Introduction

The training on the Project „Mediation – a tool for conflict management” under the Erasmus + programme, Key Activities 1 „Educational mobility for citizens“, sector „School Education“ in the city of Sabadell, Spain gave me the necessary knowledge to respond to harassment, the necessary skills to cope with conflict and the necessary competencies and confidence to disseminate and apply the lessons learnt in the training and subsequent practice trainings. For me, mediation is a different means of dealing with the demotivation of students and their aggressive behavior. The topic is current and useful for modern schools, what I believe is Professional School of Agriculture „Nikola Pushkarov“.

After studying in Spain and after completion of training in Bulgaria build a stable team of mediators who have a relationship with management, with teachers, with students and their parents relationship that is thin in time. Strengthening the relationship will consolidate the school into a desirable place for young people, even in their spare time. This will lay the foundations of „School of the Future“.

Over the years I have organized numerous trainings, competitions, events with the students. I think I manage to motivate them to be active participants and there is always something interesting that they then talk about. It is very important to be able to attract and intrigue with the idea when conducting the trainings with the students. It is necessary to have besides knowledge in the field of mediation, but also communication skills, ability to form good interpersonal relationships and good organizational and leadership qualities.

The most common conflicts in the PSA “N. Pushkarov“ are verbal harassment, cyber-bullying and aggression directed at training. All this is provoked by the demotivation of young people. Some of the students do not study, have no desire for development, have no purpose in life, have no ambition for improvement, and this has a negative impact on every school activity. They overlook the fact that their future success is linked to their skills, creativity, skills and education. Moreover, for that, it is important for us educators to strive to arouse their interest, to discover their strengths and to motivate them to continue to seek opportunities for expression and success. Good schooling models, models showing the joy of success and the drive to reach the top, should be constructed as early as school age. Students should develop skills such as critical thinking, proper assessment of information and social skills, as that sought by business and formed every citizen as a person.

The teacher is the key factor affecting the self-esteem of students, and later on their potential for learning. Teachers are responsible for facilitating the learning of all students in the classroom. Education is crucial for the development of both individuals and society.

The main goal of the mediator is to develop in students the skills they need for successful implementation in the 21st century – such as analytical thinking, problem solving, teamwork, creativity and emotional intelligence.

The problem with aggression could be decided properly only if we work as a team – all at school. And only if we cooperate with parents as partners for the common cause – socio-emotional well-being, good education and upbringing, children’s happiness. Harassment is often overlooked with the justification that it is a natural process in the upbringing of children. However, this is a mistake that is later understood.

Usually rude behavior remains imperceptible long time and may seem insignificant compared with aggressive physical violence and abuse. However, statistics show that one in four children who bully peers, before his twentieth year already has a criminal record. On the other hand, children who are victims of bullying at school develop symptoms of depression, increased anxiety and easily become victims later in life. It is therefore important to be vigilant about this early form of aggressive behavior.

 

Surviving bullying and violence in schools deprive children of self-confidence, because their rights are violated precisely the place where they spend most of their time for more than ten years and where should feel secure and safe. It is here that children make their first steps towards independence, where he met with the first examples of compliance and conformity with each other and with the basic rules of human behavior and relationships. That is why it is so important to be open education system to meet the needs and challenges of children through this extremely delicate period of human development. Abused children have the right to be assisted in the process of their physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration.

Interactive techniques for working with groups include different exercises through which children experience different emotions provoked in thinking and processing of experiences, develops a sense of competence and self-esteem. It creates a positive atmosphere in the group, builds a bond of trust and empathy between the participants, and helps to understand and respect personal boundaries regarding bullying at school.

The school needs to develop a sense of the arts, music, theater, real science, excursions and successful real life. Moreover, these skills can make the school sustainable in the future. Young people are not lazy, and what motivates them is their ignorance, lack of innovation in education and freedom to decide for themselves what to learn and how to learn. Education must be adapted to the interests of the students and their opportunities.

„Education must provide a compass for children to develop in life and in the workplace. Let’s create the future, not learn from the past,“ Andreas Schleicher, Special Counselor for Education Policy of the Secretary-General, called in a video message during the conference of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Nedyalka Marinova Tsoneva

Deputy Director for Educational Activities at PSA “Nikola Pushkarov”, Popovo town, Bulgaria

Coordinator for the Project “„Mediation – a tool for conflict management”

under the Erasmus + programme, Key Activities 1 „Educational mobility for citizens“, sector „School Education“

First part

Project „Mediation – a tool for conflict management“

 

Project Summary

Professional School of Agriculture „Nikola Pushkarov“ is a school which possesses resources to offer a wider variety of educational possibilities out of one shift education in class and to offer modern pegagogical methods of work, thanks to realizing projects on European programmes. The provided education on project „Mediation – a tool for conflict management“ on „Erasmus+“ programme, Key Activities 1 „Educational mobility for citizens“, sector „School Education“ gave to the teachers appropriate techniques and forms for fulfilling communication, methods for building up additional „life skills“ and working models for Peer mediation. Teacher qualification is an exclusively important factor, dealing directly with the growth and education of the students. This present project helped the pedagogical staff to develop specific skills of education and upbringing, as well as skills for managing bullying and aggression among students.

The project was focused on raising of methodical qualification of the teachers through training in European educational organizations. As a result of the ten-day education ten teachers assimilated good European practices for dealing with bullying and aggression among young people. These practices were multiplicated among teachers, parents and students on the follow-up trainings and practicums. Part of the assimilated methods for dealing with demotivation in students as a major factor for appearing of bullying are: creating and working in group, applying of interactive methods in education, vocational and career development, studying and improving of knowledge on foreign languages, applying of Information and computer technologies in education, developing of interinstitutional and cross-border interaction for increasing the quality of the education offered.

The educational organization Math Advantage Centre planned ten-day education providing lecturers from University of Barcelona and active school mediators from town of Sabadell. They provided suitable teaching environment and visiting school centers of Mediation. They also ensured meetings-conversations with mediators for sharing good practices. They invited educators to present us the program TEI (Peer Mediation).

The education on this particular project expanded our High School Portfolio with the consecutive innovation in our region. Applying of Mediation as a tool for conflict management and motivating of students for taking an active civil position for mutual help shows the concern of pedagogues for psychic condition of the coming generation as an important factor for their development. The prevention of bullying in schools requires particular organizational and pedagogical approaches, concentrated in the school as an institution but including students, parents, local community and institutions. For creating, a net of interested parties and group work were organized 12 trainings divided as following: 10 trainings for students, one for parents and one for pedagogical and non-pedagogical staff of our High school. As a result of the provided trainings and the experience gained the participants in the project wrote a book „Mediation – a tool for conflict management“ in Bulgarian and English.

During these trainings there were created mechanisms for cooperation between teachers, students and parents. The school collaboration known also as a school mediation is an active and effective form of preventing bullying and aggression in school. It could be applied from teachers as well as students and parents. Through school mediation we could help students avoid making mistakes and not to repeat their previous mistakes or other people’s mistakes.

With the successful realization of the project, our school is prepared to find out the early signals of estrangement of students from school, as a consequence of discomfort caused by bullying amongst students. Teachers are prepared to react in due time to such signals long before the problems deepened. Our PSA „Nikola Pushkarov“ keeps its vision of an accessible and tolerant school, having recruited motivated and innovative teachers who use a variety of teaching methods taking into consideration the needs of the students.

Mediation is a positive and incorporating approach, creating evolutionary decisions on problems through the voices of the students themselves including equally all the participants. It really adds to a constructive school environment of serenity, motivation for communication, responsibility, tolerance and accepting differences.

The European Plan for Development of Professional School of Agriculture „Nikola Pushkarov“

The contemporary teacher has a  unique image and possesses the following characteristics which he/she has to develop: to realize his/her mission in the job; to own masterly his/her professional role; to create a special field of creative interaction with the students i.e. special psychological comfort for co-work and collaboration; to achieve the highest possible results at school, regional and national level; to have investigative techniques and to put them into practice; to realize him/herself as a professionalism, to protect his/her positions and to own methodological and methodical culture for that.

The participation of the teachers in this education was useful, motivating and activating because through it the teachers expanded their professional and multicultural view of life, increased their self-esteem for dealing with the bullying and aggression in school, transferred valuable European model and spreader it at school among teachers and students. Taking part in the project teachers improved their self-confidence in applying school mediation for prevention and intervention when students drop out of school. 

