Sunday, July 31, 2022

Why Peer Mediation?

Want to know more about peer mediation and how it can benefit your school?  Check out this short informational video about the advantages of peer mediation in schools.  

Sunday, April 17, 2022

OPMP: Back to Training!

The Online Peer Mediation Platform team is back to doing what it does best, working with school coordinators and students to create a peer mediation program.  Recently, OPMP had the pleasure of working with two schools to assist with the establishment of peer mediation programs. These schools included: Boys' Latin School of Philadelphia and Drury High School in New Adams, Massachusetts.

The training with Boys' Latin School included 20 hours of online training with the students and coordinator.  Although there were a few challenges, overall the students enjoyed the training and seemed to do really well with their assignments and role plays. Kudos to their coordinator for all his hard work to make the online training a reality!!

Here is the feedback from Boys' Latin School peer mediation coordinator:

The training provided great lessons and activities that helped students prepare to become mediators and take power in their own school.

At Drury High School, one of our OPMP trainers was able to go to the school and train nine students as peer mediators.  The students did a great job as new peer mediators!!

Here is the feedback from students about our training at Drury High School.

What was the best part of the training?

The role plays
Increasing my problem solving skills
Learning different ways to look at people point of view
The roleplays
The food. Just kidding. I loved working with everyone to try and resolve the situations made with the role played mediations.
We had a great trainer and our role play was fun.
It was fun to get to act out the spots and everything.
Doing the roleplays I feel was the best part of training. They were really fun to do with my other peers.
Just having a great trainer it made it so much more enjoyable and I really feel like I learned a lot!
If your school needs online or in person peer mediation training or peer mediation coordination training, OPMP would love to assist you!

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Handling Conflict in Education with Facilitated Dialogues (Excerpt from Peace and Conflict Studies Journal Conference 2021)

This blog post was written by Darby Munroe regarding her thoughts about the rise of patriot education over peace education in the US since 2016. Darby explains why she disagrees with this trend and how educators can discuss difficult topics with students in the class using peace education techniques. 

Darby will host a webinar to explain these techniques on March 24th @ 7 PM.  

Since 2016, the rise in Nationalism under the former presidential leadership has revealed undercurrents of racism and structural violence throughout our nation.  The former President rallied for Patriotic Education, to further a Nationalistic platform.  His “Teach American Exceptionalism” item is under his “Fighting for You” agenda.  In it, he claimed that the United States does not have a racism problem, but instead that young people are brainwashed into thinking bad things and must focus on how exceptional we, as a nation, really are. What’s missing is actual data and grounding in theories to back up his claims that we do not have race related issues in the US, and how an American Exceptionalism curriculum would benefit schools and communities.  There is, however, a large body of research on peace education in schools, and the benefits to surrounding communities.

 Background info and how to talk about difficult topics in education


 As an educator, I have been in a variety of classrooms for the past few decades, including alternative education and online settings.  As a practitioner, I focus on restorative practices in education, like circles.  I am a certified family mediator and also work with the Online Peer Mediation Platform.  As a researcher, I conducted research on facilitated dialogues with Dr. Cheryl Duckworth in Broward County High Schools.  This research was published in Conflict Resolution Quarterly.  It is entitled, “Students can change a school”: Understanding the role of youth leadership in building a school culture of peace.



Peace Ed vs Patriotic Ed








 Peace education is rooted in the works of bell hooks, Paulo Friere and Maria Montessori, to name just a few thought leaders in the field.  Instead of a banking or factory model of education, where authoritarian teachers rule the classroom with strict classroom management and lesson plans, similar to many traditional schools, peace education views students as co-creators of knowledge, teaching and learning form one another.  The teacher does not have power over the classroom, but instead everyone has power with each other.  Social emotional learning, restorative justice, and nonviolence communication are the norms, and take priority over curriculum and testing.


 The last person to hold office proposed Patriotic Education, promoting how great Americans are, some may say to the point of being elitist.  The ideas included downplayed systemic racism and claimed anything democratic was indoctrination.  The undertones of the proposed patriotic education promoted an us vs them attitude, which meant to deepen the divide both in our nation and the world.

 Theories that can be used to determine what effects peace education and patriotic education will have on children and communities


 Critical Peace Education Theory falls in line with social justice and education reform.  Educators are more concerned with shaping critical thinkers than having students who can regurgitate material. Through power with and restorative models, injustices and inequalities are addressed.  Students learn how to mediate and prevent conflict and practice nonviolence communication.  Students and teachers are agents of change.


 Johan Galtung coined structural violence as any form of violence an institution, like an educational system, harms people by preventing them from getting their basic needs met.  Think outside of the box, violence does not necessarily mean physical violence.  It could someone not reaching their full potential. 

 Is learning conflict resolution skills a basic need?

Should peace education be a basic need?

If students learned these things in school, how would it impact the larger community?

 How to facilitate difficult conversations

 Obviously, not everyone is going to agree about difficult topics in education, especially when it comes to politics or religion.  A look at the news and social media over the past few years show s just how divisive people can be and just how much misinformation is out there.  More proof of why critical thinking, a tenant of peace education, show be taught in public schools.  Here are some examples of conflict resolution processes that can be used in educational settings to help people discuss things productively.


