CYS’s new Mediation Office Hours program, launched last spring in partnership with Compton Unified’s Centennial High School, has become a powerful, positive, and well-attended program.
Designed as a safe space for conflict resolution and peacemaking between students (or between students and teachers), the program adapted the mediation techniques from CYS’s highly successful VORS Mediation program to a briefer, one-hour format.
This nimble model was ideally suited to the types of conflicts and altercations that occasionally flare up on school campuses, and has been remarkably successful, says CYS volunteer mediator Lauren Ludwig. As member of a small, responsive team of MOH mediators, Lauren has conducted many of the two-party mediations during a regular Thursday morning time slot, and believes MOH has really found its stride.
“The smaller space of MOH,” she notes, “creates an opportunity for students to be vulnerable, to feel safe taking responsibility and making and hearing an apology. It’s really satisfying,” Lauren says, “to see just how much can be accomplished in an hour, how two friends who had a falling out can clear the air and let it go.”
Restitutions in MOH mediations tend to be less about making amends and more about making future behavioral commitments. Even when parties represent groups in conflict, they are able, with the guidance of MOH mediators, to find peace between them.
With its reliance on reflective listening skills practiced and modeled by the mediators, MOH has immense potential to improve the communication and culture on more school campuses. In each mediation, the “magical moment,” as Lauren calls it, occurs when two students shift into genuine communication. “The peak experience in a mediation,” she says, “is when I realized I’m not needed anymore.”