After finishing all the trainings there was created a school center for Peer Mediation where teachers and students will be partners to maintain the good microclimate in school. The students were trained in Peer Mediation – an innovation in Spain, which the participants transferred and applied in our PSA „Nikola Pushkarov“. Punishment as a conflict management technique is an obsolete and ineffective method and often leads to reverse effect i.e. increasing the aggression while Peer Mediation helps students alone and voluntarily to work out their conflicts, gain more abilities for managing conflicts and taking responsibilities. Peer Mediation is a way of negotiations on separate conflicts and find decisions appropriate to the needs of all parties without the need to compromise. The Mediation in schools aims to help students in case of conflicts with other students, teachers or parents and to have a clear vision of themselves and their relationships with the rest of the people.

Integration of the knowledge gained in the mobility within students leads to more effective and purposeful implementing of modern education responding to European standards – entertaining, interactive, guaranteeing assimilating of long lasting knowledge and skills.

With implementing of the qualification there were worked out suitable methods and ways of effective management of the classroom for pedagogical interaction over increasing the motivation among students for developing entrepreneurial and social skills, for developing skills to make decisions on problems through dialogues adjustment for seeking help and support.

The fulfilled mobility gave the participants the possibility to expand their view of life and their knowledge at all levels, to help the students to have an adequate self-assessment and to step into the other person’s shoes who is a party in the conflict. 

Executing the foreseeing European mobility, the teachers who took part in it increased their motivation for studying foreign languages and started applying new mechanisms with positive impact. The built-up social and intercultural relations are a prerequisite for new interschool partnerships and to raise the authority of our PSA „Nikola Pushkarov“ in a professional aspect.

The multiplicities effect of spreading the experience converted the educational process in modern, dynamic, attracting and provoking one.

Online platforms Erasmus +

Using the abilities of the platform (The School Education Gateway ) the teachers were introduced to the theme of Mediation. They searched and found good practices of colleagues to integrate in their own work. Every lecturer motivated them to absorb practical skills for applying the School Peer Mediation and to change their way of work, following the European tendencies in the education and upbringing of young people.

Through this portal e-Twinning the teachers were included in groups of interests and they shared opinions, experience and practices with other teachers. They created groups for future partnerships and sharing their international experience.

Professional School of Agriculture „Nikola Pushkarov“and Math Advantage Center

The theme of school mediation enters more and more in the schoolwork. We got to the conclusion that if the students feel calm and protected they learn more efficiently, change their inner motivation and use the potential of their brains more successfully.

When the idea for educating teachers in school mediation and transferring the experience in PSA „Nikola Pushkarov“ came up we started browsing the net for and various educational platforms and forums for information about educational organization that offers education on this particular theme. We had some inquiries to different European organizations for the educations they offer and to what degree they correspond to our needs i.e. we searched for practical education which to give the teachers in our High School confidence in managing school conflicts and to improve their professional qualification and motivation for applying innovative techniques in school.

We got the information for the educational organization Math Advantage Centre through our business email from the Centre itself. We examined the internet site of this particular educational organization, especially its experience and possibilities for organizing and educating adults. We had quite lot phone conversations concerning the needs of the pedagogical specialists at school and our desire to transfer and apply pedagogical techniques for conflict management that have been successfully applied in Spain for years and on. In response to our searching Math Advantage Centre offered educational programme presented by well-known specialists in the school mediation and the programme covered completely our aims. There were additional activities included in the programme and for the hosting organization like: tutorship, certification, final report on the project activities, organizing transport for participants, accommodation, food provision as well as cultural programme for going sightseeing in the days free of lectures. The Centre disposes of abundant material base and qualified staff and lecturers. All that is a premise for quality fulfilment of the foreseen activities in the project, approving techniques and mechanisms for applying mediation as a toll for conflict management.

In order to prepare the education and to realize the project our High School and Math Advantage Centre carried out many phone conversations as well as using social Medias for making contacts, we also used email to make the programme and the schedule more precise and the ways to validate the whole education. Through these multiple conversations, we specified the needs of the pedagogical specialists and their motivation for improvement. We commented on the planned activities, themes and days of education; we planned the theory and practice classes, according to the activity rate that lecturers have in the University of Barcelona as well as the activity rate of the mediators in schools. The schedule was planned according to the ability of the institutions to be our hosts. Via email we defined more accurately the assessment cards of the beneficiaries, the criteria for providing monitoring and validating of the assimilated competences. We commented on logistic matters, connected to accommodation, food provision and transport to the educational center. Both sides were looking for the best practical decisions in due time when a question arised.

There was a contract signed between the host and guest organization in which were defined duties and responsibilities of each of the parts. The host organization was engaged with arranging the stay and the quality education through mobility as well as dealing with any problems during the stay. The guest organization was engaged with arranging the selection of the beneficiaries motivated to upgrade their knowledge and to apply innovations within the sphere of school education.

Monitoring of the mobility aiming education was carried out by the executive body of our School. It was duty and responsibility of both organizations to strictly fulfill the working programme of the education and realizing all the planned activities in the project. To the contract was attached engagement for quality execution of the activities in the project and a working programme.

The guest organization signed contracts with every beneficiary in the project. There was an agreement prepared for qualitative fulfilment of the activities in the project signed by three parties – guest organization, host organization and a beneficiary. There was a detailed programme for the education attached to the contract and following the activities. There were listed the sanctions which will follow in case of failure to execute from any of the parties.

Management of practical and logistical issues

The organization of the transport for realizing the mobility was a complete care of the sending/guest organization i.e. PSA „N.Pushkarov“

Each participant in the mobility had a stay travel insurance. All of the teachers had European Health insurance card – a document that allows using emergency health care (medical and dental one) in the country you are staying.

Tutorship and support – they were ensured by the hosts, who organized a room for the education, teaching materials and computers for each participant. The accommodation and food provision was also the concern of the hosting organization.

The tutors in the face of Math Advantage Centre carried out all theoretical and practical activities, realized obligatory monitoring and control of the users of the mobility and lecturers. They kept a close watch on execution of the programme and in the end of the mobility assessed the achievements of the beneficiaries in the project.

Tutors in the preliminary computer preparation were the person available for contacts on the project and an IT teacher in the school. The aim of this preliminary preparation was for beneficiaries to gain skills in creating in web based content; to be able to create blogs for sharing good practices and to use teaching platforms.

Tutor in the preliminary language preparation was a teacher from our school. The aim of it was to revise already known material and to learn specific terms connected to mediation.

The evaluation and the analyses of individual achievements of the participants was carried out by an exam set by the hosting organization. There were poll cards filled in for reverse connection, which contain information for the usefulness of the mobility aiming education.

The executive body of our school fulfilled monitoring during mobility. They followed and examined the stage of education and working meetings while creating the Handbook. They kept a close eye on every single participant involved and at a conference organized after the finishing of the project; they made a detailed analyses on the provided course.

Beneficiaries of the project

The profession of teacher is а vocational, competence and recognition. For each teacher, the most precious thing is the student’s recognition of his/her teacher’s work. The teacher is called upon to improve his/her skills and competences throughout life and to properly teach others how to study and develop. The motto of each teacher is „There are no bad students, there are students with specific needs.“ Pupils need attention, understanding, sharing, listening, noticing and support. The teacher takes on part of the responsibilities of parents with the sole purpose of „a literate society with a built value system“ and preserve the noble profession of a teacher. It is also very significant for the career development of teachers their participation in different projects and program schemes.

The beneficiaries on the project possess the following professional qualities: emotional stability, good rhetoric, communicative skills, listening skills, which they developed fully and enriched them with working models from Spain. The participants in the project have the ambition and the will to improve their competences. In their everyday work they often apply role games, simulations and other innovative techniques and thus they turn PSA „Nikola Pushkarov“ into an interesting and attractive place for creative learning.

Priceless for everyone are the activities and experience gained in the implementation of the Mediation – a tool for Conflict Management project, developing competence and cross-border cooperation for mutual assistance.

A specialized course of training organizations on the implementation of innovation „School mediation“ to deal with aggression has not been offered to the school staff. There is a strong need to educate pedagogues to address the negative attitudes of pupils and parents to the educational process. Very often, the reason for the growing aggression among students is the unwillingness to learn, which develops into destructive behavior during classes. Not managing the situation would lead to school dropouts, an increase in the number of illiterates, an increase in the number of the unemployed, an increase in antisocial behavior and the refusal to work as a teacher, which is an emerging trend in European countries recently.

