State law requires state agencies to develop models and guidance for districts to promote positive social and emotional climate.
17 V.I.C. § 763 Approach utilized
The conflict resolution education approach that shall be utilized in schools throughout the Virgin Islands is the “Peaceable School” approach. The peaceable school approach is a comprehensive whole-school methodology that utilizes conflict resolution as a system of operation for managing the school as well as the classroom. Conflict resolution principles and processes are learned and utilized by every member of the school community-librarians, teachers, counselors, students, principals, and parents.
17 V.I.C. § 764 Conceptual framework
The peaceable school approach integrates conflict resolution into the operation of the school. Every member of the school community learns and uses conflict resolution concepts and skills. Peaceable school climates reflect caring, honesty, cooperation, and appreciation for diversity. Peaceable schools incorporate:
- (1) cooperative learning environments;
- (2) direct instruction and practice of conflict resolution skills and processes;
- (3) noncoercive school and classroom management systems; and
- (4) integration of conflict resolution concepts and skills into the curriculum.
Peaceable schools value and encourage diversity and promote peacemaking as the normative behavior of adults and students. Participants in the peaceable school apply conflict resolution skills to address interpersonal and inter-group problems and issues that confront students, faculty, administrators, and parents. Peaceable school programs offer all of the school community training in the problem-solving processes of conflict resolution. Consensus decision making characterizes each classroom. Negotiation is used by all members of the school community to resolve conflicts equitably. Peer mediation can be applied school-wide and as a service in the classroom to help disputing students settle their differences constructively. The goal of the peaceable school is to create a school wide discipline program focused on empowering students to regulate and control their own behavior. Educators are allowed to model an orderly, productive system through cooperation and persistent pursuit of constructive behavior.
17 V.I.C. § 765 Tasks required
The tasks required for the establishment of peaceable schools throughout the Virgin Islands shall include but not be limited to:
- (1) instituting conflict resolution training for adults;
- (2) designing behavior expectations and management systems in concert with conflict resolution theory;
- (3) building cooperation by incorporating cooperative learning and interaction activities into the classroom;
- (4) developing the scope and sequence of conflict resolution skills taught to students;
- (5) providing opportunities for an age-appropriate understanding of conflict and of peace and peacemaking;
- (6) providing opportunities for an age-appropriate understanding of the principles of conflict resolution based on integrative negotiation theory;
- (7) providing opportunities for each student to learn and practice problem-solving strategies of negotiation and/or consensus decision making within the classroom;
- (8) providing opportunities for students to serve as mediators in their classrooms to help peers resolve issues that they choose not to resolve or cannot resolve through negotiation or consensus decision making;
- (9) providing mediation training for those who want to become mediators in the school-wide program; and
- (10) developing an evaluation process to reach the goal of becoming a peaceable school.
17 V.I.C. § 766 Fundamental skills
The skills necessary for the effective development of a conflict resolution education program utilizing the peaceable school approach shall include but shall not be limited to the following:
- (1) Building a peaceable climate: Responsibility and cooperation are the foundation for all other skills in the peaceable school. To manage student behavior without coercion, adults must take the attitude that effective behavior is the responsibility of the student and strive to develop a sense of responsibility in each.
- (2) Understanding conflict: For students to engage in successful conflict resolution, they must have a shared understanding of the nature of conflict. The idea that psychological needs are the underlying cause of conflict is useful to students as they seek to resolve disputes through common interests.
- (3) Understanding peace and peacemaking: Peacemaking activities help students understand and practice the concept of peace. Students shall be taught that specific behaviors are associated with peacemaking, namely appreciating diversity, understanding perceptions, empathizing, dealing with emotions, managing anger, countering bias, and communicating. Principles of conflict resolution shall also be taught as peacemaking behaviors.
- (4) Mediation: Mediation involves assisted conflict resolution between disputants to be used in the classroom as a school wide vehicle for resolving conflicts. Training activities shall entail a mediation process that allows students to acquire the skills to act as impartial third parties when facilitating conflict resolution between disputants.
- (5) Negotiation: Disputants shall be taught to resolve their conflicts unassisted by stating their individual needs, focusing on their interests rather than their positions, and in so doing generate options for mutual gain.
- (6) Group Problem Solving: Group problem solving shall be taught as a creative strategy for dealing with conflicts involving a number of students within the class-room, within groups, and between groups in the school. The objective of the group shall be to achieve a consensus decision that, when implemented, will resolve the conflict.
17 V.I.C. § 767 Illinois Institute for Dispute Resolution as model
(a) The fundamental skill areas are parts of the curriculum of the Creating a Peaceable School model of the Illinois Institute for Dispute Resolution (“IIDR”). It is the intent of this chapter to have the IIDR model adopted throughout the territory's schools to the extent applicable and appropriate. Each school in the Virgin Islands shall have the flexibility to decide whether or not to adopt the IIDR model given its level of intra-school conflict, needs, and level of violent behavior. If the IIDR model is adopted by a school, that school shall develop a peer mediation program.
(b) A broad-base coalition of administrators, classroom teachers, special educators, counselors, deans, social workers, and health educators interested in developing a conflict resolution program will be necessary for a successful program.
(c) The conflict resolution program team of any school utilizing the IIDR model may also include parents, students, and/or community members.
(d) A school in the Virgin Islands opting for the IIDR model shall include the following six phases of the peer mediation-based, conflict resolution program.
- (1) Develop the Program Team and Commitment
- (2) Design and Plan the Program
- (3) Select and Train the Mediators
- (4) Educate a Critical Mass
- (5) Develop and Execute a Promotional Campaign
- (6) Program Operation and Maintenance
(e) PHASE I shall include the following activities:
- (1) creating the program team
- (2) training the program team
- (3) designating the program coordinators
- (4) conducting a needs assessment
- (5) building faculty consensus for program development
(f) Following phase I, the school is encouraged to establish an advisory committee of 10 to 12 members representing the diverse interests of the school and community, including parents, teachers, school and district administrators, students, support staff, community representatives and corporate sponsors. The advisory committee shall oversee the development of the program, including the role of mediation within the school's discipline program: assist the program team in developing timelines for implementation; and identify and develop funding sources.
(g) PHASE III entail recruiting, selecting, and training student mediators. Nominations shall be broadly solicited from among staff and students, including self-nominations. Student mediation training shall involve 12 to 15 hours of basic training and 12 to 15 hours of additional advanced training. Basic training shall include understanding conflict, responses to conflict, sources of conflict, communication skills, the role of the mediator, and the mediation process. Advanced training includes bias awareness, social/cultural diversity, advanced communication, uncovering hidden interests, dealing with anger, caucusing, negotiation, group problem solving.
(h) PHASE IV focuses on educating a critical mass about conflict, conflict resolution, and the mediation process by using workshops for faculty, students, parents, and the community. An in service training program shall be established for the purpose of helping staff develop a common understanding of conflict, learn the principles of conflict resolution, develop an understanding of the mediation process, learn how to support the peer mediation program through curriculum integration and referral of conflicts to mediation, and prepare to conduct student workshops.
(i) Because peer mediation can be greeted with skepticism, promoting the program among the student population is crucial to its success.
(j) PHASE VI encompasses requesting mediation, scheduling mediations and mediators, supervising mediators, recording mediation data, providing ongoing training and support, and evaluating programs.