to the peace party!
You are invited: CMC has an interpersonal conflict resolution class planned for March, 2012. Consider spending 2 days learning about and engaging in a valuable and practical process called ‘Think, Listen, Collaborate’. Call to reserve your spot, 816-461-8255. The way you view conflict will never be the same!