The project has strengthened the drive for every mobile user to improve and change for the better. Regardless of the thematic area in which he teaches the lifestyle he is leading, this aspiration is leading and determines largely the sense of success and satisfaction. It is this sense of satisfaction that causes teachers to seek a change in the way they teach and evaluate, ways to motivate and retain pupils at school.

The change in turn creates new conditions and sets new requirements for which teachers need to be prepared. The learning process takes on a new form, new content. By applying what had been learned during mobility, introducing new methods to motivate students and overcome negative attitudes, is changed the usual learning environment with a new one. The education in Spain gave pedagogues an innovative model of interaction, an innovative learning process in a more unusual setting, and a friendly atmosphere where students feel free and already partners who wish to experiment.

In recent years, pedagogues have difficulties working with 50% of schoolchildren connected to unwillingness to go to school, disrespecting the rules of school life, class or school society as a whole, with destructive behavior arising in aggression. Obstacles to be overcome are not serious attitude of students and parents towards education, unwillingness and demotivation of students to continue their education in colleges or universities, lack of ambition for success and development of the personal potential of each student and sadly aggression between students or from students towards teachers, which is becoming more often nowadays.

The main goal of the educators is to provide quality education and innovative pedagogical practices for attracting and retaining pupils at school.

By working in a team, teachers systematically increase their professional qualifications, acquire new skills to cope with the growing demotivation of students, and build habits for the systematic application of innovations in the teaching and assessment of learning outcomes. At the core of school education is the building of the human personality, of her civic position, of the formation of her knowledge, skills, competences and attitudes.

That is why it is precisely through school education that it is most appropriate and timely to work purposefully and in real situations for the formation of a culture of peaceful resolution of the growing conflicts and aggression in the school environment.

Alongside the change in pupils’ attitudes, it is necessary to change the role of the teacher whose task is not only to teach knowledge, but also to facilitate the learning process. The modern teacher is expected to build a brand new type of connection between himself and the learners, to move from the role of „soloist“ to the role of „accompanist“, becoming less the person who teaches knowledge than in a person who helps the students to discover, organize and use knowledge.

Project activities

  1. Presentation of the project

Promotion of project goals, activities and results to high school pedagogical staff – on the school’s website, local radio, local newspaper and local cable TV and social networks.

  1. Selection of beneficiaries

Each of the candidates for participation in the training applied to the application package the following documents: Application; Privacy Statement; A statement that he / she had not been a beneficiary for such or the same training before; CV Curriculum Vitae; Motivational letter describing its goals and expectations from the project; Information about high school conflicts and personal experience in conflict management; Summary of the Personal Teacher’s Portfolio;

The selected specialists had to meet the following requirements: Have the working level of English proficiency; Be motivated to learn, to be innovative in their professional work; Be ready to apply the acquired knowledge in conflict management; Have experience in organizing and organizing trainings, seminars, conferences and educational events with students; Have computer literacy; Have worked in the secondary education system for at least 8 years; Have at least Fifth professional qualification degree acquired or actively participate in qualification courses.

In this project were included teachers of general education, the pedagogical counselor and the medical specialist in our high school. They all are participants with a need to acquire new knowledge and experience, to tackle school aggression, willing to use new methods to influence students’ internal motivation, to learn and use innovative methods to improve their own work.

  1. Beneficiaries’ selection criteria were as follows:

First Stage – Bundle of Documents: The candidate could receive a maximum of 5 points for the motivation letter, portfolio, and sharing of personal experience. Total -15 points.

Second Stage: The candidates have passed an English language test / working level /. The maximum number of test points is 20.

Third Stage: Interview with each candidate to share experiences and outcomes of school retention activities to prevent aggression; his/her motivation for development; using innovation in their work and attract adherents. A three-member committee conducted the interview and each member could give a maximum of 10 points / max. For the participant – 30 points /

The maximum number of points after all stages is 65 points.

A commission, designated by the school principal, assessed the candidates’ presentation at each stage. Prepared a protocol after each stage and a final report as well as a list of candidates admitted to training. The selection was fair, open, transparent and documented.

  1. Preliminary preparation

The preliminary pedagogical, language and cultural preparation was carried out by teachers from our professional school – all specialist in corresponding area of knowledge. Three of the beneficiaries possess the needed knowledge and skills and taught the rest of the participants free of charge. The preliminary preparation was organized aiming every user of the mobility to be confident and to be able to pass the education of the project effortlessly.

Education related to creating a site or blog using the program Word Press and work in web based platforms /Google applications, Moodle/. Duration of the course – 30 classes.

Language preparation was specially designed to revise previous knowledge up to B1 Level as well as exercising specific terms connected to mediation applied in the education. Duration of the course – 30 classes.

  1. Training in Spain

Theoretical and practical part: The conflict behavior in school. Creating a Confidence Environment. Emotional stability for taking adequate and fast decisions – tools. School of the future – motivation of teachers for a change. Mechanisms for influence on the aggression. Interaction with the interested parties. Identifying of the first signals of aggression in students. Results from applying of school mediation in Spain. Training to motivate students in class. Preventing aggression to create a School of the Future. Training: „Teacher profession is vocation, competence and recognition“. Seminar: Presentation of collected examples of tackling aggression.

Transferring of the successful experiences in mediation in Bulgarian schools. Ways and means of exchanging of good experiences.

The project participants had the opportunity to get acquainted with the experience and best practices in implementing school mediation. The lecturers were Pedro Jurado, Frances Xavier Moreno Oliver, Patricia Sanz Lopez, Palau del Pulgar Maria-Eulalia, Monika Stefanova and Luydmila Balkandzieva. They attended Escola Industrial Sabadell School and talked to the Director, Mediators and Teachers. The motto of the school is „Do we make projects or understand the life of the school as a big project?“ https://www.escolaindustrial.org/?p=3945

Training participants have the opportunity to learn new models to address bullying and aggression at school, to establish friendly relationships with teachers from related schools, and to have direct contacts with mediators and mediators in Barcelona and Sabadell

Among the useful hours for improving the qualification, the participants had the opportunity to do a cultural tour of Barcelona.

  1. Trainings in Bulgaria

The models of mediation were distributed among the pedagogical and non-pedagogical staff of the PSA „N.Pushkarov“ on training held on May 14, 2019.

For the students of the high school ten trainings were organized by each participant in the mobility. For two months, pupils were trained and those of them who showed interest and wish were awarded a certificate for Madams mediators or mentors to younger students.

In this way, we strive to introduce the innovative „Mentoring between Equals“ program.

  1. Dissemination of Project Results

The promotion and spreading of project results are an important part of educational mobility activities.

  • Information leaflets – at the beginning and end of the project activities.
  • Book „Mediation – a tool for conflict management” – 100 books in Bulgarian and English
  • Articles in the local newspaper – One issue;
  • Local radio interview – Two issue;
  • System publications on the school’s website and Facebook profile https://bg-bg.facebook.com/pgssnp;
  • Conferences – Two issues;
  • A new website for the project http://mediaciq.pgss-popovo.com/;
  • A new submenu on the school’s website about the activities and project outcomes http://pgss-popovo.com/?p=erazym.

Information leaflets were distributed at the beginning and end of the project activities.

The participants prepared specific case studies and situations in their subject area and their solution, which can be found in the Book „Mediation – a tool for conflict management”. The prepared Book is distributed to teachers from the region, partners, and all interested parties.

Two conferences were organized at the beginning and end of the activities of the project on diagnosing problems in Bulgarian education related to aggression and bullying at school and a final conference where the participants of the course shared opinions on the effect and change that took place after the training. The conferences were attended by partners of the PSA „Nikola Pushkarov, the parents’ community, and through the media the event reached to the public in the municipalities of Popovo and Opaka and Targovishte.

Especially for this project, a new sub-menu is being developed at the school’s website http://pgss-popovo.com/?p=erazym, which present the summary, justification, objectives, tasks and project management, the training program, information about what happens during each stage of mobility, as well as the learning outcomes and their dissemination.

We have created a project site http://mediaciq.pgss-popovo.com/, which describes the experience gained by the beneficiaries as well as practical guidelines for the implementation of school mediation.

In this way, experience and certain European mediation practices are presented and disseminated as a tool for conflict management. The knowledge gained during the exchange is an opportunity for them to be used by other organizations, institutions and individuals working in the field. Discussions on these issues are used to talk over and make changes to secondary education.