 Facilitators can show participants there is more than one way to view conflict.

Prep work (structure, facilities/online, contacts)

One event or a Series of Events

Ground Rules and Expectations

Facilitated Dialogues are confidential safe spaces.  People don’t have to agree with one another, but they can learn to seek to understand each other and find common ground.

Topics to be discussed

Large group and break out groups


Potential Agreements, further actions 


 Not all schools adopt restorative justice or peace education practices.  Educators can implement preventative circles in their classrooms on a regular basis to help teach and model nonviolent communication and conflict resolution.    Think of a facilitated dialogue, but on a much smaller scale, and youth led.


 How can the Online Peer Mediation Platform help with facilitating difficult conversations in education?  If you want additional training, consultation, or assistance, the Online Peer Mediation Team can assist you.  

Online Peer Mediation Platform


Saturday, February 13, 2021

The Hill We Climb – Amanda Gorman Finding Voice and Inspiration for Conflict Resolution and Peace

On January 20th , 2021, the inauguration for President Joseph Biden happened in the midst of unprecedented challenges for our nation. With COVID 19 laying wreck and ruin to so many of our rituals, and the deeply divisive action of those who invaded the Capitol on January 6th , it seemed this ceremony couldn’t possibly be based in reality and still inspire imagination. However, regardless of political affiliation, many in our country heard an invitation to refocus future days for our communities with a call for unity. As a conflict resolution educator, I tuned my ear and heard language of finding peace and common interest, even when coming from different positions. This message came through in speeches, music, and most profoundly in poetry. The poem written and delivered by 22 year-old, Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman is what rang through the clearest, the longest and strongest to me. I have joined the millions of Americans who have been forever touched and awed by her brilliance. Full confession – I’m a super fan now! 

I had the opportunity to work with a middle school leadership class in Los Angeles California the week after the inauguration. The school is working “at a distance” and so my guest speaker spot was hosted via Zoom. The topic of the class was challenging students to “find the power of your own voice”. It was a gift to be able to lean into the words and delivery of Amanda Gorman to unpack this topic with the group. Her poem “The Hill we Climb”, is full of poetic devices of structural, grammatical, rhythmic, metrical, verbal and visual elements. It brings new images to life each time I read it. I was not surprised that the middle school students I shared the poem with were also moved by her words. They were fully engaged in discussing and reflecting on her message, even given the challenges of working and being in discussion online.

I started the class with viewing Amanda delivering her poem without any written words at hand. I asked students to share what they heard, what they felt, and what they wondered in the Zoom chat or aloud with mics on. Without hesitation, students jumped in to describe catching Amanda’s words of hope and a call for peace and respect. Students also saw her message grounded in reality with references to the conflicts facing our nation now. The next step was asking students to find specific phrases or words in the poem that matched the topics that they suggested and defined from the first viewing/hearing (which were hope, peace, and respect). Students were given the written text of the poem and we used a shared an electronic interactive “board” (Padlet) to give students a chance to process and analyze the words that evoked the responses they felt from the oral reading. Students found they were able to verify their feelings, citing the precise word choices of the author. The emotions that lingered clearly came from the words she crafted so thoughtfully.

The phrases that linger for me summarize our call to take up the work of peaceful conflict resolution: “And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us. We close the divide because we know, to put our future first we must first put our differences aside. We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another. We seek harm to none and harmony for all.” ( There is the mighty power in the young voice that speaks of peace.

The following is a small sample of the responses and excerpts from The Hill We Climb, shared from the middle school participants.

Johnathan - "If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy."

Bianka - "We must first put our differences aside."

Valeria - "We've learned that quiet isn't always peace."

Ashlyn - "With every breath of my bronze pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one."

      Halyn - "Where can we find light in this never-ending shade?"

About the author...

Karen DeVood is a member of the Online Peer Mediation Team Platform and a professor at California State, Fresno in Los Angeles, California.

"La mediaciĆ³n de los conflictos como aliada del bienestar en las aulas" ("Conflict mediation as an ally of well-being in the classroom ")


Join our newest OPMP Team member, Maria Teresa Cle'rici, for our first Spanish speaking webinar regarding using conflict mediation as an ally in the classroom on February 24th @ 6 PM EST.  This webinar is specifically for Spanish speaking educators.  

Maria Teresa is an attorney and educator who trains teachers in the field of conflict resolution in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  

Register at the link below: 

"La mediaciĆ³n de los conflictos como aliada del bienestar en las aulas" ("Conflict mediation as an ally of well-being in the classroom ")

See more about Maria Teresa's credentials below.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Connecting Educators and Students Webinar Recording

If you missed our webinar on connecting students and educators during COVID-19 hosted by Darby Munroe, please check out our recording.  Stay tuned to our monthly webinars!!

Connecting Educators and Students

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Connecting Educators With Their Students Webinar

 Join OPMP team member, Darby Munroe, for her free webinar on connecting educators with their students during the COVID crisis.  The webinar will be Thursday, January 28th @ 6 PM EST.  

Register in advance for this meeting:

Webinar Registration

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.