After completion of all trainings, a School Mediation Center was set up, promoted to the public through the local media – Local newspaper and local cable TV „Skat“. Organized Mentoring among Equals demonstrates the functionality of this mediation model in which the third party helps impartially the two or more athletes to resolve the conflict with each other.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and skills acquired during educational mobility have encouraged teachers to confidently apply new techniques and methods of cooperation, as well as different models of prevention and intervention of aggressive behavior. The training helped the participants to develop their practical skills related to interaction with students and parents, to allocate responsibilities, duties and activitiesр to preserve and develop children’s creativity.

Through the „Learning by Case“ and „Brainstorming“ methods, teachers have applied school mediation and gained the trust of students. They generated different learning strategies through active learning, evoked changes in learners’ education and education, and spread the novelties of learning experience. All these acquired or improved competencies enable teachers to be more effective and more motivated to apply good long-term work.

In the context of lifelong learning, the knowledge and new skills have helped users to carry out activities that are at the service of pupils and their parents at every stage of their life.

By realizing, the present project each participant in the education:

  • Achieved new skills for dealing with aggression;
  • Expand their knowledge for motivating the students;
  • Raised the authority of the teacher who commits personal help and support in the students’ development;
  • Gained confidence when applying school mediation in and out of class;
  • Improved language skills and competences and learned new material;
  • Gained personal satisfaction and strong motivation to work;
  • Gained support from all the parties involved in the process;
  • Created an equip for complete support of students at school.

After the fulfilment of the education in Spain and realizing the planned activities in the project in Bulgaria there were reached the following aims concerning the indirect participants in the project i.e. students: interesting and innovative education and teaching, partnership with teachers when managing life and educational matters, personal support, higher motivation for life and following their dreams, reducing number of absence, reducing aggression, satisfaction with the school choice.

Criteria for highly rated project is the media interest. And the activity and commitment of the interested parties.

Impact

Modern education is required to give today’s students not only knowledge but also to form skills and build positive attitudes towards a meaningful life. Unfortunately, however, reality is different. Everyone is dissatisfied with the contemporary education system:

  • Students do not see a connection between education and their real needs, motives, interests.
  • Parents complain about the lack of correspondence between education and life.
  • Society sees the low efficiency and tangible inadequacy between resources and investment in education and the results obtained.

The qualification course is related to creating skills to provide general personal support. The selection of a qualification course and the observation of the good practices of teachers from Spain was determined by the fact that Spain has completed the reform of education and the percentage of dropouts decreased.

Managing and resolving conflicting situations through mediation leads to the achievement of understanding among team members, in class, in the group, providing them with conditions for working together. The peaceful management of many existing conflicts is the only guarantee that society will not be subject to a destructive social explosion.

School mediation, also known as Peer mediation, has proven good pedagogical practice to tackle global aggression. Its application at school is an expression of our concern for the safety of our children, the cohesion of the school community and the success of Bulgarian education. Everyone can apply mediation it is enough to be trained and to believe that violence is not a way to resolve conflicts. Moreover, that a properly resolved conflict can make us better professionals, stronger and more solid. In many countries in the European Union, school mediation is an established tool for conflict management. It helps not only deal with specific problem situations but also learns to take responsibility for their own behavior, to make choices and to accept the willingness to pay the price of this choice. The peaceful resolution of conflicts, whose instrument is mediation, is part of the quality of the educational service, a quality we all strive for.

The qualification that had taken place was beneficial to teachers because it raise their knowledge and skills to tackle school aggression and create interest in learning as a first step towards school dropouts. It is important for the implementation of the National Lifelong Learning Program to have more teachers applying the innovations in education – experimenting, creating, and thinking innovative. The pursuit of sustainable development and European integration and the entry of mankind into the age of technology have led to the need for changes in all areas of life, including education. 

The vision of the Sustainable Development School is: a school with a contemporary look that has embraced sustainable development as a credo; a competitive school, preparing pupils for social realization, forming national and human virtues; to improve the professional skills of the pedagogical college and to establish a team of highly responsible individuals, showing tolerance, concern and respect for human dignity; applying creative and critical thinking in the implementation of the educational process for the establishment of the young person as a citizen of Bulgaria and the world.

 

Second part

Extremes are easy. Strive for balance. Colin Wright

 

What is Mediation?

  • Mediation may be thought of as „assisted negotiation“.
  • Negotiation may be thought of as „communications for agreement“.
  • Hence, mediation is „assisted communications for agreement“.

Central to mediation is the concept of „informed consent.“ So long as participants understand the nature of a contemplated mediation process and effectively consent to participate in the described process, virtually any mediation process is possible and appropriate.

Mediation is a dynamic, structured, interactive process where a neutral third party assists disputing parties in resolving conflict through the use of specialized communication and negotiation techniques. All participants in mediation are encouraged to actively participate in the process. Mediation is a „party-centered“ process in that it is focused primarily upon the needs, rights, and interests of the parties. The mediator uses a wide variety of techniques to guide the process in a constructive direction and to help the parties find their optimal solution. A mediator is facilitative in that she/he manages the interaction between parties and facilitates open communication.

The term „mediation“ broadly refers to any instance in which a third party helps others reach agreement. More specifically, mediation has a structure, timetable and dynamics that „ordinary“ negotiation lacks. The process is private and confidential, possibly enforced by law. Participation is typically voluntary. The mediator acts as a neutral third party and facilitates rather than directs the process. Mediation is becoming a more peaceful and internationally accepted solution in order to end conflict. Mediation can be used to resolve disputes of any magnitude.

School peer mediation

  • A little piece of history: Negotiation, arbitration and mediation are as old as human being. Despite what the movies show us, many ancient cultures all over the world settled arguments by peaceful persuasion rather than by sword. Ancient villages had at least one leader who was skilled at helping people solve problems (wise men, elders, intercessors, conciliators …). It has been and it still is a traditional form of conflict resolution in some parts of Asia and Africa. Mediation really came into play with the advent of international treaties. History of mediation was the history of diplomacy.
  • First school mediation programmes were born in the USA in the 60’ linked to peace and justice education . (The Teaching Students to be Peacemakers initiative was the first Peer Mediation program. ) This conflict-solving philosophy moved to Canada, New Zealand and UK in the 70’ and 80’. The first school peer mediation programmes began to develop in the 90’ in Europe (1992 in UK, 1993 in Spain).
  • What is the difference between mediation and arbitration? Arbitration involves decision. Mediation is a process of making decision by a person who hears communication in both sides and reaches a decision by people with a dispute, about the disposition or assisted by a mediator, reach resolution of the dispute. an agreement, understanding, or reconciliation. The mediator is a neutral. The arbitrator is a decision-facilitatormakeр.
  • What do Mediation and Circles have in common? Identical aims: Solve conflicts. Build community (dialogue culture). Allow participants to solve their conflicts by their own. Allow participants to express their thoughts, feelings and needs. Invite parties to formulate their own solutions and take responsibilities for their actions
  • Can prevent conflicts and misunderstandings from becoming protracted and destructive disputes. Improve basic competences such as: communication skills; social and emotional learning; critical thinking; empathy. But also:self-esteem; self-responsibility; sense of belonging.
  • Encourage future co-operation. Voluntary, positive and fair process. Confidentiality, structured goal directed process that follows clear steps. Can be applied across school community.
  • Differences: Persons in conflict are disputants: no wrongdoers, no victims. Only disputants and mediators participate in the process. Mediation may not be useful for all conflicts-solving.
  • Things that can be mediated at school: Relationship difficulties, arguments, disputes, rumour and gossip, being left out, name calling, friends falling out, feeling something isn’t fair, people feel others are picking or teasing on them. Racial or cultural confrontation.
  • It is commonly accepted that school peer mediators should not deal with: Family matters, breaking the law, school rules or property, violent actions, theft, drugs, abuse Bullying “anything to do with teeth, skin and hair”–Tyrell, 2002.
  • Remember, we’re not looking for who’s right or wrong… WE’RE LOOKING FOR AN AGREEMENT!

Key Qualities of the Mediation Process

  • Voluntary – You can leave at any time for any reason, or no reason.
  • Collaborative – As no participant in mediation can impose anything on anyone, everyone is motivated to work together to solve the issues and reach best agreements.
  • Controlled – Each participant has complete decision-making power and a veto over each and every provision of any mediated agreement. Nothing can be imposed on you.
  • Confidential – Mediation is generally confidential, as you desire and agree, be that by statute, contract, rules of evidence and/or privilege.
  • Informed – The mediation process offers a full opportunity to obtain and incorporate legal and other expert information and advice. Individual or mutually acceptable experts can be retained. Expert advice is never determinative in mediation. The participants always retain decision-making power. Mediators are bound to encourage parties to obtain legal counsel and to advise them to have any mediated agreement involving legal issues reviewed by independent legal counsel prior to signing. Whether legal advice is sought is, ultimately, a decision of each mediation participant.
  • Impartial, Neutral, Balanced and Safe – The mediator has an equal and balanced responsibility to assist each mediating party and cannot favor the interests of any one party over another, nor should the mediator favor a particular result in the mediation. The mediator’s role is to ensure that parties reach agreements in a voluntarily and informed manner, and not as a result of coercion or intimidation.
  • Self-Responsible and Satisfying – Based upon having actively participated in voluntarily resolving issues, participant satisfaction and the likelihood of compliance are found to be elevated through mediation compared to court options.

Concern about violence in the schools has made the study of conflict and conflict management an urgent matter for educators today. Mediation is one form of conflict management that is getting widespread attention in schools . Mediation involves a neutral third person, called a mediator, who assists the disputants in resolving their problem with the consent of all parties. It offers a risk free way to settle disputes for the parties involved in the dispute.

Conflict is a normal, natural part of everyday life. The word conflict has its roots in the Latin word conflictus, meaning „striking together.“ Despite the violent overtones of its Latin translation, conflict and violence are not synonymous. However, unresolved and lingering conflict frequently leads to violence, interfering with productivity and the quality of life in schools and the community. Extensive data illustrate that instances of violence, including bias-related violence and disciplinary problems in schools around the country, are severely interfering with the learning environment of students.

Schools have attempted to manage interpersonal conflicts among students, teachers, and administrators by various models of discipline, such as referrals to the principal’s office, detention, suspension, and expulsion. Yet, it does not appear that these methods teach the students the problem solving and conflict resolution skills they need for life to resolve conflict in a productive, non-violent way. Dissatisfaction with traditional processes established to settle disputes has led educators and others to try new ways of conflict resolution such as mediation.

Peer mediation programs, where students are trained generally to resolve disputes involving other students, have been shown to be an effective means of resolving disputes in school settings. Success rates of 58% to 93% have been achieved at various sites where success was measured by whether an agreement was reached and maintained at the time of a follow-up evaluation. There is anecdotal evidence that students transfer the mediation techniques learned in school to settings beyond the classroom. Students have reported using their mediation skills to resolve disputes at home with their siblings and in their community with peers.

Both mediators and disputants benefit from the mediation training and conflict resolution process. Students who are taught the skills of mediating disputes learn political skills which can be used beyond the classroom. Student mediators learn to listen effectively, summarize accurately, and think critically. Further, they develop skills on how to solve problems, to lead, to write, and to foster meaningful discussion among disputants. Since mediation seeks to solve a dispute and prevent its recurrence, student mediators learn to plan for the future. They learn about responsibilities as well as rights, about consequences as well as choices.

Disputants involved in mediation also learn many of these same lessons. More importantly, maybe for the first time in their lives, they learn non-violent ways that they can choose to resolve their conflicts. They learn that they can succeed at resolving conflicts peaceably, that they can resolve problems without resorting to violence. They also develop a capacity to empathize with others.

This creates and bringing mediation programs into schools. Do you begin by teaching everyone the skills of conflict resolution, or do you begin by training a small group of peer mediators? Either approach may be used at the start of a program, but there is a need to eventually teach everyone in the school community the skills involved in mediating disputes, so that the broader goals are achieved. Success of peer mediation should be studied in terms of broader issues of changing ways of thinking about and responding to conflict as well as specific improvements in school discipline and student behavior.

At the elementary school level, mediators generally work in teams on the playground, in the lunchroom, or in the classroom. Intervention is often immediate, with the mediators coming up to the disputants and asking if they would like to try to settle their problems. If they agree, the mediators and disputants move to a clear area and begin the mediation process. If the disputants refuse to participate, the mediators move on. Their job is to help parties resolve their disputes, not to police the area.

At the secondary level, peer mediators often have cases referred to them for mediation. These mediations take place in more formal settings, such as an empty office or classroom set aside for the mediation program.

History

Mediator’s chamber at Ryswick (1697)

The activity of mediation appeared in very ancient times. The practice developed in Ancient Greece , then in Roman civilization. (Roman law, starting from Justinian’s Digest of 530–533 CE) recognized mediation. The Romans called mediators by a variety of names, including internuncius, medium, intercessor, philantropus, interpolator, conciliator, interlocutor, interpres, and finally mediator.

Some cultures regarded the mediator as a sacred figure, worthy of particular respect; and the role partly overlapped with that of traditional wise men or tribal chief. Members of peaceful communities frequently brought disputes before local leaders or wise men to resolve local conflicts. This peaceful method of resolving conflicts was particularly prevalent in communities of Confucians and Buddhists.

Many people think that mediation is an informal process, in which a friendly mediator chats with the disputants until they suddenly drop their hostilities and work together for the common good. In fact, mediation is a multi-stage process designed to get results. It is less formal than a trial or arbitration, but there are distinct stages to the mediation process. Most mediations proceed as follows:

  • Stage 1: Mediator’s Opening Statement. After the disputants are seated at a table, the mediator introduces everyone, explains the goals and rules of the mediation, and encourages each side to work cooperatively toward a settlement.
  • Stage 2: Disputants’ Opening Statements. Each party is invited to describe, in his or her own words, what the dispute is about and how he or she has been affected by it, and to present some general ideas about resolving it. While one person is speaking, the other is not allowed to interrupt.
  • Stage 3: Joint Discussion. The mediator may try to get the parties talking directly about what was said in the opening statements. This is the time to determine what issues need to be addressed.
  • Stage 4: Private Caucuses. The private caucus is a chance for each party to meet privately with the mediator (usually in a nearby room) to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of his or her position and new ideas for settlement. The mediator may caucus with each side just once, or several times, as needed. These private meetings are considered the guts of mediation.
  • Stage 5: Joint Negotiation. After caucuses, the mediator may bring the parties back together to negotiate directly.
  • Stage 6: Closure. This is the end of the mediation. If an agreement has been reached, the mediator may put its main provisions in writing as the parties listen. The mediator may ask each side to sign the written summary of agreement or suggest they take it to lawyers for review. If the parties want to, they can write up and sign a legally binding contract. If no agreement was reached, the mediator will review whatever progress has been made and advise everyone of their options, such as meeting again later, going to arbitration, or going to court.

Users: Students, teachers, administrators, and parents involved in conflicts in or about the school.

Description: Schools are often a microcosm of the larger community. Larger issues such as race, class and religion get played out in schools, often leading to intense, long-term conflicts. Unfortunately, conflicts in schools strain already tight resources–both money and time.  This can force a school into a downward spiral of conflict producing more conflict. Because of this, many schools have turned to alternative conflict resolution techniques.

Peer Mediation

Peer mediation has become very popular in schools all over the world. In the late 1990s, a Harvard study estimated that there were over 8,000 such programs implemented across the US, and the approach has continued to grow in popularity, although newer numbers seem hard to come by.  The approach is popular, however, because it is a very successful response to conflict between students. Schools that use peer mediation report many benefits. One major one is teaching children problem-solving skills at a young age means that they will have those skills for the rest of their lives. In addition, schools report that the use of peer mediation has reduced behavior problems and suspension rates. Anecdotally, teachers notice higher self-esteem and confidence in students who participate in peer mediation.

Peer mediation has evolved since the 1980s when it was first implemented. In the beginning, just a small group of elite students would learn peer mediation. Now, it is understood that peer mediation works best with a diverse group of students. Experts recommend that peer mediators should be shy students, loud students, high-risk students, etc. A diverse group of students does a better job of reaching their peers, and they also benefit more from peer mediation. Shy students become more confident, loud students learn patience, etc.

There are several different types of peer mediation programs. In curriculum-based programs, conflict resolution is taught in the classroom. It can be a specific unit on conflict resolution, or combined with other subjects.  School-wide programs can have significant results in elementary schools, where students usually have the same teacher who can reinforce conflict-resolution skills on a daily basis. In these programs, conflict resolution skills are taught first to counselors and administrators and then to teachers and finally to students. In secondary schools, conflict-resolution programs tend to take the form of elective courses or clubs. In higher education, students can either volunteer or become paid mediators.

For all peer mediation programs, administrative support and funding are critical. Often educators fear that it will take time away from the basics and undermine teacher’s authority. Most often, these fears are unfounded. Teachers save time by not having to deal with as much conflict, and most teachers have found that peer mediation supports their authority instead of undermining it.

A peer mediator is one who resembles the disputants, such as being of similar age, attending the same school or having similar status in a business. Purportedly, peers can better relate to the disputants than an outsider.

Peer mediation promotes social cohesion and aids development of protective factors that create positive school climates. This approach reducing bullying and promoting pupil achievement. Schools adopting this process recruit and train interested students to prepare them.

Peer mediation helped reduce crime in schools, saved counselor and administrator time, enhanced self-esteem, improved attendance and encouraged development of leadership and problem-solving skills among students.

Peer Mediation can:

  • Reduce the number of exclusions
  • Reduce incidents of bullying
  • Change repetitive patterns of misbehaviour
  • Resolve minor disputes without adult intervention
  • Improve behaviour and increase respect

Recognising levels of conflict.

It is important to recognise the level of the conflict. Some conflicts can be very difficult to resolve because of the level of the intensity of the feelings, or the conflict may be attached to particular values, beliefs or expectations. For example: – Something happens – Misunderstandings: a number of incidents with the same person can lead  to misunderstandings and increase bad feelings – Bad feelings: this is a feeling that something is not quite right – Payback – More bad feelings – More payback: when there is a high level of tension and feeling between  students it is possible that the students view each other negatively and this can ignite negative feelings and judgments about the other person.

  • Incident: an incident is often unintentional but may be seen as deliberate – Crisis!
  • Тell students the following points:
  • Conflicts occur when people or groups of people have different needs
  • Conflict can arise between two or more people
  • Conflict can be negative or positive
  • Conflict involves differences in attitudes, values, expectations, understandings
  • Conflict can be destructive if not constructively resolved
  • You can see that conflict can be a clash of wishes, needs or interest between people.

Response to Conflict

When conflicts arise, people respond in a variety of ways. Some of the ways people handle problems include:

  • For example, when a person runs away or won‘t talk about it. When avoiding is used, whose needs are met?
  • For example, when both people have to give up something and nobody gets exactly what they want. Whose needs are met?
  • For example, when one person gives in to the other person. Whose needs are met?
  • For example, when both people try to get what they want through fighting. Whose needs are met? This will depend on who wins.
  • When people work through a problem together, both parties‘ needs may be satisfied.

These five styles for managing conflict all have advantages and disadvantages.

Mediator

The mediator’s primary role is to act as a neutral third party who facilitates discussions between the parties. In addition, a mediator serves in an evaluative role when they analyze, assess the issues, and engage in reality-testing. A mediator is neutral and they are not the agent of any party. In their role, mediators do not offer prescriptive advice (e.g., „You should settle this case,“ or, „Your next offer should be X.“). Mediators also manage the interaction between the parties and encourage constructive communication through the use of specialized communication techniques.

Finally, the mediator should restrict pressure, aggression and intimidation, demonstrate how to communicate through employing good speaking and listening skills, and paying attention to non-verbal messages and other signals emanating from the context of the mediation and possibly contributing expertise and experience. The mediator should direct the parties to focus on issues and stay away from personal attacks.

Parties

The role of the parties varies according to their motivations and skills, the role of legal advisers, the model of mediation, the style of mediator and the culture in which the mediation takes place. Legal requirements may also affect their roles. Party-directed mediation (PDM) is an emerging approach involving a pre-caucus between the mediator and each of the parties before going into the joint session. The idea is to help the parties improve their interpersonal negotiation skills so that in the joint session they can address each other with little mediator interference.

Preparation

Choose an appropriate mediator, considering experience, skills, credibility, etc. The criteria for mediator competence is under dispute. Competence certainly includes the ability to remain neutral and to move parties though various impasse-points in a dispute. The dispute is over whether expertise in the subject matter of the dispute should be considered or is actually detrimental to the mediator’s objectivity.

Consider having the mediator meet the disputants prior to the mediation meeting. This can reduce anxiety, improve settlement odds and increase satisfaction with the mediation process.

Ensure that all participants are ready to discuss the dispute in a reasonably objective fashion. Readiness is improved when disputants consider the viability of various outcomes.

Meeting

The typical mediation has no formal compulsory elements, although some elements usually occur:

  • Establishment of ground rules framing the boundaries of mediation;
  • Parties detail their stories;
  • Identification of issues;
  • Clarify and detail respective interests and objectives;
  • Search for objective criteria;
  • Identify options;
  • Discuss and analyze solutions;
  • Adjust and refine proposed solutions;
  • Record agreement in writing.

Individual mediators vary these steps to match specific circumstances, given that the law does not ordinarily govern mediators’ methods.

How Does The Mediation Process Work?

There are 6 steps to a formal mediation; 1) introductory remarks, 2) statement of the problem by the parties, 3) information gathering time, 4) identification of the problems, 5) bargaining and generating options, and 6) reaching an agreement.

  1. Introductory Remarks

The mediator will wait until both parties are present and then make introductions. The physical setting will be controlled so that no party feels threatened. The mediator will then give an opening statement. This outlines the role of the participants and demonstrates the mediator’s neutrality. Some mediators will make comments about what they see as the issue and confirm the case data if briefs have been pre-submitted. Next, the mediator will define protocol and set the time frame for the process. There will be a review of the mediation guidelines and the mediator will briefly recap what it is that he has heard as the issues.

The opening statement during the introductory remarks will set out the ground rules for the mediation. These ground rules are what help the mediation move along smoothly. Parties should not interrupt each other; the mediator will give each party the opportunity to fully share their side of the story.

  1. Statement of the Problem by the Parties

After the opening statement, the mediator will give each side the opportunity to tell their story uninterrupted. Most often, the person who requested the mediation session will go first. The statement is not necessarily a recital of the facts, but it is to give the parties an opportunity to frame issues in their own mind, and to give the mediator more information on the emotional state of each party. The mediator will then ask the client to make a statement. The rationale behind the statement of the problem is not a search for the truth; it is just a way to help solve the problem.

  1. Information Gathering

The mediator will ask the parties open-ended questions to get to the emotional undercurrents. The mediator may repeat back key ideas to the parties, and will summarize often. This helps the mediator build rapport between the parties, especially when a facilitative style is used.

  1. Problem Identification

This might also be part of other segments. The mediator tries to find common goals between the parties. The mediator will figure out which issues are going to be able to settle or those that will settle first.

  1. Bargaining and Generating Options / Reaching an Agreement

Methods for developing options may include group processes, discussion groups or sub groups, developing hypothetical plausible scenarios, or a mediators proposal where the mediator puts a proposal on the table and the parties take turns modifying it. However, the most commonly used method is the caucus.

  1. Reaching an agreement

Once the participants are committed to achieving a negotiated settlement, the mediator will propose a brainstorming session to explore potential solutions. This can lead to a final agreement, which diffuses the conflict and provides a new basis for future relations.

The mediator may decide to hold private sessions with both parties in order to move the negotiations along. This caucus session will be confidential. The caucus provides a safe environment in which to brainstorm and surface underlying fears. The goal of the session is to find some common ground by exploring lots of options, and to bring about possible solutions for the parties to think about. Parties can also entertain alternative solutions to their problems without committing themselves to offer the solutions as concessions.

Mediation is suitable for all kinds of disputes including:-

  • Allegations of bullying – involving adults and/or children;
  • Exclusions and sanctions for pupil misbehaviour;
  • Disputes and complaints by parents;
  • Breach of statutory duty;
  • Assessment and provision of teaching and learning requirements;
  • Allegations of discrimination in respect of pupils and/or staff.

Limitations

Peer mediation is not considered appropriate for cases of severe bullying or issues involving drugs, alcohol or sexual assault, for which schools should have alternative processes and procedures which may involve contacting the police.

Principles

  • Mediation is voluntary

Both of you have to want to mediate, and either of you can stop the mediation process at any time. More and more the courts expect families to attempt mediation before litigation begins, but mediation isn’t always suitable, and no-one can be required to mediate.

  • Mediation is impartial

The mediator does not take sides, and is always there for both of you. Mediators don’t give advice, although they do give information about legal principles and guidance explaining what things you should be thinking about.

  • Mediation is confidential

The information clients share with the mediator is kept confidential, with some very limited exceptions (similar to the exceptions that apply to lawyers, therapists and counsellors). Proposals put forward during mediation cannot be referred to in court proceedings.

  • Mediation is neutral / clients are in charge / equality of parties

The mediator doesn’t make any decisions; you yourselves work out what proposals you both think you would like to take forward.

Willingness

The mediation procedure can be started only if there is an agreement between the parties. Mediation will not be started without both parties intending to resolve the dispute. In such cases, mediation is misused only as a mean of withholding the court process and keeping the situation at the „status quo“.

A mediator needs to know how to explain the advantages of such dispute resolution to the parties, so that they themselves voluntarily agree to be part of such process. The parties should be informed on the possibility to interrupt the mediation process at any stage, if they express need for such.

The principle of willingness applies at all stages of the proceedings. A party or the mediator may at any time withdraw and then transfer the case to the judge. A mediator can interrupt mediation if he/she feels that parties turn away from the solution or that are even more opposed than they were at the start of mediation. The basic principle in the process of mediation is that the mediation procedure should not harm the parties in any way, but to contribute to the resolution of their dispute.

Mediation is another of the methods of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) available to parties. Mediation is essentially a negotiation facilitated by a neutral third party. Unlike arbitration, which is a process of ADR somewhat similar to trial, mediation doesn’t involve decision making by the neutral third party. ADR procedures can be initiated by the parties or may be compelled by legislation, the courts, or contractual terms.

Is Mediation Right for You?

When parties are unwilling or unable to resolve a dispute, one good option is to turn to mediation. Mediation is generally a short-term, structured, task-oriented, and „hands-on“ process.

When to Mediate

Mediation is usually a voluntary process, although sometimes statutes, rules, or court orders may require participation in mediation. Mediation is common in small claims courts, housing courts, family courts, and some criminal court programs and neighborhood justice centers.

Unlike the litigation process, where a neutral third party (usually a judge) imposes a decision over the matter, the parties and their mediator ordinarily control the mediation process – deciding when and where the mediation takes place, who will be present, how the mediation will be paid for, and how the mediator will interact with the parties.

After a Mediation

If a resolution is reached, mediation agreements may be oral or written, and content varies with the type of mediation. Whether a mediation agreement is binding depends on the law in the individual jurisdictions, but most mediation agreements are considered enforceable contracts. In some court-ordered mediations, the agreement becomes a court judgment. If an agreement is not reached, however, the parties may decide to pursue their claims in other forums.

The mediation process is generally considered more prompt, inexpensive, and procedurally simple than formal litigation. It allows the parties to focus on the underlying circumstances that contributed to the dispute, rather than on narrow legal issues. The mediation process does not focus on truth or fault. Questions of which party is right or wrong are generally less important than the issue of how the problem can be resolved. Disputing parties who are seeking vindication of their rights or a determination of fault will not likely be satisfied with the mediation process.

Mediation is good for the school!

The program is an early intervention strategy which if implemented effectively can offer an effective and suitable method for helping to reduce anti-social behaviour such as violence, truancy and vandalism.

Benefits for secondary students: Students assume greater responsibility for solving their own problems;  May help reduce bullying in schools; Students gain life-time skills including communication, listening and problem-solving skills 

Benefits for student mediators: Develops social, language and leadership skills; Role of mediator increases self-esteem.

Benefits for staff: Less time spent dealing with minor issues; Fewer conflicts flowing into classrooms.

Benefits for whole school: A safer and more harmonious school environment; Reduced incidents of bullying; Improves overall school climate through better student relationships.

Disputes suitable for mediation in schools: Gossip and rumour spreading; Name calling; Friendship problems; Teasing; Loss of property; Exclusion.

What types of disputes are not suitable for peer mediation? Sexual assault; Physical violence; Racism; Weapons/drugs. Peer mediation is suitable for minor disputes only. Major disputes, including assault and serious bullying, are not suitable for this process. Any serious disputes should be reported to a teacher immediately.

Student wellbeing is a targeted priority – Unresolved conflict causing disruption – Identified need for intervention in resolving conflicts between students.

School investigates options – Consensus across stakeholders – Access peer mediation program and training.

Peer mediation program implemented – School community promotes mediation to resolve conflict – Students in conflict participate voluntarily – Mediators have adequate support and resources..

Benefit to students – Leadership skills – Empowered to solve conflict – Application of skills beyond the school

Benefit to school – More harmonious learning environment and playground – More student independence.

 

 

Nedyalka Marinova Tsoneva

Deputy Director for Educational Activities at PSA “Nikola Pushkarov”, Popovo town, Bulgaria

  1. Conflict

Conflict is a process that interacts with differences in goals, values, interests, and needs. Conflict is also a threat or a sense of a threat that one side can threaten the other. At the heart of the conflict are the needs that can be:

  • Recognition;
  • Inclusion;
  • Autonomy;
  • Status;
  •  

The conflict begins when one of the two sides clearly shows that there is a difference between them which requires measures to resolve it.

  1. Mediation – a tool for conflict management.

Mediation is a type of alternative dispute resolution. Mediation is a procedure in which a third neutral person facilitates the process of rapprochement between two or more countries, in order to help them solve their problems and reach a settlement. In the mediation, the parties themselves reach a mutually acceptable solution, a third party, the mediator, remains neutral about the outcome.

For a long time, the terms mediation and reconciliation have been used interchangeably since these two methods are closely related. The difference between them is that reconciliation aims at reconciling the positions of the parties and that mediation seeks new mutually beneficial decisions. And the fact that the mediator is not an advisor and does not offer substantive solutions while the conciliator makes suggestions on the content of the agreement.

  1. Legal framework in Bulgaria.

Bulgaria is one of the first countries in Europe to adopt the Mediation Act in 2004. The law establishes basic rules for the functioning of mediation, which require minimum additions after the introduction of Directive 2008/52 / EC in 2011.

  1. Principles of mediation.
  • Voluntary – countries participate at will and can withdraw at any time. The two parties have clearly and unequivocally declared participation in the application procedure;
  • Equality – each country has equal opportunities to participate in the mediation process.
  • Neutrality – the mediator does not decide on the dispute.
  • Impartiality – the mediator signs a declaration of impartiality and neutrality.
  • Confidentiality – the mediator and all participants are required to keep secret all circumstances, facts and documents that have come to their attention during the procedure. To this end, they all sign a mediation agreement.
  1. Making mediation.

5.1. Preparation.

  • analysis – gathering of information;
  • planning – generating ideas about upcoming meetings and actions;

5.2. Discovery of mediation;

  • Identifying the problem;
  • discussing all interests related to the problem;
  • defining common interests;
  • generating possible solutions;
  • choosing options to solve the problem / Is it applicable? Is it fair? Can you afford it? Is it Practical? Is it acceptable for all countries? /;
  • an assessment of the solution reached;

5.3. Adoption and written reflection of the decision in an agreement.

The primary task of the mediator is to assess exactly what needs are being harmed in the specific case and to encourage the parties to consider how they can be met. The time for mediation should be distributed in this way: 1/3 of the time for discussing the past, 1/3 of the time for the present, and 1/3 for the future – what they would like to achieve and what variants they see.

Generating more options for an agreement leads the disputing parties to offer ideas for resolving the conflict, which in turn diverts them from the stated positions.

The options for solving the problem can be intangible or material compensations or cash. Intangible compensation can be: personal apology, recognition, second chance or free service.

  1. Communication skills and mediation techniques.

Communication is a process where people share their feelings, thoughts and ideas. Mediation will be successful in having very good communication skills, as well as skills to apply mediatory techniques.

6.1. Active Listening

Through active listening, each party is given a chance to calmly and thoroughly share their views and understand that the mediator listens carefully and is ready to help. There are non-verbal techniques – nod, gesture, look and more. and verbal techniques – a brief retelling of the heard, asking questions and rewording. The goal of active listening is to get information, build trust, reduce tensions, achieve our goals clearly, with the goals, interests and concerns of each party.

6.2. Non-verbal communication;

Important to achieve trust are: face expression, gestures, voice power, visual contact, the way people stand and move, dressing style, etc. Knowing these signs can be used to encourage people to talk about their problems.

6.3. Asking questions and paraphrase;

Asking questions clarifies the situation for us and for the countries, which helps the parties to communicate and makes the most possible presentation of the problem.

  • How long do you know the other side?
  • Will you see ahead?
  • What were your relationship with the other party before the event?
  • What is most important to you?
  • What bothers you in this situation?
  • How do they affect this?
  • Does that mean a lot to you, is it?
  • Is there something that others do not understand?
  • What do you hope to achieve today?
  • How can I help you to reach your goals?
  • Is there anything else you want to achieve from our meeting?
  • Which will make you more relaxed?
  • Would that please you?
  • What else could you add?
  • How do you feel after our meeting?
  • How would you like to resolve this issue?
  • How do you want to develop in the future?
  • How do you imagine the future when this dispute is behind you?
  • What do you think will be the fair solution to the problem?
  • How will you feel if we reach a solution to the dispute?
  • What would happen if we do not reach an agreement here?
  • How do you feel the other side in this situation?
  • Thank you for clarifying your point of view so far. I have questions and I’m sure you have it. Now you have the opportunity to ask them and discuss them.
  • I would like to hear X’s reaction to this and then you will have the opportunity to continue …
  • Have you heard anything new today?

6.4. Summary;

It is good to summarize after each meeting, to summarize the content of the conversation, focusing on controversial issues and solving problems. Make the most of the words: thank you, we are progressing, we are congratulating you, our interests, our common goals, common interests, together, together, our understanding, your goals, your desires, convenience, solutions, agreements, security, stability, most importantly, favorable conditions, successful decisions, satisfaction, authority, image, success, reliability, care, concern, respect, goodwill, tolerance,

6.5. Verification of reality

When verifying reality through a series of questions, the mediator helps the country understand the weaknesses of its position, expectations, or requirements. This technique applies when the parties have unrealistic expectations and necessarily during the individual meetings.

6.6. Suggesting a solution;

The mediator tries hypothetical variants of an agreement, but the suggestions necessarily come out on behalf of one of the parties. This technique helps to generate ideas from the parties to the dispute / A, what will happen if …? /.

6.7. Reformulation;

This technique achieves a change of negative and threatening messages in more constructive and positive messages. The countries come into conflict with their interpretations of the problem and formulate the problem in a different way. This is true at an earlier stage and then there are many different views of the parties to the conflict. Each country starts with accusatory expressions to its opponent, attributes negative characteristics to the other side, and demands its claims to be fully satisfied. The ultimate goal of the reformulation is to create a common understanding of the issue that is acceptable to both sides.

6.8. The best alternative or the most painful outcome;

The mediator helps both sides understand what could happen if they do not agree through mediation. This technique is appropriate when parties are unwilling to negotiate and are willing to leave mediation. The mediator reveals the risks of not resolving the conflict – losses, time, relationships, etc. resources.

Mediation is useful even if no settlement is reached. It is enough that the communication between the two sides is restored

  1. Steps for administering a case of mediation.

Mediation begins when one or both parties file a mediation request. If only one party submits an application, the other party must be informed by means of a mediation call along with an accompanying letter indicating information on mediation and the deadline for replying to that letter.

The other party to the dispute gives its consent by filling in an application or, if it refuses, the procedure can not begin. Follow-up by the mediator can not be undertaken.

Following the parties’ agreement to mediation, the mediator arranges the first meeting. In practice, this can be done by email, which informs parties of the Mediation Act, Mediation Rules, Mediation Agreement and eventually date, time and place of the individual meetings, according to the wishes of each party.

During the first meeting, the Mediation Agreement must be signed. The length of meetings depends on the time the parties can spend. After each meeting, the mediator arranges the next. If an agreement is reached after the next meeting, the Parties shall sign an Agreement that they hold personally. The Mediator does not keep the Agreement, it is the duty of the parties. Regardless of the outcome of the mediation, once the mediator has finished, the mediator must reflect the date and manner of the mediation, without details of the content of the agreement, in the register.

  1. Basic documents in mediation.
  • Mediation Act;
  • Ordinance №2 / 15.03.2007g. On the terms and procedure for the approval of organizations that train mediators; the requirements for training mediators; the order for entry, deletion and deletion of mediators from the Unified Register of Mediators and the Procedures and Ethical Rules of Mediator’s Behavior;
  • Directive 2008/52 / EC of the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union of 21.05.2008;
  • Rules for conducting mediation;
  • Application Form / Request for Mediation – which is provided to the parties to declare through it the desire to initiate mediation;
  • Invitation to Mediation;
  • Form Mediation Agreement – which informs the parties of their procedure, rights and obligations in it, and the signing of which usually initiates the mediation procedure, as it establishes the consent of the parties to it;
  • Privacy Policy and Declaration of Impartiality – Signed by the Mediator;
  • Agreement;
  • Mediation Register, which includes the basic data for each mediation, as well as the dates of commencement and termination.

 

 

Application for mediation

from ……………………………………………………… ..

 

I hereby request that a mediation procedure be initiated to resolve the dispute described in this application

Please send to Country 2 a copy of this application and seek her consent to participate in mediation if my application is solely on my behalf.

  1. Country 1.

Names:……………………………………………………………………………………………… ..

Address: ………………………………………………………………………..

Telephone: ……………………………. .., e-mail: ………………………………………………

  1. Country 2.

Names: ……………………………………………………………………………………………….. ..

Address: …………………………………………………………………………………..

Telephone: ……………………………. .., e-mail: …………………………………………………

  1. Description of the dispute / brief description of the dispute, when it occurred, other parties involved in the dispute, attempts to terminate, etc. /.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

 

Date: ………………………                                        Date: ………………………..

 

Country 1 ……………………………………… ..      Country 2 ………………………………………

 

Mediation Agreement

 

Today, …………., In ……………., this Mediation Agreement was concluded between:

 

Country 1. / Names /: …………………………………………………………………………. ..

And

Country 2./Name/: …………………………………………………………………………… ..

And

Mediator / Names /: ………………………………………………………………………………

PURPOSE OF THE AGREEMENT: The Parties to this Agreement to conduct a mediation procedure with the assistance of the Mediator to assist them in resolving the dispute between Parties 1 and 2.

MEDIATION PROCEDURE: The procedure is conducted according to the Mediation Rules and during the mediation, the mediator can hold joint meetings with all parties and separate meetings with each of the parties.

ROLE AND RESPONSIBILITY OF THE MEDIATOR: The mediators assist the parties in reaching a settlement by helping them: to identify controversial issues, to find common interests, to find options for resolving the dispute and to negotiate a settlement agreement for the disputed issues. The Mediator will not give advice or directions to the parties on how to act, or to impose a binding decision on them.

BENEFICIARY PARTICIPATION OF THE PARTIES: The parties agree to a voluntary procedure and the outcome depends on their active participation and willingness to cooperate. The parties agree to participate in good faith and strive to resolve the dispute in their mutual interest.

CONFIDENTIALITY: mediation is a confidential procedure and all participants are required to keep confidential with regard to third parties all discussions and documents relating to the mediation procedure.

LEGAL ADVICE AND HELP: Mediators do not provide legal advice. The Mediator has no obligation to defend the parties’ legal rights and obligations. Each party may consult with a lawyer before signing the Agreement. The mediator does not guarantee that the proceeding will lead to the settlement of the dispute between the parties.

TERMINATION OF MEDIATION: Mediation is terminated upon expiry of the deadline set by the parties, namely ……………….

The mediation may be terminated solely by either party with a Letter – Refusal of Mediation. The mediator may also stop mediation if doubts arise in his independence, impartiality and neutrality. Or other legitimate reasons that will prevent the settlement of the dispute.

……………………………………..                                ………………………………………….

Country 1., Name: ……………                               Country 2., Name: ……………….

Mediator, Name: ……………………………                              …………………………………

 

Agreement

 

Today, …………….., In …………………., The following Agreement was concluded between:

 

Country 1. / Names /: …………………………………………………………………………………..

Address: …………………………………………………………………..

Telephone: ……………………………….. e-mail: …………………………………………………

 

And

 

Country 2./Name/: ……………………………………………………………………………………….

Address: ……………………………………………………………………..

Telephone: ……………………………….. e-mail: …………………………………………………

 

RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS OF THE COUNTRY1:

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS OF THE COUNTRY2:

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Mediator in conducting the mediation procedure was ……………………………………………………………………………….. ………………………….

 

Date of commencement of the procedure: ………………………….

 

Date: ………………………………… ..                         Date: ………………………………… ..

Country 1 ……………………………………… ..      Country 2 ………………………………………